Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. It’s how your body lets you know something is wrong. But when inflammation doesn’t go away, it can become harmful. Find out how a healthy diet can reduce—or even prevent—chronic inflammation.
Inflammation isn’t always bad—it’s how your body lets you know something is wrong. But when inflammation doesn’t go away, it can become harmful. In fact, many studies have found that it may play a serious role in a wide variety of diseases, including heart disease. The good news? The same habits that keep your heart healthy can help reduce your chances of developing chronic inflammation: Get regular exercise, don’t smoke, and eat right. Here are specific foods that can help:
Make it your goal to eat two cups (or two pieces) of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables every day. Deep orange fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, and deep red or purple ones are particularly high in nutrients that can prevent inflammation, but all fruits and veggies will help. According to a 2001 Harvard University study, just one extra serving a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by four percent.
When it comes to fats, there are special types that can help to reduce inflammation. They are called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are the “beneficial fats” found in canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli), and fatty fish.
This type of fat is found in processed and fried foods. It increases shelf life and adds flavor, but it also clogs arteries, contributes to weight gain, and causes inflammation. Avoid packaged baked goods like crackers and cookies (or stay within portion sizes) and limit fried foods or those made with shortening.
Whole grains can help protect against disease. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are great at preventing and protecting against inflammation and keeping your heart healthy.