(GoHealthier.com) – We hear all the time about how important our food choices are, although the specifics can vary depending on the diet. Healthy meal options offer benefits to our health just as much as our physiques — and understanding why certain foods are important is key to appreciating their place on our plates.
In most cases, recommendations come down to one common element: inflammation, which experts believe plays a significant role in most chronic illnesses. Every food we eat either fights or contributes to this common symptom, so regardless of the condition we’re hoping to slow or heal, diet will eventually tip the scales for most of us.
Choosing the right foods can make a noticeable difference for many people struggling with poor health. The following anti-inflammatory foods could help turn the tables and improve or even eliminate some symptoms.
Bright, colorful and sweet, most berries contain a powerful antioxidant called myricetin. Experts believe it fights inflammation in the brain that, over time, can lead to neurodegenerative diseases. Diets rich in this nutrient could help protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and multiple sclerosis.
Other Colors of the Rainbow
Carrots, peppers, cabbages and apples get some of their bright colors from another antioxidant called luteolin. Its anti-inflammatory effects make it a first-line defender against cancer. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine recommend luteolin-rich foods to help fight hypertension and numerous additional inflammatory diseases.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
Spinach and kale contain lutein, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Many experts believe diets containing ample amounts of this nutrient can reduce inflammation in the gut and, in turn, lower colon cancer risks. Cruciferous greens, which include broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage and kale, also contain sulfur compounds, which are well known for their ability to combat inflammation. Cauliflower also falls into this category.
The omega-3 fatty acids present in many varieties of fish may cut inflammation in the cardiovascular system effectively enough to slash heart disease risks. These healthy fats may also improve insulin sensitivity, reducing a person’s chances of developing diabetes. For best results, the American Heart Association recommends eating low-mercury varieties of seafood like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon and pollock twice a week.
Packed with a variety of inflammation-busting nutrients, nuts are an excellent go-to for improved health. Studies have shown that regularly eating mixed nuts can lower the amount of oxidative stress that affects the body, reducing cardiovascular disease and diabetes risks. Adding nuts to the diet may also aid in weight loss, improving both short- and long-term health.
Edible mushrooms add a pleasant, earthy tone to dishes, and they’re full of health-boosting nutrients. They contain multiple compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties with demonstrated benefits against certain types of arthritis and edema. Mushroom intake may also improve blood sugar and protect against liver damage and numerous forms of cancer.
All foods, healthy and unhealthy, can take time to affect our health, so we may not immediately see the impacts of our choices. The sooner we adopt healthier diets, the more likely we are to avoid numerous preventable illnesses. Feeding our bodies with the right building blocks gives every system its greatest chance at keeping us at our very best.
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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