The health benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet

It’s no big secret that foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats — high in essential nutrients and low in bad fats — are good for our health.

It’s pretty well established, too, that the low-calorie, vitamin-packed properties of these foods can help our bodies stay fit, protected and working properly. These foods have received quite a boost as positive findings on the health benefits of antioxidants, enzymes and essential fatty acids (omega-3s) continue to emerge.

Now, there’s a new reason to include apples, broccoli, olive oil and lean poultry in our diets. In addition to their nutrient content, foods low in sugar, saturated and trans fats, and those without preservatives, are part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Some foods, including white bread, boiled potatoes and others that cause rapid increases in blood sugar may promote chronic inflammation in the body, according to Canada’s National Post. In addition, markers of inflammation tend to increase as red and processed meats, excluding those that fall into the lean category, are consumed.

Omega-6 fats, in particular, are believed to promote inflammation, while omega-3s and richly colored fruits and vegetables reportedly have the opposite effect, says The Record, another Canadian newspaper.

Systemic inflammation has been connected with a host of conditions, including Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes, according to The Record. Even a healthcentral.com Web site, myibdcentral.com, has mentioned anti-inflammatory omega 3s as potentially beneficial for symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Results of a three-year study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism revealed that inflammation might play a role in osteoporosis. Over the period, it was observed that those with higher levels of inflammation lost more bone mineral density, and researchers concluded that “targeted anti-inflammatory therapy has potential for the prevention of osteoporosis.”

Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • VEGETABLES – broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts
  • FRUITS – blueberries, cherries and oranges
  • FISH – trout, salmon and cod
  • NUTS – almonds, flaxseed and walnuts
  • SPICES/HERBS – turmeric, ginger and garlic
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