Nutrition News: Anti-Inflammatory Diet
My daughter recently had my first grandchild (pretty exciting, right?). She's on a journey to getting back to her prepregnancy weight and lowering her blood pressure and the accompanying swelling that she struggled with. She's cut out processed and salty foods, and she's exploring an anti-inflammatory diet.
Just what is an anti-inflammatory diet?
In a nutshell, anti-inflammatory foods are those that most of us know are healthy -- lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices.
What may be surprising is that foods with saturated fat are inflammatory. That means high-fat dairy is considered inflammatory, but low-fat dairy is not. Skim milk, for example, isn't inflammatory; whole milk is. Choose baked chicken over fried chicken, a filet over a rib-eye.
In addition, you want to avoid highly processed, overly greasy or super sweet foods. Limit the cakes, cookies and ice cream, as well as the processed meats, butter, whole milk and cheese.
Weight gain, high blood sugar and high cholesterol are all related to inflammation. Sugar causes the body to release inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Cut out added sugars as much as you can. Natural sugars, found in fruits and vegetables, are processed differently by the body.
Just what should you eat?
When it comes to fruits and veggies, go for variety and lots of color. Research has shown that vitamin K-rich leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, curb inflammation, as do broccoli and cabbage. And the substance that gives fruits such as cherries, raspberries and blackberries their color is a type of pigment that also helps fight inflammation.
High-fiber foods also help with inflammation, so it's best to choose whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole-wheat bread, as well as beans.
Fat seems to play a big role in inflammation. For example, monounsaturated fats (like the kind in olive and canola oils) are helpful; saturated fats are not. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, sardines and walnuts reduce inflammation.