Small, gradual changes are a great way to start incorporating healthy, anti-inflammatory foods into your lifestyle. The name of the game is to focus on whole, nutrient-rich foods that energize you and to move away from processed, unbalanced foods that zap your energy. What does that nutrient-rich lifestyle look like? Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and minerals to lower inflammation.
There are numerous nutritious compounds found in a vast array of produce. However, a few powerhouse fruits and veggies stand out to fight inflammation and restore your health at a cellular level to keep you feeling energized every day.
Tomatoes are known for their incredible antioxidant content including lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. They’re also full of phytonutrients and a good source of vitamin E and manganese. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes so you can get creative with trying a new variety each week. Eating tomatoes has been linked to heart health as well as shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Surprisingly, tomatoes don’t have to be a deep red color to be a great source of lycopene and the lycopene isn’t destroyed when tomatoes are cooked. There are so many ways to enjoy tomatoes. Chop up heirloom tomatoes and drizzle them with balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper for an appetizer, cut up a handful of cherry tomatoes for an omelet, or toss some grape tomatoes into a salad.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens don’t mean succumbing to steamed spinach every day. These veggies are super high in vitamin A, C, and K, as well as loaded with nutrients in each bite. Get creative and try roasting, poaching, or grilling these leafy veggies for more flavor. You can easily add in leafy greens to your smoothies or juices for an extra boost of vitamins. Try spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, bok choy, and any other leafy greens that are fresh in your local produce aisle.
This cruciferous vegetable is soaring with vitamin C. Cauliflower is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help activate detoxification enzymes. We often fail to give our body’s detox system enough nutritional support, which is why cruciferous vegetables are so important to include in our everyday lifestyle. There are so many ways to enjoy this white veggie. You can eat cauliflower raw as crudité with guacamole or hummus, roast it with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper for a side dish; or sauté it with garlic and fresh herbs.
This is another vegetable that has a strong impact on our body’s detox system and it’s rich in vitamins K, C, and beta-carotene. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and full of phytonutrients that can help lower your risk of chronic inflammation. Roast broccoli with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper; or steam it on the stovetop and then puree it in a blender with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper for a creamy pureed soup.
Beets are deliciously high in folate and manganese. Their antioxidant betalain gives beets their beautiful red color. They’re a great anti-inflammatory veggie that can repair cells and give you a dose of magnesium and potassium to fight inflammation. Roast beets in the oven with olive oil, then transfer to a food processor to puree for an easy roasted beet dip you can serve with toast or crackers.
Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant found in dark berries as well as olive oil and citrus. It’s a flavonoid (a phytonutrient that’s rich in fresh foods) to fight inflammation lurking in your body. Toss a handful of fresh blueberries into your morning oatmeal or your favorite muffin and bread recipe for a sweet touch.
Pineapple is soaring with vitamin C, B1, manganese, and potassium. It’s full of phytonutrients and can be a great fruit to eat for digestion. Chop a fresh pineapple into small pieces and toss them into puddings, rice dishes ,or green salads for a sweet touch without adding refined sugar.
By Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP