10 Anti-inflammatory Vegetables for Your Diet

Reduce chronic inflammation with these dietitian-approved, anti-inflammatory vegetables.

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
May 20, 2024
April 5, 2024
— Updated:
April 5, 2024

Table of Contents

Inflammation is a normal reaction in the body whenever there is an injury -- big or small. Consider this: you get a paper cut. The area around the cut becomes red and swollen, a distinct sign of inflammation. However, in this case, inflammation brings white blood cells and fluid to the area to help it heal. In these short-term scenarios, inflammation saves us from larger infections or worse injuries.

In long-term situations, also known as chronic inflammation, consistently elevated levels of inflammatory markers like c-reactive protein, also known as CRP, in the blood can be harmful. You can’t always “see” chronic inflammation, and you might not know you’re inflamed until you receive blood work that flags it. Chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems and contribute to the development of heart disease, diabetes, and possibly certain types of cancer. You can manage inflammation in the body with diet, among other lifestyle factors. Anti-inflammatory foods can help mitigate inflammation and improve how inflamed you feel.

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Understanding Anti-inflammatory Foods

An anti-inflammatory diet plays a crucial role in curbing the body's inflammatory response, which is the immune system's natural reaction to injury, infection, or stress. Chronic inflammation, however, occurs when this response becomes persistent. Anti-inflammatory diets can help combat chronic inflammation by emphasizing foods with rich anti-inflammatory properties or nutrients that neutralize inflammation. 

An anti-inflammatory diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, all of which are sources of nutrients, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds known to reduce inflammation in the body. Choosing an inflammation-reducing diet means paying attention to what you’re not eating. Sugar, trans fats, and ultra-processed carbs in excessive amounts may contribute to inflammation. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet rich by incorporating more nutrient-dense veggies and reducing inflammatory triggers like processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats can help fight inflammation and lower your risk of developing inflammatory-related diseases.

6 Health Conditions Anti-inflammatory Foods Can Improve

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Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet can promote a healthier lifestyle. These nutritious foods are known for their ability to combat inflammation in the body, which is often associated with various chronic health conditions. From heart to brain health, nearly every symptom in our body becomes healthier with healthy amounts of inflammation.

Here are health conditions that can benefit from choosing anti-inflammatory foods.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS): IBS is characterized by Inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating. Anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, and turmeric may help reduce inflammation in the gut and alleviate symptoms associated with IBS.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions may contribute to inflammation levels in the body, leading to symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and congestion. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods like berries, nuts, and green tea can help modulate the immune response and reduce the severity of allergic reactions.1
  • Asthma: Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to difficulty breathing. Anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients can help reduce airway inflammation and improve asthma symptoms.2
  • Cardiovascular Health: Chronic inflammation plays a role in developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Including anti-inflammatory foods like olive oil, nuts, and dark chocolate can help lower inflammation levels, improve blood vessel function, and reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event.3
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: Neuroinflammation in the brain may contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's disease, leading to cognitive decline and memory loss. Anti-inflammatory foods such as blueberries, leafy greens, and fatty fish have been associated with reduced brain inflammation and potentially slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.4
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, leading to chronic inflammation and specific tissue damage. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, garlic, and foods rich in antioxidants can help modulate your immune responses, lower levels of inflammation, and alleviate other symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases.5

Anti-inflammatory Diets Explained

Anti-inflammatory diets primarily emphasize whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to focusing on inflammation-lowering nutritious foods, you’ll also want to consider limiting or avoiding foods that can contribute to inflammation, such as processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats. Certain spices and herbs like turmeric, ginger, and garlic possess anti-inflammatory properties, too and might be an easy add while cooking or in herbal tea. 

Here are some key nutrients in an anti-inflammatory diet.

  • Antioxidants: Foods that contain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and phytochemicals, like flavonoids and carotenoids, help neutralize harmful free radicals and oxidative stress, two key drivers of inflammation. 
  • Omega 3s: Fatty fish provide omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, which have potent anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines and eicosanoids. 
  • Fiber: Fiber-rich, plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, also play a role in reducing inflammation by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn produce short-chain fatty acids that could help regulate immune function and inflammation status.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href=best-vegetables-for-diabetics>10 Best Vegetables for Diabetics</a>.</p>

Types of Anti-inflammatory Diets

When it comes to adopting an anti-inflammatory approach to eating, there are many different dietary patterns that you can explore. There is no “right” way to eat to lower inflammation, and you might enjoy pulling from various eating patterns and guidelines to find the right one for you. 

Here are some of the most popular types of anti-inflammatory diets:

  • DASH Diet: The DASH diet, standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was originally designed to lower blood pressure levels through more fruits and veggies and less sodium in the diet. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products while limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium.6
  • Mediterranean Diet: Inspired by eating patterns in Mediterranean countries, this diet prioritizes plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. On the Mediterranean diet, moderate fish, poultry, and dairy consumption is encouraged, while red meat and processed foods are limited. The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory compounds and contribute to improved heart health and reduced inflammation.7
  • MIND Diet: The MIND diet, standing for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, combines aspects of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. The MIND diet specifically targets reducing inflammation in the brain and aims to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive decline. This eating plan emphasizes leafy greens, berries, nuts, whole grains, fish, and poultry while limiting red meat, butter, cheese, pastries, and fried foods.8
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Diets: Vegetarian and vegan diets exclude meat and animal products, respectively, and focus on plant-forward foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These diets are high in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, which have anti-inflammatory properties.9

Each of these anti-inflammatory diets offers unique benefits and can be adapted to individual preferences and health goals. Incorporating elements of these diets into your eating pattern can promote overall health, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases.

10 Best Anti-inflammatory Vegetables

Colorful veggie bowl with anti-inflammatory properties, featuring a central dip.

Choosing a variety of anti-inflammatory vegetables to incorporate into your diet can lower inflammation levels and might reduce your risk for chronic disease as you age. These vegetables are rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that help combat inflammation. 

Here are ten anti-inflammatory vegetables to choose from for lower inflammation.

  • Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable contains sulforaphane, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Tomatoes: High in lycopene, this veggie powerhouse has been linked to reduced inflammation and risk of chronic diseases.
  • Peppers: Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Mushrooms: Rich in polysaccharides and antioxidants that modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.
  • Carrots: Loaded with beta-carotene and other antioxidants that combat inflammation and support immune function.
  • Kale: Contains vitamins A, C, and K, along with antioxidants like quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Avocado: Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, including tocopherols and carotenoids, which help lower inflammation.
  • Garlic: Contains sulfur compounds with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
  • Spinach: High in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like quercetin and lutein, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Edamame: Rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants like isoflavones, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

Choosing the right medication is vital for health, diabetes management, and weight loss. Signos' experts provide personalized advice, considering factors like medical history and lifestyle, to recommend the most effective and safe treatments. Their guidance ensures optimal outcomes and ongoing support for individuals to achieve their health goals efficiently.

The expert guidance provided by Signos can significantly benefit your health, whether your goal is better energy or simply feeling better. Explore more about nutrition and adopt healthier habits by delving into Signos' blog, or discover if Signos' program is right for you through a brief quiz.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href=vegetarian-weight-loss-plan>A Vegetarian Weight Loss Plan: Food List and Meal Ideas</a>.</p>

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References

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  2. Johnson EF, Brown FG. Role of leafy green vegetables in the prevention of irritable bowel syndrome. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):987.
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  9. Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl J Med. 1997;336(16):1117-1124.
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