Anti-inflammatory Diet: What to look for in the grocery store?

Do you struggle with joint pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, or even heart disease? Then the anti-inflammatory diet may be for you. There are many more health conditions that can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet. However, you may not have a specific health related condition that screams inflammation, so how can you measure yours? There are several test that measure inflammation, but the most common one is CRP.

  • CRP (C-reactive protein) and hs-CRP (high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein
  • ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)
  • TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha)
  • Interleukin biomarkers
  • PV (plasma viscosity)

Foods we eat can either support an anti-inflammatory state in our body or create inflammation. Also, there are plenty of external factors affect inflammation as well such as stress, weight, and physical activity. The body can use food to help nourish and decrease inflammation. Every time we eat is an opportunity to put something good into our bodies. If our bodies do not get the nutrients it needs from food then we will start breaking down a lot faster than we should and that’s when disease arise.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

I want to make this easy for you, and it does not entail going online or to a health food store to find anti-inflammatory foods. The most common thing I tell people is: go to your regular grocery store for anti-inflammatory foods. Take a look around in the produce section and notice all the variety and color. When looking for anti-inflammatory foods, look for dark deep color. This does not mean that other colors do not have anti-inflammatory benefits but the dark deep colors are very nutrient dense. Also, anti-inflammatory properties are not just in produce, but legumes, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs, and fish. I’m just going to focus on those dark deep colors in this blog post.

BLUE, BLACK, PURPLE

blueberries, heart, spoon

Probably the most famous blue color is from blueberries. But there are others blue/black/purple hues such as

  • blackberries, mulberries
  • red cabbage
  • red onion
  • eggplant
  • purple carrots
  • beets
  • figs
  • plums and prunes
  • red/concord/black grapes and raisins
  • red leaf lettuce, mixed greens with purple hues.
  • black tea

DARK GREEN

spinach, green leaves, vegetables

Dark leafy greens are no stranger as there has been a surge in love of them to salads, smoothies, or juicing. Here are some other ones.

  • kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collards, mustards, etc.
  • broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus
  • avocado
  • green tea

RED, ORANGE

tomatoes, knife, towel

Some of my favorite ways to use these color is with bell peppers, I love using red and orange bell peppers in cooking or salads for a pop of color. Here are some other ones.

  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • melon: watermelon, canteloupe
  • cara cara or blood red orange
  • cranberries
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes esp. ones that are dark deep in red or have some purple hues.
  • pomegranate
  • turmeric

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

This just refers to the family of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard greens, kale, watercress, turnips, kale, radish, bok choy, and arugula. A study done showed that those who ate 1.5 cups of these cruciferous vegetables a day had lower circulating levels of inflammation. The compounds are isothiocyanate, indole-3 carbinol, and sulfuraphane. They help to suppress and down regulate inflammation production. Now having 1.5 cups a day may seem like a lot but eating them over different meals along with other vegetables can help lighten the load.

NEED HELPING PUTTING THIS TOGETHER?

These are just a few examples of some foods that you can find in your grocery store to add to your plate for anti-inflammatory benefits. When making meals think of the rainbow to try to maximize the wonderful nutrition in your food for your body. Eat plants at every meal, such as berries at breakfast, cruciferous vegetables with lunch and/or dinner, and other colorful vegetables with lunch and dinner too. Plants process quickly through the body, so you have to eat them multiple times a day for adequate nutrition. Think about it, your body does not just need to fight inflammation at dinner, it’s trying to fight it all day long. Thus, providing your body with anti-inflammatory foods eat time you eat will help the body to regularly be taking out and protecting against inflammation. If we do not get the nutrients we need from our food then our bodies will suffer.

TOOLS FOR YOU

  • For a full list of these colorful nutritious foods, then check out the Institute of Functional Medicine’s handout for free in my library.
  • A portion guide for anti-inflammatory foods with actual measurement examples and serving sizes.
  • Simple and easy to make 20 anti-inflammatory meals that do not require any fancy expensive products or hours in the kitchen. There is one new meal idea for 20 days!

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