Is your cooking style fueling or cooling the slow burn of chronic inflammation? We could all use a few friendly reminders once in a while about how to clean up our cupboards (and arteries) and improve our diets. Here's a list of three changes you can make in your diet, cooking style, or shopping list to calm down the flames of chronic inflammation that could be injuring your family's hearts.
We're happy to say this list will send you to the grocery store, farmers' market, or, better yet, your own garden. In any case, not the pharmacy. After all, we want to fill your pantry, not your medicine cabinet.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips
1. Go Nuts
They're packed with antioxidant vitamins, fiber, magnesium, the amino acid L-arginine, and even omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients work together to keep inflammation in check by decreasing blood levels of inflammatory markers (such as CRP, interleukin-6 and others). They also don't contribute to inflammation. That makes them the perfect substitute for sugary snacks! As a plus, nuts keep your cholesterol levels in check and can help boost your good cholesterol.
We'd like to give a special shout out to cashews and walnuts as a few stunning studies demonstrated their ability to control weight, blood glucose levels, and cholesterol levels.
Eat 1.5-2 ounces of nuts per day. True, they can range from about 150-200 calories per ounce. That's no reason to shy away from them, though. Replace them for other foods high in sugar and saturated fat and keep the portion in control.
Snack on them raw or roasted, sprinkle them in a salad or grain dish, or throw them in your baked recipes ground or whole. Some nuts, such as pine nuts, lend extremely well to pasta dishes or sautes. Coat your meats with pistachios or your fish with pecans. Don't forget all the tasty, creamy nut butters out there.
Do your body a favor. Make sure your cupboard always has a supply of nuts.
2. Generously flavor your food with antioxidant-rich herbs and spices
Get garlic, ginger, and all the green herbs you can find in the market off this page and on your shopping list!
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that after consuming a regular, defined amount of various herbs and spices for one week, there was less oxidation of cholesterol and a reduction in blood inflammatory markers. Clove, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric showed the most outstanding protective results.
Here's a few other ideas that you can use fresh or dried: basil, bay leaves, chervil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, peppermint, sage, tarragon, or thyme.
3. Cook cruciferous!
We can't say enough about this food group! These veggies have antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals that provide anti-inflammatory protection. A report in a 2014 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women who at 1.5 cups of cruciferous veggies per day had up to 13-25% lower levels of inflammation than those who ate the fewest.
These under-appreciated veggies usually get pushed aside for being bland, boring, or bitter. Pair your cruciferous veggies with a colorful veggie to rev up your recipes. For example, pair broccoli with sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts with apples, and cauliflower with carrots. Pair them with omega-3 rich fish and you've just taken your anti-inflammatory diet to a whole new level.
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