7 Foods to Reduce Inflammation

If you suffer from arthritis, you know the pain of inflammation. It can even cause depression.  But you can fight back—with the foods you eat.

Start by kicking inflammation-causing sugar, white flour, and trans fats out of your diet. Instead, opt for these healing foods:

  • Hot pepper. It may set your tongue on fire, but hot pepper actually soothes inflammation in your body. Capsaicin (the stuff that makes peppers hot) thwarts inflammation and even eased arthritis patients’ pain in one study.

More good bets: ginger, turmeric, and curry powder.

  • Broccoli does double duty. It’s loaded with sulforaphane, a phytochemical that blocks cartilage-damaging enzymes in your joints—great for arthritis sufferers. Plus, it’s rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that battles inflammation and protects collagen (a major building block of cartilage).

More good bets: cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

  • Sweet red peppers pack a double punch, too. They’re bursting with vitamin C, and they get their scarlet color from carotenes—both antioxidants that may prevent inflammation-related diseases.

More good bets: winter squash, carrots, and kale.

  • Berries. Most berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and more) get their vivid hues from specific antioxidants, anthocyanins, that are even more powerful anti-inflammatories than vitamin C. Berries are a fantastic source of fiber, too, which has been shown to drastically reduce inflammation.

More good bets: cherries, plums, and eggplant.

  • Onions are rich in quercetin, a potent bioflavonoid that clamps down on cartilage-damaging enzymes and inflammation. Research is underway to see if quercetin could be used to treat cancer.

More good bets: apples and buckwheat.

  • Wild salmon is brimming with inflammation-fighting omega-3s. Choose wild-caught to avoid contaminants like cancer-linked PCBs.

More good bets: trout, walnuts, and flax seeds.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil. A unique anti-inflammatory compound in extra-virgin olive oil may be part of the reason why people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet rarely get heart disease. Drizzle it over salads and cooked veggies, or saute foods with it (stick to medium heat).