6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Diet
If you’ve been looking into what to eat when you have psoriasis, you’ve probably heard some buzz about an anti-inflammatory diet. Anti-inflammatory foods are ones said to lower the inflammation in the body. And while these foods haven’t been scientifically proven to reduce the frequency or duration of psoriasis flare-ups, many people say they’re helpful.
“Almost all disease is caused by inflammation, and the longer the body is in a state of inflammation, the more serious the disease,” explains Christina Pirello, a chef, cookbook author, and leukemia survivor who swears by the benefits of whole foods for people with chronic conditions.
Plus, these are generally considered healthy foods to incorporate into meals, so they’re worth trying to see if they have a positive effect on your condition. Here are six anti-inflammatory foods you may want to add to your grocery list.
Look for fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, suggests Elizabeth DeRobertis, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian and director of the Nutrition Center at Scarsdale Medical Group in New York. Regular consumption of these fish have been shown to lower inflammation in the body in several studies, including one published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found eating about 5 ounces of salmon three times per week to be more effective at reducing inflammation than taking fish-oil capsules.
Know that high-fat animal proteins, like those in red meat, are thought to increase inflammation, so consider swapping in a salmon fillet for a steak to reap the benefits.
When you want something sweet, berries are a tasty alternative to ice cream or candy, especially since processed, highly-refined carbohydrate foods are thought to exacerbate inflammation, says DeRobertis. All types of berries are high in a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
There have been numerous studies on the immune-system benefits of berries. For example, in a study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more natural killer (NK) cells than those who did not. DeRobertis explains that NK cells are produced by the body to keep the immune system functioning properly.
In a review of several studies published in the journal International Journal of Molecular Sciences, scientists noted that strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries may also help decrease inflammation and may even lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Artichokes are not only a yummy veggie, they also contain polyphenols, a large group of disease-fighting plant chemicals. “They’re also a treasure trove of anti-inflammatory antioxidants,” explains Pirello, so they fight cellular damage.
In fact, a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that artichokes were one of the top vegetables in terms of total antioxidant levels. “That's a lot of power for these simple, easy-to-cook and yummy vegetables,” Pirello notes.
Roasted Cruciferous Veggies
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, contain flavonoids and carotenoids, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, broccoli is rich in the antioxidant sulforaphane, says DeRobertis.
Roasting these veggies is a great way to make them extra tasty and to make them feel hearty, so you may be more likely to replace the carbohydrate at the meal, which has multiple benefits DeRobertis says. “It helps to save calories, which we already know lowering calories helps inflammation, and helps you avoid the gluten that would be in other side dishes, like pasta.” Gluten is said to be inflammatory and is a trigger for some people with psoriasis.
Plus, “Roasting vegetables requires some oil—ideally olive oil—which is another healthy way to add an additional anti-inflammatory ingredient to your meal,” DeRobertis says.
This sweet and sometimes tart fruit is high in antioxidants called catechins and anthocyanins, says DeRobertis. And like artichokes, cherries are also high in polyphenols.
A review published in Nutrients found that eating cherries was shown to reduce inflammation in 11 out of 16 studies, and consuming cherries reduced markers of oxidative stress in eight out of 10 studies.
DeRobertis suggests dividing your cherries into portions of about 15 to 20 pieces, which total about 100 calories each, for antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy snacks. Another idea is to use just a few ounces of tart cherry juice and mix with seltzer to make a low-calorie drink and get the same benefits.
Mushrooms contain a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine that can help fight inflammation. Plus, they’re rich in essential minerals, says DeRobertis.
There are many types of mushrooms, including morel, portobello, porcini, shiitake and chanterelle. Mushrooms can be a delicious side dish to go with a meal, can be included in soups and sauces, or can be the focus of a meatless meal using a large portobello mushroom in place of beef for a burger.
Foraging wild mushrooms has become a trendy pastime, with apps that can help people identify which are safe to eat. But know that there are extremely poisonous varieties, too, so it’s much more foolproof to pick them up from your local farmers’ market or grocery store.