Printable List of Anti-Inflammatory Foods
You may have heard that foods rich in antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and foods like refined carbohydrates, sugar, fried foods, and trans fat foods are pro-inflammatory. Yet this general information just doesn’t feel like enough sometimes. Perhaps you want a more detailed and specific list of anti-inflammatory foods.
If this is you, then I have good news! We have that list for you! You can download a free printable list of anti-inflammatory foods here or read on to find all the details about the benefits of anti-inflammatory foods.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal process that protects the body from acute illness and injury. Symptoms of acute inflammation are swelling, heat, redness, and pain in the injured area or fever during illness.
While acute inflammation is a normal and beneficial process, chronic or ongoing inflammation can produce a multitude of negative outcomes like an increase in the risk of chronic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer (1
). Chronic inflammation may also cause a decline in mood, energy levels, and immune function as well as increase chronic swelling and worsen seasonal allergy and asthma symptoms. (4
Chronic inflammation can not only increase the risk of developing a multitude of medical conditions but also exacerbate symptoms of already occurring conditions. Moreover, diets lacking in anti-inflammatory foods may even increase muscles soreness and fatigue after physical activity (9
Antioxidants are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties, but there is not just one kind of antioxidant. Some antioxidants and antioxidant groups that have been extensively studied include polyphenols, catechins, EGCG, flavonoids, anthocyanin, Rutin, carotenoids, Vitamin C, Bromelain, Curcumin, Gingerol, and Lutein, to name a few. Omega-3 is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Some of these words may seem strange, but you don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Just remember, all these words are just names of different types of antioxidants and antioxidant groups found in your everyday foods and supplements.
What Foods, Nutrients, and Supplements Are Anti-Inflammatory?
We have established the importance of antioxidants, next let’s look at what foods contain some of these antioxidants and what the research says about a few specific antioxidants.
Quercetin is an important antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables like capers, apples, grapes, citrus fruits, cherries, berries, and broccoli. Quercetin is also found in various teas.
This standout antioxidant provides protection against some cancers, reduces the frequency of flu and upper respiratory infections after exercise, and decreases the frequency and severity of seasonal allergies and asthma (8
). Quercetin may even act as a natural antihistamine (8
Two studies, one of 10,000 men and one of 13,000 adults, found that apple consumption was inversely associated with asthma (10
). According to research, apples, which are significantly high in quercetin, appear to have a stronger inverse link to asthma than total vegetable and fruit intakes.
In another study, mice who were given quercetin were significantly less likely to develop the flu and in a different mice study, quercetin decreased flu-induced oxidative stress by 44% in mice who already had the flu (11
EGCG Catechins and Other Polyphenol Flavonoids
EGCG is a powerful catechin antioxidant found in green tea. Blackberries, dark chocolate, and Juniper Berries also contain catechin flavonoids.
These anti-inflammatory catechins have been shown to reduce the risk of depression, improve alertness and memory, reduce anxiety and stress, support the immune system, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of some cancers (13
Studies show that the EGCG, as well as the L-theanine in green tea, have a calming effect and promote alertness. Because green tea promotes feelings of calmness without drowsiness, green tea is helpful for stressful days when you still need to be alert (13
EGCG is a type of polyphenol flavonoid. Polyphenols, in general, have been shown to have antiviral properties and have even been thought to decrease the severity of the common cold and flu (12
). A review of several studies reported that flavonoid supplements appear to decrease the risk of upper respiratory infections by 33% and decrease duration (sick days) by 40% (14
In one study, individuals who consumed green tea supplements had 32.1% fewer common cold symptoms and 30.6% fewer sick days compared to the control (14
). Multiple studies support the theory that EGCG catechins, found in green tea, can help fight infections and suppress viruses, and may even be beneficial against covid (15
, 17 18
Years of research have shown that EGCG has anti-cancer properties. This research has been extensive and significant and includes in vitro, human, and animal trials, as well as, double-blinded randomized trials (20
Green tea may also help with weight loss efforts. In one study, 115 women were assigned to either a high-dose green tea group or a placebo group. After 12 weeks, the women in the green tea group saw a significant reduction in weight (22
Bromelain is a group of enzymes found in pineapple and according to research, it has strong anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties (23
) Bromelain has also been shown to help reduce overall pain and swelling associated with inflammation, osteoarthritis, and post-surgery (20
In one study, participants who took a supplement contain bromelain along with other antioxidants noticed a sigificant decrease in pain, inflammation, and swelling after 6 weeks (21).
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, bromelain may also decrease muscle soreness from physical activity as well as arthritis (26
Bromelain has not only been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation, but has also been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease, and reduce the symptoms and severity of seasonal allergies and asthma (24, 27
). These cancer-protection properties have been observed in animal and human studies as well as in vivo and in vitro studies (24, 22).
According to a systemic review, bromelain appears significantly helpful in relieving symptoms of nasal and sinus inflammation brought on by asthma, seasonal allergies, and the common cold (29).
Curcumin and Piperine
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant found in the flavorful spice, Turmeric. Studies have linked turmeric to a variety of benefits, including reducing the risk of some cancers, preventing cognitive decline with aging, improving memory, decreasing the severity of seasonal allergies, and improving symptoms of arthritis (30, 31, 32
Turmeric is also thought to have antiviral properties (31
). In one in vitro study, turmeric decreased the number of abnormal pre-cancerous cells lining the colon by 40% (35
). A review in the Journal of Biological Micromolecules reported similar anti-cancer effects (36
Turmeric has also been shown to improve memory and slow cognitive decline in animals with Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury (37
). Interestingly, it has been hypothesized that the lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in India may be due, in part, to the high turmeric consumption in that area (37
A few studies (mostly mice studies) found a reduction in allergic reactions when the subjects (mice) were exposed to allergens (38 39
According to systemic reviews and a meta-analysis, turmeric may also help alleviate symptoms of arthritis, reduce muscle soreness after physical activity, and reduce feelings of anxiety (40
To get the benefits of turmeric, turmeric needs to be eaten with black pepper; therefore, when you are flavoring your recipes with turmeric, you will want to add black pepper as well. If you are taking a turmeric supplement, look for piperine or black pepper on the ingredients list as well.
Vitamin C is a vitamin that has antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, and herbs like parsley.
Adequate vitamin C appears to provide neuroprotection and improve cognitive performance. Vitamin C may also help improve the appearance of aging skin and may play a role in reducing feelings of anxiety (46
One study found that when people took vitamin C supplements before a stressful task, their cortisol (the stress hormone) levels returned to normal more quickly, and one study showed small improvements in asthma control after participants took vitamin C supplements (48
Many studies also suggest that vitamin C has antiviral effects. (50
). One study showed that although supplements did not prevent the common cold from occurring in the general population, regular supplementation of vitamin C decreased the duration of the common cold in adults by 8% and in children by 14% (54
Although the general population is not protected from getting the cold in the first place, athletes may have some protection from the common cold. When high-intensity athletes took vitamin C supplements, they were 50% less likely to catch a cold (55
You may be able to guess which herb contains this antioxidant. If you guessed ginger, you would be correct. Ginger is known for calming an upset stomach, but did you know that ginger has antiviral properties as well? This tasty herb also has several other benefits.
According to a randomized placebo-controlled trial, ginger reduces muscle pain caused by exercise by 25%, and according to three other studies, ginger may help open the airways in patients with asthma (56 57
Salmon is famous for being a good source of DHA Omega-3, but you can also find omega-3 in other cold-water fish like tuna. Plant-based ALA omega-3s can be found in nuts, like walnuts, and seeds, like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
Omega-3s are often called the brain nutrient because, according to both animal and human studies, they can help improve cognitive function and slow cognitive decline as we age (59
Other studies found that when students consumed Omega-3, they saw improvements in reading, spelling, and teacher-rated behavior compared to those receiving the placebo (63
). Omega-3 may even help athletes think more quickly during gametime. A placebo-controlled study looked at female soccer players and found that when the players consumed DHA Omega-3, they had better reaction time (64
Omega-3 may also help reduce the risk of developing mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder (66
). In a randomized controlled trial, people with bipolar disorder who took Omega-3 supplements, went through longer periods of remission compared to the placebo (71
According to multiple studies including randomized controlled studies, other benefits of omega-3 include:
- Slowing the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as reducing joint tenderness and improving grip strength (72, 73, 74).
- Improving asthma control and reducing symptoms of seasonal allergies (5, 79).
- Improving ADHD and Autism symptoms in children (75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84).
Download Your Printable List of Anti-inflammatory Foods
Whew, did you get all that? If not, don’t worry. We have a simple Printable List of anti-inflammatory Foods. You can get this list for free here. Along with your list of anti-inflammatory foods, you will also get the Anti-Inflammation Meal Plans ebook! All of this is a gift from SwellNoMore. Just enter your email below to get your free anti-inflammatory e-book today!
SwellNoMore: An Anti-inflammatory Supplement
SwellNoMore is an anti-inflammatory supplement
. You can also get several of the above mentioned antioxidants from supplements like SwellNoMore. In fact, SwellNoMore contains many of the antioxidants and herbs mentioned above- Bromelain, quercetin, rutin, green tea extract, parsley, ginger, turmeric, and piperine. By taking SwellNoMore, you can get a combination of these powerful antioxidants in one supplement.
*Please schedule an appointment with your doctor if you are suffering from chronic edema. You should also talk with your doctor about any possible interactions your supplements might have with your specific medications or medical conditions.
About the Author
Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Human Nutrition. She is also the author of several books, including The Nourishing Meal Builder, and The Nourishing Meal Builder: The Pescatarian Edition. Ngo has been featured and quoted in Media Outlets like Parade Magazine, The Healthy, Eat This, Not That!, VeryWell Fit, Byrdie, and Authority Magazine.