Chronic inflammation can be detrimental to your health. It’s associated with diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

If you choose the right foods, what you eat can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods such as berries and dark chocolate has been associated with decreased inflammation.

As you incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, it may also be advantageous to cut back on foods thought to exacerbate inflammation such as: fried foods, processed meat, red meat, alcohol and added sugars, as previously reported by the Deseret News.

Let’s take a look at five anti-inflammatory foods.

What is the difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation?

There is a major difference between acute and chronic inflammation. While acute inflammation plays a role in helping your body heal from injury or infection, chronic inflammation can be detrimental to your health and is associated with chronic diseases.

Acute inflammation: Redness, swelling or pain surrounding a sudden injury, allergy or infection. During this natural response, the body sends inflammatory cells to affected areas to begin the healing process, per Cleveland Clinic. Acute inflammation can last days to weeks.

Chronic inflammation: Occurs when the body sends inflammatory cells when there is no injury, allergy, infection or danger. Chronic inflammation is associated with chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease, per Cleveland Clinic.

A body experiencing chronic inflammation thinks “it’s under consistent attack, so the immune system keeps fighting indefinitely,” says Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, medical editor of “Understanding Inflammation” from Harvard Health Publishing and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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5 anti-inflammatory foods

1. Berries

Berries are a superfood offering mental and physical health benefits that can help you maintain a healthy heart, combat depression and improve brain function, as previously reported by the Deseret News. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, berries are also known for being anti-inflammatory.

“From strawberries and blackberries to cranberries and blue­berries, these gemlike fruits are particularly potent in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity,” reports Harvard Health. “Along with fiber and vitamin C, berries possess plant pigment phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid, which may be behind their health benefits.”

A 2016 study found that in individuals who were overweight, those who regularly consumed strawberries had significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers when compared to those who did not eat strawberries.

5 reasons to eat more berries, a superfood packed with mental and physical health benefits

2. Olive oil

Extra-virgin olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation, according to research, which may be why olive oil boasts so many health benefits.

Research shows that extra-virgin olive oil may be as effective at fighting inflammation as ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammation drug. Oleocanthal, an antioxidant in olive oil, was shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, according to the study. Researchers suggest that the oleocanthal levels in 3.4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil has an equivalent effect to 10% of the adult dose of ibuprofen.

Extra-virgin olive oil has stronger anti-inflammatory properties than refined olive oil, according to research.

3. Fatty fish

Fatty, oily fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation, reports a 2017 study published in Biochemical Society Transactions.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week since it’s a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to keep the heart strong.

“The anti-inflammatory effects from omega-3s are helpful not just for relieving arthritis, but also for preventing other diseases linked to inflammation, such as heart disease. That’s important, considering these conditions are closely linked and often coexist,” per the Arthritis Foundation.

“Omega-3s lower levels of unhealthy blood fats called triglycerides, reduce the growth of plaques that clog arteries, raise levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and slightly lower blood pressure.”

If you do not enjoy fish, taking fish oil supplements could be as effective as eating fish, reports a study published in Circulation Research.

5 reasons to eat more fish

4. Dark chocolate

Compounds found in dark chocolate such as flavanols and polyphenols contain anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce inflammation in the body, reports Medical News Today.

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine found that consuming dark chocolate significantly reduced inflammation in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Participants who ate 30 grams of 84% dark chocolate everyday over the course of two months experienced a significant reduction of inflammatory biomarkers.

To enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits of dark chocolate, eat dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa and remember that the higher the percentage, the better, per Healthline.

5 physical and mental health benefits of dark chocolate

5. Nuts and seeds

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“Studies have found that consuming nuts and seeds is associated with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” reports Harvard Health.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that individuals who consume at least five 1-ounce servings of nuts every week had significantly lower levels of c-reactive protein (CRP), a protein produced by the liver when there is high inflammation in the body.

Walnuts, in particular, are effective in reducing inflammation.

“Walnuts have the highest omega-3 content, and researchers studying their effects have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis,” per the Arthritis Foundation. “Eating walnuts regularly can lower cholesterol, relax blood vessels to lessen stress on the heart and reduce blood pressure.”

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