Foods to Fight Inflammation and Achy Joints
There are several choices that we have to be able to reduce inflammation in our achy joints. One way is to incorporate foods into our diets that would decrease the body’s production of inflammatory compounds, fight harmful free radicals and boost the immune system. By including healthful fats, like olive oil, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, seeking out antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and including pungent foods and spices that have inflammation-fighting effects a part of your diet, may just give you some relief from achy joints.
Make these a part of your daily meal plan:
- Walnuts- A source of omega-3s, walnuts appear to counter some of the inflammatory processes that lead to heart disease. They are packed with other healthful compounds, including vitamin E, which is a powerful immune booster
How to do it: Toss cubes of cooked winter squash with toasted walnuts, cinnamon and honey; add chopped walnuts, dried apricots and curry powder to brown rice; purée walnuts, cooked lentils and garlic with enough olive oil to make a creamy dip.
- Black cherry juice- Tart cherries are just one of those foods which contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids. Both have been known to slow down inflammation and relieve osteoarthritis. In fact, tart cherry juice is a rich source of antioxidants and is purported to have the highest ORAC antioxidant level (a measure of the ability of a food to stop free radicals)of tested fruits and vegetables. Many claim that this juice not only eases pain but can make for a restful night’s sleep. The most likely reason would be that tart cherry juice contains melatonin that can help improve sleep. How to do it: Come to class! Learn how to make Hot Tart Cherry Tea
- Onions- Onions are high in quercetin, a type of antioxidant that inhibits enzymes that trigger inflammation; onions also contain sulfur compounds that are used to manage the body’s immune system. Other good sources of quercetin include apples, broccoli, red grapes or grape juice and tea.
How to do it: Top baby spinach leaves with thinly sliced red onions, sliced apples and chopped walnuts; arrange thick slices of yellow onion on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and minced rosemary, and broil; add diced sweet onions to chopped tomatoes, minced mild chili peppers and cilantro for a simple salsa.
- Blueberries- Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol antioxidant that boosts immunity and protects the body from free radical damage, which triggers inflammation. Other good sources of polyphenols include blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries.
How to do it: Make a delicious smoothie by using frozen blueberries, ginger, walnuts and bananas along with non dairy milk; serve sliced strawberries with balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper.
- Sweet potatoes- Sweet potatoes are rich in carotenoids, antioxidants that, like anthocyanins, boost immunity and minimize inflammation. Other good sources of carotenoids are deep orange, red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, winter squash, red peppers, mangoes and papayas.
How to do it: Baked sweet potatoes and then cream them with finely grated ginger and cinnamon; toss cubes of butternut squash with chopped basil, red pepper flakes and olive oil.
- Dark Greens- Greens are rich in inflammation-fighting carotenoids, as well as immune-boosting vitamin E and so great for immunity. Choose kale, chard, collards and broccoli. Broccoli leaves are excellent for reducing eye inflammation too! Has twice the vitamin C than an orange and like other dark greens, is loaded with calcium. Always buy fresh with bright green color and firm stalks.
How to do it: Steaming broccoli is the best way to obtain the most nutrients. Stir a handful of sliced greens into nearly any soup; sauté sliced greens with olive oil, onions, garlic then end with dried cranberries and walnut pieces on top.
- Garlic- Like onions, garlic is rich in sulfuric compounds like sulforaphane, that stimulate the immune system by boosting the activity of natural killer and T helper cells. Garlic is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent and is great for arthritis. Keep away from heat for 10 minutes.
How to do it: Add whole garlic cloves, dried red chili peppers and sprigs of rosemary to a bottle of olive oil, for a spicy oil blend; roast chunks of carrots, beets, brussel sprouts, onions and parsnips with whole garlic cloves and sprigs of fresh thyme.
- Pineapple- Bromelain, found in the pineapple stem, is an enzyme that decreases inflammation and has some immune-enhancing effects. Pineapple is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C.
How to do it: Toss chunks of fresh pineapple with pomegranate seeds; serve pineapple juice and sparkling water over ice with whole raspberries; marinate salmon in pineapple juice and grated ginger before grilling.
- Ginger- If minor aches and pains are an issue for you, try fresh ginger root which is an anti-inflammatory compound. Ginger is useful for relieving symptoms associated with arthritis, bursitis and more. How to do it: Brew ginger tea by boiling then steeping slices of ginger root; toss steamed kale with finely grated ginger, minced garlic, sesame seeds and tamari; garnish carrot soup with freshly grated ginger and a bit of lemon zest.
- Turmeric- The key component in curry, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has anti-inflammatory effects. It is often used to ease joint pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
How to do it: Add turmeric and chopped walnuts to stir fry; cook greens with a little coconut milk, minced garlic and curry powder, and stir in a little toasted sesame seed oil before serving; rub slices of organic tofu with arrowroot or cornstarch, curry powder and salt and pepper before sautéing in coconut oil.