Inflammation and Your Diet
Your body needs some inflammation to fight infection and speed healing. But too much for too long can push your immune system to attack healthy organs and tissues. This can lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and irritable bowel diseases.
A study published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests diet's impact on heart health is partly related to inflammation. The study found that higher levels of inflammatory markers were associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease. Our dietary choices can increase or decrease levels of these compounds.
To lower inflammatory markers, choose green, leafy vegetables; dark yellow vegetables; whole grains; fruits; tea; coffee and fish. Red meat, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and sweetened beverages were associated with higher pro-inflammatory markers. Researchers found dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential were associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The study only looked at women, but researchers said the results would likely apply to men as well.
How do you put this into practice? Plan your menu around foods such as tomatoes, blueberries, almonds, walnuts, lentils and salmon. Stock up on salad fixings. Greens such as collards, broccoli, kale and spinach have antioxidants and other compounds that can help reduce inflammation and keep day-to-day damage to your cells to a minimum. Spice your foods with turmeric, rosemary, cinnamon, cumin and ginger. Research has found they may slow down processes in your body that lead to inflammation.
Q and A
Q: I used to meal prep, but now I work from home. Is it still a good idea to meal prep?
A: Prepping even a few staple items for the week can make healthy eating so much easier. As long as you're cooking, make a little more -- and freeze it -- or use it in another dish. Even though many of us are working more from home, we still have work to do -- Zoom meetings, reports, helping with homework, laundry, etc. Meal prepping can help keep healthy eating plans on track. Try batch-cooking chili or chicken tortilla soup, and freezing it in portions. You can prep quinoa ahead to add to salads later in the week. It's also helpful to cut up veggies in advance for a quick veggie tray or to use in a stir-fry. The more you do ahead, the easier it is to get dinner on the table.
The 2020 Dietary Guidelines continue to recommend at least two servings of fish a week. Here's a heart-healthy recipe, from Good Housekeeping, that's quick and full of protein and fiber. You can substitute any kind of fish you like.
COD IN PARCHMENT WITH ORANGE-LEEK COUSCOUS