Healthy Eating

What an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Looks Like According to an RD

Including the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.

By: Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC

An anti-inflammatory diet is gaining in popularity, and rightfully so. Since chronic inflammation is linked to many health risks — including diabetes, heart disease, and even an increased risk of obesity — it’s no wonder why people are jumping on the anti-inflammatory diet train in spades. 

However, you may be new to this eating style! So, if you’re curious about what exactly an anti-inflammatory diet entails and how to incorporate it into your lifestyle, read on for everything you need to know.

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What is an Anti-inflammatory Diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet involves adopting a way of eating that minimizes chronic inflammation and promotes overall well-being. This is achieved by prioritizing minimally processed and nutrient-dense foods. The diet emphasizes the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, focusing on whole foods such as beans, nuts, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. 

At the same time, an anti-inflammatory diet is generally low in sugar. Pro-inflammatory foods — such as fried foods, foods with large quantities of added sugar, and foods made with refined grains — are limited or avoided, as they can hinder the goals of reducing inflammation and promoting overall health. By being mindful of sugar intake and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods (like refined and processed foods), individuals can optimize the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet and support their well-being.

The Benefits of an Anti-inflammatory Diet

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is linked to a slew of positive health outcomes. That said, it’s important to remember that there’s no quick fix solution to enhancing overall health. It requires time and consistency! However, considering the many science-supported benefits and the minimal drawbacks of embracing this dietary approach, why not give it a go?

Based on research, here are the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet:

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5 Foods to Add to Your Anti-inflammatory Diet 

Generally speaking, following a nutrient-rich diet low in minimally-processed foods will likely help your body combat chronic inflammation. But among the list of anti-inflammatory foods out there, here are the top five that deserve a regular spot on your plate! 

#1 Olive Oil

Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean Diet, a diet known for its anti-inflammatory effects. What makes olive oil so unique is the phenolic plant compounds that offer anti-inflammatory effects. This oil is also loaded with healthy fats instead of saturated and trans-fats, making it an ideal addition to a healthy diet.

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#2 Salmon

Salmon and other cold-water oily fish are rich sources of DHA omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are important for brain, heart, and eye health. Plus, this nutrient has been linked to a reduction of chronic inflammation, explaining why fatty coldwater fish seems to always be recommended on an anti-inflammatory diet.

#3 Avocado

The beloved topping on toast and addition to sushi rolls is a popular food to add to an anti-inflammatory diet, as data has shown how eating this fruit can help people experience a reduction in inflammatory markers

RELATED: 7 Reasons to Add Avocado to Your Diet

#4 Oranges

Oranges and other citrus foods are rich in vitamin C,  a nutrient that supports antioxidant activities in the body, which can help reduce inflammation. Plus, some data suggests the flavonoids found in oranges and orange juice can help offer anti-inflammatory benefits as well.

RELATED: The 5 Best Vitamin C Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet

#5 Walnuts

Walnuts are the only nut that is an excellent source of ALA plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. And since data shows that ALA can offer anti-inflammatory benefits in certain situations, consuming ALA-rich walnuts can be a fantastic addition to an anti-inflammatory diet.

RELATED: The 4 Healthiest Nuts to Eat According to Experts

Anti-Inflammatory Foods For Your Overall Healthy Diet

Including anti-inflammatory foods in your overall healthy diet can be one change that may be extremely impactful for many reasons. From reducing the risk of certain chronic conditions to helping support cognitive health, reducing high levels of chronic inflammation can be an important goal to accomplish. Focusing on nutrient-rich and minimally-processed foods like walnuts, oranges, and salmon, while limiting pro-inflammatory foods like fried options and foods with added sugar can help people see the results they want to see in a natural and approachable way.