It’s one thing to have inflammation of your immune system in response to irritation, an injury or an infection. In those situations, inflammation is the immune system’s way of natural healing by sending the “first responders” or white blood cells to the affected area protecting the body from foreign substances. But when you are having chronic inflammation, this can chip away at the body’s healthy tissues triggering genetic mutations that can lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or Alzheimer’s.

Use an anti-inflammation diet

One way to combat chronic inflammation is by consuming an anti-inflammation diet.  Healthy food choices are always a wise decision and when combined with other healthy lifestyle patterns such as exercise, adequate sleep, reduced stress and not smoking, it can set you on the path towards breaking the cycle of chronic inflammation and possible increased risk of diseases.

Here are 4 food combos that should be eaten each day or at the very least, most days of the week.  If you don’t like one of the paired foods, then choose the other.  There are other nutritious foods that also would be good anti-inflammatory foods but these combos have an outstanding reputation for containing excellent sources of necessary nutrients to help us fight off inflammation whenever we can.

  1. Almonds/Walnuts

All nuts are always a good food choice but almonds and walnuts rise to the top.

Almonds edge out other nuts in the fact they contain more protein, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fat than other tree nuts.  Vitamin E’s primary job is as an antioxidant neutralizing reactive molecules called free radicals. Magnesium also fights inflammation by fighting off a substance called C-reactive protein, or CRP found in the blood indicating there is inflammation in the body. If you are not consuming adequate magnesium, you’re more likely to have elevated CRP levels.

Walnuts are well-known for their outstanding source of anti-inflammatory substances. Like almonds, walnuts also are rich in antioxidants of vitamin E, manganese, and copper. Walnuts are considered an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids called ALA that has been shown to reduce inflammation in cell culture and animal studiesResearch has shown that walnuts may play a part in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease – both related to inflammation – when consumed regularly.

  1. Blueberries/Strawberries

Berries of any kind are always a smart choice and whether you prefer blue or red, blueberries and strawberries are go-to anti-inflammatory foods.

The small but mighty blueberry is packed with antioxidants and polyphenols besides being rich in vitamin C and potassium. This superfood’s polyphenol content includes flavonoids, anthocyanidins, phenolic acids, and tannins that prevent and repair the cellular damage done by free radicals. Studies have shown blueberries substances may prevent cancer by slowing down the growth of cells and reducing inflammation.

Who doesn’t love strawberries and for good reason. This bright red berry also contains the all-important polyphenols in addition to a hefty dose of vitamin C. Vitamin C fights off inflammatory invaders that can do damage to the heart in addition to warding off free radicals. Vitamin C may also lower CRP, a risk factor cardiovascular disease. Arthritis is a form of chronic inflammation leading to stiffness and pain in the joints. Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen, a structural component of bones, blood vessels, cartilage and connective tissue. During chronic inflammation, collagen within cartilage may break down such as in osteoarthritis. Sufficient intake of vitamin C found in strawberries, helps keep cartilage and other connective tissues strong possibly relieving pain of arthritis.

  1. Spinach/Kale

Almost always listed on superfood lists, spinach and kale are two top foods for fighting off inflammation.

Spinach’s dark green color is letting you know the nutrient density of this remarkable leafy green.  It contains important anti-inflammatory substances of vitamin A, lutein, and beta carotene plus vitamin E. Vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Research has shown that people who eat leafy greens like spinach may have a reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Kale has graced the list of superfoods many times and deservedly so.  It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K and a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C.  Kale’s anti-inflammatory powers are boosted by the presence of glucosinolates, plus lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A and may help lower the risk of developing cataracts and atherosclerosis.

  1. Broccoli/Carrots

Here is a dynamic duo that when eaten frequently, are a force to deal with for chronic inflammation.

Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables that are high in phytochemicals called glucosinolates, powerful antioxidants.  Broccoli can also boast of being rich in vitamin C, potassium, calcium and vitamin A.  Cruciferous vegetables have been shown through research that they may possibly lower the risk of developing cancer.

Carrots bright orange color is always eye-catching and it should be.  That orange hue indicates the presence of beta carotene, a pigment abundant in plants and which the body can convert to vitamin A.  Carrots also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, strong antioxidants which may help reduce the risk of cancer by preventing damage to the healthy cells of the body.  Its fiber content can fill you up helping with weight loss to prevent the diseases of cardiovascular disease and diabetes which are related to obesity.

Cheryl Mussatto

Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City, an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, Ks where she teaches Basic Nutrition, and is a blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi and, an online market place connecting nutrition experts with customers worldwide. She can be contacted here.

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