Dr. Shanshan Chen, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Bastyr, explains the inflammation diet.

When most of us think about inflammation, we imagine redness and swelling on the skin, but inflammation can happen inside our bodies, too. In fact, inflammation is just your immune system’s response to an irritant, which could be an invading bacteria or a splinter in your finger.

Immune system cells fight the irritant and protect the affected part of your body, which is great. However, inflammations don’t always help us. Some chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis turn the immune system against the body’s own cells, resulting in harmful inflammations.

The good news? Some of the most powerful tools to combat harmful inflammation can be found inside your pantry.

Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

Eating to Reduce Inflammation

You should always aim for an overall balanced, natural, minimally-processed diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. Sound familiar? The Mediterranean style of eating has proven anti-inflammatory properties.

Build your own anti-inflammatory diet by incorporating these six foods that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids.


Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are not just full of antioxidants and vitamins, they are also excellent sources of polyphenols with the most notable ones being anthocyanins, responsible for their distinctive colors of red, blue, and purple.

Studies have shown that berries can help fight low-grade and chronic inflammation in your body.

Leafy Greens

Green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach are loaded with bioactive compounds, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids, all known to have anti-inflammatory properties.


Tomatoes are excellent sources of lycopene, an antioxidant with amazing anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium, which can contribute to gaining control of chronic inflammation.


Many studies have found that nuts could be linked to longer life and lower rates of diabetes and heart disease, but recently, based on a big long-term study in America among 5,000 men and women, researchers found that those who ate more nuts also had fewer markers for inflammation.

Fatty Fish & Seeds

Healthy omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are primarily found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and anchovies, but you can also get your fill from plant-based sources including flax seeds.

Power Spices

Chili, ginger, and black pepper have impressive anti-inflammatory power. Turmeric is one of the biggest anti-inflammatory powerhouses in your pantry, and pairing it with black pepper increases its bioavailability by 2000%.

Not sure where to start adding turmeric into your diet? This creamy sweet potato dip is as delicious as it is healthy.

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