Inflammation is a double edged sword. On one hand, it is necessary for healing wounds and on the other, too much of it for too long can lead to many chronic diseases.
This means it is necessary to keep your inflammation levels in check.
The best way to do this is to reduce inflammation causing foods so a few months ago I did an article about the 10 most inflammatory foods.
Since that article received a positive response from everyone, I wanted to do a follow-up article on the foods that are good and can reduce inflammation.
There are a lot of foods that are good at fighting chronic inflammation, but I wanted to limit the list to 10.
So here are the 10 best anti inflammatory foods in no particular order.
Beets are the common name for the root of the beet plant. They are packed full of nutrients, especially folate and manganese.
As for their role in reducing inflammation, beets contain the nutrient betaine. Betaine is made from choline and there is evidence that shows that betaine and choline may also reduce several inflammation markers in the body. [1, 2]
Beets also contain the anti-inflammatory compounds isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin.
Turmeric is a spice that is best known for it’s use in curry powder. Turmeric and it’s active ingredient is one of the best inflammation fighters and is an alternative to many drugs because of it’s effectiveness and low side effects. [5, 6, 7]
There are a few drawbacks that need to be overcome in order for it to reach its full inflammation-fighting potential.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and it has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties [8.] The issue is that only around 3% of turmeric is curcumin.
Most of the studies that show the benefits of the curcumin use over a gram of it and means you’re going to need to use a lot of turmeric to get that amount.
A solution for this would be to use a curcumin extract instead of pure turmeric.
The second issue is the absorption. Curcumin actually absorbs pretty poorly into our bodies. There are two main solutions for this.
Piperine is an extract from black pepper and helps to increase the absorption of curcumin [9.] Luckily a lot of the curcumin extracts already contain some form of this.
The other solution is to get a curcumin extract that is water soluble. These can be a lot more expensive than a normal fat soluble extract.
One of the major causes of inflammation is an imbalance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory and use the same enzymes as omega-3s  so the more omega-3s you get, the less enzymes the omega 6s will have available to produce inflammation.
The typical Western diet contains around 15 times more omega-6s than omega-3s so adding more omega-3s to your diet helps to bring the ratio back into balance.
The omega-3 fatty acids that are in fatty fish are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid.) In addition to aiding in inflammation reduction, these fatty acids have other benefits.
This should mean people that eat a lot of salmon are smarter and in better moods, right?
If you don’t eat a lot of fish you can get these same fatty acids from a fish oil supplement. I like Barlean’s because it doesn’t have a fishy aftertaste.
The recommended daily dosage of fish oil can vary depending on any conditions you may have [18,] but personally I try to get at least 1 gram per day.
Flax Seeds/ Chia Seeds
The body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA but the body does not do a very good job with the conversion [21.]
If you are only after the omega-3s, I would only recommend flax and chia as an alternative for a vegetarian or someone who won’t eat fatty fish or take fish oil.
Flax and chia seeds do provide some other benefits though. They are both high in fiber and provide the body with anti-oxidants.
Nuts in general may help to reduce inflammation because of their fiber, magnesium, unsaturated fats and L-argenine [24.]
Some nuts also contain the omega-3 fatty acid APA. Walnuts have the most omega-3s of all nuts. There is even evidence to that associated a reduced risk of mortality from inflammation related diseases when eating walnuts [25.]
All nuts also contain some omega-6s. Walnuts also contain the most omega-6s as well but they do have a good omega-3 to omega-6 ratio because of their high omega 3 content.
Walnuts are not the only healthy nuts. Almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts and macadamias also provide some health benefits and may reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease[26, 27, 28, 29.] Peanuts, which are technically a legume, are also beneficial [30, 31.]
Eating raw nuts is generally preferred because cooking can oxidize the omega-6s rancid and make them more inflammatory.
(I think roasted nuts taste so much better than raw nuts and if you need to eat them roasted, get them dry roasted instead of roasted in oil.)
Cruciferous Vegetables and Leafy greens
Most people already know they should eat cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens. They are packed full of nutrients and are a great side for your meals. There is some evidence that shows they are also useful in fighting inflammation.
Examples of leafy greens include spinach, kale, mustard and collard greens and Swiss chard.
Many leafy greens, such as kale and collard greens, are also cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables also include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Ginger is a root that is commonly used as a spice in many cultures. It is used in a lot of Asian dishes and can provide an interesting flavor to many familiar foods.
Ginger contains compound called gingerols and shogaol. This is what gives ginger it’s spiciness and they are related to the spicy compounds in black pepper and chili peppers.
Ginger can also lower blood sugar and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes [47.]
If ginger’s taste is too strong for you, there are also ginger extract supplements that you can try.
Garlic adds a great flavor to a lot of food, unfortunately it’s not as kind to our breath. It goes great with almost every savory dish and I remember in LA there are entire restaurants dedicated to this pungent food.
There are a lot of benefits associated with garlic, so even if there is a strong taste that lingers for a while, it is worth adding to your diet.
Garlic is good at limiting cytokine production in the body  and is full of beneficial sulfurs. These sulfurs, some of which are also present in onions, work to suppress inflammation [49.] They also have antibacterial and anti-microbial properties which help to shut down new inflammation from starting [50.]
Garlic has also been shown to reduce blood pressure with very few side effects [51.]
Like ginger, the taste can be too strong for some people so supplementation is an option. There are many garlic extract supplements that can provide many of the benefits of fresh garlic.
As far as fruits go, berries have been my top choice for many years. They are low in sugar compared to other fruits and are pack with vitamins and minerals.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are the most popular type but there are a bunch of other berries, like blackberries, boysenberries and cranberries, that are also packed with nutrients.
(When I am talking about berries, I am not referring to the botanical definition because strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries would not be considered berries by the botanical definition.)
Many of the benefits from berries come from their high polyphenol content. Polyphenols play a role in reducing inflammation [52, 53.] They are also known to be good for reducing the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome [54, 55, 56.]
All berries are also a good source of fiber.
Green tea and black tea come from the same type of shrub (Camellia sinensis.) The difference comes in the processing. Black tea leaves oxidize before being dried which turns them black and give it a stronger flavor. Green tea leaves are either steamed (Japanese-style) or pan-fried (Chinese-style) so the oxidation process is stopped and the leaves retain more of their color.
The benefits of tea come from the high amounts of catechin polyphenols. These are the main antioxidants in tea. Of all the catechins, EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) is the main one in scientific tea studies and are more prevalent in green tea than black tea [59.]
Too much EGCG can be a bad thing though. High levels of EGCG supplementation can produce a pro-inflammatory response [65.]
Did I forget any?
Since this list was limited to only 10, there were some foods that I had to leave out. Some of them I left out because of a lack of evidence but there may be some that I weren’t aware of and didn’t look up.
What do you think are the best anti inflammatory foods? Did I leave out your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a message on social media. I respond to my facebook and twitter accounts.
Have a good week. Eat healthy, exercise hard and go SMASH IT!