Inflammation is our body’s healthy response to fighting disease. But when it gets out of hand, inflammation can become chronic and lead to a whole host of health problems, from autoimmune diseases to cancer. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat are thought to contribute to inflammation, which is why some people who have inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders try out low-sugar diets. On the flip side, there are also foods to pile onto your plate that may actually tamp down inflammation. Read on for the latest science on anti-inflammatory options, plus how to enjoy these picks.
How to eat them: Chop up bell peppers and serve them with hummus or drizzled with a little red-wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Why they’re good for you: Bell peppers—especially the bright-red ones—are high in antioxidants and low in starch. Similar to spicy peppers, sweet bell peppers contain the chemical compound capsaicin, which is known to help reduce inflammation and potentially even pain.
How to eat them: Slice up pears and add them to a salad with walnuts and a soft cheese.
How to eat it: This fish is a Mediterranean staple. Roast a fillet of mackerel (or the whole fish if you’re adventurous) with a generous helping of herbs, olive oil, and lemon.
How to eat it: Make a spinach salad with a high-fat food like avocado in order to take full advantage of the veggie’s nutrients.
How to drink it: Black tea tastes great on its own as well as with a bit of milk and honey, or you can add some lemon and pomegranate juice for a refreshing beverage.
How to eat it: Buckwheat is used to make soba noodles, which you can get in grocery stores and use in soups. You can also buy the grain on its own and eat it in place of rice.
How to eat them: Many grocery stores sell prepackaged pomegranate seeds, but if you want to start with the full fruit, cut it in half and spoon the seeds into a bowl to munch on or add to salads.