Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory properties. It’s believed that walnuts may decrease a protein in the blood known as C-reactive protein (CRP), which serves as an inflammation marker typically associated with cardiovascular disease risk (Zhao and Etherton, 2004). One study found that omega-3 was effective for reducing the inflammation and typical morning stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis (Covington, 2004). It’s easy to incorporate walnuts into a healthy diet by adding them to soups, salads or baked goods.
Cherries are rich in a phytonutrient known as anthocyanin, a pigment responsible for giving cherries their deep ruby color. This powerful antioxidant holds precious natural anti-inflammatory agents that are thought to help ease pain. One research study looked at long-distance runners and found that ingesting cherry juice for one week prior to and during their run helped to minimize post-workout muscle pain(Kuehl, 2010). Cherries can be enjoyed alone, blended into a refreshing smoothie or used as an ingredient in savoury sauces.
Ginger is a common ingredient in a number of Asian dishes and is believed to have potent anti-inflammatory agents known as gingerols. One study found that a specific gingerol known as 6-gingerol inhibited the production of nitric oxide, a damaging free radical (Ippoushi, 2003). Other researchers indicate that ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties function more like a suppressant to specific pro-inflammatory compounds (Phan, 2005). Ginger can be steeped into a tea, added to simple stir-fry recipes, or dried and incorporated into a homemade trail mix.
Although research on the effects of the inflammation-fighting diet continues to develop, it’s certain that reducing inflammation goes way beyond the individual foods we eat. Maintaining a healthy weight along with a smoke-free lifestyle is still one of the highest-regarded ways we can reduce our risk of chronic disease.