The basis of anti-inflammatory eating is to lower inflammation of any kind caused by foods. Avoidance of certain foods or food groups helps to lower inflammation as well as increasing intake of other food groups.
In general protein and fats from monounsaturated and omega-3 sources do not trigger inflammation, and aid in lowering inflammation. Carbohydrates that are in their purest forms such as fruits, vegetables and certain types of whole grains are thought to keep inflammation to a minimum. Organic produce is preferred.
Starchy processed carbohydrates, omega-6 fats (see below) and trans fats (hydrogenated fats that are used in foods to increase shelf life) increase inflammation and should be avoided or minimized.
Dairy products should be organic to avoid hormones which increase inflammation.
Choose a variety each week from the following foods:
Protein does not create inflammation in the body since there is little insulin response when we consume protein-rich foods. Types of protein that exist are:
- Lean Red Meat Choices (grass-fed preferred) – filet mignon, 7-15% ground meat, top sirloin, eye of the round, etc.
- Lamb/Pork/Veal – lean cuts
- Chicken/Turkey – skinless poultry, skinless thigh meat
- Fish – freshwater fish, shellfish, *salmon or other fatty fish, light tuna in water (wild fish preferred over farm raised)
- Eggs – organic free range preferred
- Cheese (grass-fed preferred) – hard European or other good quality hard cheeses
- Beans – garbanzo/chickpeas, kidney, pinto, black
- Cottage Cheese/Ricotta Cheese – organic preferred
- Nuts/Seeds – unsalted raw or dry roasted
- Nut Butters –natural peanut, almond or cashew butters
- Milk or yogurt – organic milk and plain low fat or whole milk yogurts
- Fruits –fresh organic fruit or unsweetened frozen or unsweetened applesauce
- Vegetables – fresh organic vegetables or lettuce
- Whole Grains: quinoa, steel-cut oats, buckwheat, brown or wild rice, yams (once or twice a week)
Breads, bagels, muffins, pasta, white rice, popcorn, tortillas, cereals (any kind), potatoes, crackers, chips, desserts
Choose as desired:
*Olive oil/ Walnut Oil
Coconut Oil- extra virgin organic
Butter - organic
Olive oil mayonnaise
Olive oil based dressings
**Omega 3 Fatty Acids: ground flax seeds, fish oil
Foods to Limit or Avoid:
Sugar and high sugar products
Any processed or refined foods (foods in a package with an extended shelf life)
Wheat and wheat products
Potatoes and potato products
Omega 6 Oils: corn, canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower, vegetable and other inexpensive oils used in processed foods
Caffeine and alcohol both aggravate stress and inflammation in the body and should be avoided or minimized
When possible grass-fed meat or cheese is preferred since the products they produce are higher in omega-3 fatty acids (versus corn/grain fed animals whose products produce more omega-6 fatty acids)
Treats to include if Desired:
High quality dark chocolate (greater than 70%) is considered an anti-oxidant food and does not trigger inflammation.
Good quality ice-cream (such as McConnell’s Santa Barbara or Häagen-Dazs Five) contains minimal high quality ingredients and consuming once or twice a week is acceptable.
*These foods are the highest in omega-3 fatty acids and should be consumed daily to lower inflammation.