Diet plays an important role when it comes to inflammation. In fact, one of the key factors in lowering inflammation is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. What that means is a diet based on as many whole and fresh foods as possible while avoiding processed and fast foods as well as those that contain a lot of sugar.
At the same time, eating seasonally is also a good idea for many reasons. Just what it sounds like, it means eating foods that are in season. This not only helps support your local growers, but it means you’ll be enjoying the freshest ingredients with maximum nutrition and taste, typically paying less for it, and limiting the impact on the environment too.
With winter just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about the best inflammation-busting foods you can eat during this season that typically brings not only joy but quite a bit of stress and not-so-healthy fare. Remember, just because the cold has returned, doesn’t mean you can’t have fresh produce – some fruits and vegetables are actually in their prime during the winter season.
Turnips are not only a great source of vitamin C, they contain a high amount of minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber, yet contain just 28 calories in a half-cup serving. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis and for scavenging free radicals, which can lead to can lead to chronic inflammation, something that’s been linked to a host of diseases and illnesses. Turnip leaves, in particular, are an excellent source of vitamin K, a direct regulator of the inflammatory response, while its omega-3 acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are the building blocks for the body’s anti-inflammatory molecules.
Get more turnips in your diet by using turnip greens in your salads, and preparing turnips as a side dish more often. It’s easy to do, just one option is to add peeled, chopped or sliced turnips to a skillet with some chopped onions and garlic, and then cook them until tender. Then, add the turnip greens, cooking until they wilt. Squeezing on a bit of fresh lemon juice and a shake or two of pepper provides a healthful, flavorful kick.
Winter squash has to be one of the best healthy comfort foods there are. It comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes too, from butternut and acorn to spaghetti and beyond. You can prepare those achy joints for winter’s cold by boosting up on their potent inflammatory properties too – while it won’t cure your arthritis, its antioxidants can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Its fiber is good for reducing inflammation too. Fiber helps you to have regular, healthy bowel movements which eliminate both toxins and inflammation.
There are many different ways to prepare squash, but one of the easiest is to simply boil it and mash it, mixing in some garlic for flavor and added medicinal benefits. If you’ve gone gluten-free, you can even turn spaghetti squash into a tasty gluten-free pasta by following this easy recipe:
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Cut spaghetti squash in half, and scrape out seeds with a spoon.
- Brush each half with olive oil and then place them on the pan with the cut side facing forward.
- Roast for 45 to 50 minutes.
- Remove squash from oven, and use a fork to scrape out “spaghetti.”
- Place on a dish or bowl until ready to use.
You’ve probably heard that popular holiday song that includes the lyrics, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This year, instead of just singing along, you might want to roast some of your own. They have a sweet, mild flavor, a crumbly texture, and are most plentiful during the winter. Chestnuts contain a good amount of copper along with manganese and selenium, which play key roles in the body’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory reactions. They also provide vitamin C, B vitamins, folate and dietary fiber. Despite the “nut” in their name, chestnuts are actually much lower in fat than other nuts and seeds, and of course, what they do contain is healthy fat, which is important for battling inflammation and many other bodily processes.
Of course, fresh chestnuts must be peeled and cooked before using, which can take a lot of time, so you may want to buy dried or canned chestnuts which can be used as is. You can add peeled and cooked chestnuts to a savory pie filling or stuffing, or incorporate them into a soup.
Brussels sprouts are naturally low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin C and folate. Consuming them is a good way to avoid chronic, excessive inflammation through a wide range of nutritional benefits. They’re rich in glucosinolate which is known to help regulate the body’s inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system and prevent unwanted inflammation. The glucobrassicin found in this winter superfood may be converted into an isothiocyanate molecule called ITC, or indole-3-carbinol which is an anti-inflammatory compound that can prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses at a very early stage.
An easy way to cook Brussels sprouts is to cut off the ends and just add a few simple ingredients, such as olive oil, sea salt, garlic, pepper and lemon, and then roast them in the oven.
Citrus fruits are at their peak in the wintertime, so be sure to get your fill. They’re not only juicy and delicious but they’re extremely rich in vitamin C, something that’s important for building and repairing blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone, which means it’s also helpful for those suffering from osteoarthritis and other inflammation-related ailments. Citrus fruits are also excellent sources of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, providing kind of a “double whammy,” if you will.
There are many ways to enjoy citrus fruits, you can eat them on their own, garnish your water with a lemon or lime, toss a few orange slices into a savory salad, or squeeze lemon or lime juice onto foods when you’re cooking.
Broccoli is extraordinary high in antioxidants which make it a potent inflammatory fighter. Add it to as many stir-fries and vegetable dishes as you can, and munch on it raw too. Steaming it with a little coconut aminos, a popular gluten-free, vegan soy sauce alternative, is a delicious and extra-healthy way to enjoy it.
Carrots provide a significant boost of that well-known antioxidant, beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Both are believed to be excellent at battling inflammation. Snack on baby carrots during the big game, or whenever the urge hits, or lightly steam carrots (avoid overcooking which kills their nutrients) and serve as a side dish.