We all know that we should be eating our greens. No matter your health or fitness goals, you’ll be hard-pressed to find advice that doesn’t somehow include “eat more vegetables!” But some veggies don’t get the attention they deserve. So while we love all veggies for their myriad of health benefits, we’re shining the spotlight on some underrated (and wildly delicious) foods that fight inflammation. These anti-inflammatory vegetables offer some seriously impressive perks — trust us, you’ll want to add them to your diet.
Here’s our roundup of some of our favorite anti-inflammatory vegetables, plus some delicious ways to enjoy them.
Why Should We Care About Inflammation?
While there’s plenty of mixed messages regarding the best diet and the healthiest foods to eat, most eating plans agree on one thing: people should incorporate more foods that fight inflammation.
But, not all inflammation is bad. In fact, your body wouldn’t be able to repair and heal without it. It’s how your muscles get stronger and how your body protects itself from foreign invaders like viruses, chemicals, and things like pollen.
The problem occurs when inflammation becomes chronic. In fact, chronic inflammation has been called the root of all disease, so it’s something that should be on our radar. Luckily, simple lifestyle hacks such as loading up on foods that fight inflammation can help reduce inflammation and thus the risk for disease and illness!
Load up On These Five Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables
Mother Nature provides us with tons of natural ways to reduce inflammation from the inside out — starting with what we put on our plates. In fact, incorporating more foods that fight inflammation is one of the best ways to prevent acute inflammation from turning chronic.
While all veggies provide their own unique benefits and nutrients, here are five often-overlooked anti-inflammatory vegetables that are nutrient-dense powerhouses!
Low in calories, bright in color, and full of flavor, peppers are one of the best foods to fight inflammation! The summer months are the perfect time to snag these anti-inflammatory vegetables — check your local farmer’s market and CSAs, but we love them all year round as a versatile and delicious addition to a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet.
Bell Peppers contain high amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants like quercetin, are more than 90% water, and are full of other nutrients that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
How to Enjoy Peppers
- In salads
- Sauteed in everything from stir-fries to currys to soups
- Stuffed with grains, beans, and spices
- Grilled and served as a healthy side dish
Go sweet with bell peppers, or kick up the heat with cayenne or jalapenos.
Ok, ok, technically they’re a fruit, not a veggie, but we’re including tomatoes on our list of powerhouse anti-inflammatory vegetables because that’s how most of us think of (and eat) them!
Lycopene is the main antioxidant that makes tomatoes one of the best anti-inflammatory foods. It’s best absorbed alongside a source of fat and seems to be more bioavailable when cooked, so this is one example where raw isn’t always best when it comes to anti-inflammatory vegetables! In fact, research suggests lycopene and antioxidant levels can increase by as much as 62% when cooked! Sautee, stew, or otherwise cook down your tomatoes in olive oil if you’d like, or even enjoy tomato juice in a virgin Bloody Mary.
Other Delicious Ways to Enjoy Tomatoes
Tomatoes often get treated as an afterthought as salad toppings or maybe a thin slice on a sandwich. Start eating tomatoes like you mean it!
- Add to salads where tomatoes star instead of getting tossed on as an afterthought
- Enjoy stewed tomatoes over rice
- Blend up tomato-based soups
- Make homemade red pasta sauces
Everyone knows kale as the ultimate health food, but don’t overlook its humble cousin, good old broccoli. Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that’s been known for its impressive anti-inflammatory properties.
The best part about this anti-inflammatory vegetable is that you can basically add broccoli to any healthy dish you can think of. Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate it into a healthy anti-inflammatory diet.
Tasty Ways to Enjoy Broccoli
- Add to salads and soups
- Serve with pasta dishes
- Enjoy as a healthy pizza topping
When in doubt, steam it as a quick side to any meal.
Turnips aren’t exactly trending in the health food scene, but we’d argue they should be! Especially when it comes to foods that fight inflammation. If you’re not familiar with the turnip, they look a bit like a beet or other root veggie with a purple, green, or red-colored bulb/root with greens growing out. You can eat both the root and greens, and the greens have been shown to be especially rich in antioxidants. Here are yummy ways to incorporate turnips into an anti-inflammatory diet.
How to Make Turnips Taste Delish
- Roast sliced turnip and enjoy in stir-fries
- Use the root as an alternative to french fries
- Cook up the greens like you would collard greens and enjoy as a nutrient-dense vegetable side dish
Not just good for warding off vampires (we kid!) garlic is also amazing for spicing up any dish. Plus, research has shown that it comes with some powerful anti-inflammatory properties, thus why it’s on our list of foods that fight inflammation.
If you’re worried about bad breath, that’s what teeth brushing, and mints are for — don’t be shy with your garlic! Dishes are so much more flavorful with a clove or two.
How to Enjoy Garlic
- Saute it and add to pasta sauces
- Add garlic to soups and stews
- Blend into your homemade salad dressings
- Whisk into your breakfast omelets
Smash your garlic with the back of a knife. It makes removing the skin way easier and also releases the good-for-you compounds, meaning you get more out of it.
We’re always a fan of multitasking with our diet whenever possible, and anti-inflammatory vegetables do just that. Not only do they give us tons of other vitamins, minerals, and benefits, but they also provide us with some seriously impressive anti-inflammatory properties (win, win!) By adding some of these foods to your diet, you’ll be doing your body and health one of the biggest possible favors, while maybe even discovering some new favorite veggies!