foods that reduce inflammation
Image: Courtesy of Gaelle Marcel via Unsplash

Top Foods to Eat to Reduce Inflammation (and Which Ones to Avoid)

Garlic is one of them.

What we eat can increase or decrease inflammation in our bodies. Surprisingly, some inflammation in our body is actually a healthy response by our immune system, for example when our immune cells act and inflammation occurs to fight the invaders or repair the damaged tissue. However long term or chronic inflammation is not healthy. When inflammation occurs over a long period of time, whether due to genetics, autoimmune disorders, unhealthy lifestyle factors like lack of exercise, high stress and unhealthy diets, it can damage our cells and negatively and drastically affect our health. In fact many chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s have been linked to chronic inflammation in the body. Thankfully though, we can reduce chronic inflammation in our body through anti-inflammatory eating. Rebecca Gawthrone, dietitian and nutritionist, gave us the inside scoop. Keep reading to learn more! 

Top Foods to Eat to Reduce Inflammation (and Which Ones to Avoid)

What is anti-inflammatory eating?

Anti-inflammatory eating involves increasing our overall diet quality by consuming a wide variety of plant foods like fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and good fats like those in fatty fish, nuts and seeds. These foods have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory eating also involves reducing our intake of pro-inflammatory dietary components which can help reduce and minimize inflammation in our body. 

Here are the top foods to eat to reduce inflammation

While overall diet quality is most important and consuming a variety of plant foods which are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fibre and phyto-chemicals and foods rich in omega 3s is key, here are some top foods that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation in our bodies: 

  • Garlic: raw/fresh garlic contains compounds like allicin and sulfur that reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide, reducing inflammation in our bodies.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: contains compounds that research has found to reduce CRP, oleocanthal and other inflammatory markers, thus having anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Berries: blueberries, blackberries and other berries contain anthocyanins which gives them their vibrant color and work by blocking inflammation in our bodies.
  • Turmeric: contains the active compound curcumin which has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fatty Fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which our body metabolizes into compounds called resolvins and protectins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the inflammation that leads to metabolic diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
  • Avocados: contain a variety of compounds that lower levels of the inflammatory markers in our bodies.
  • Mushrooms: contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Ginger: contains a bioactive compound called gingerol which is a major inflammation fighter.
  • Nuts: including walnuts are high in omegas which can reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome.
  • Broccoli: rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which drive inflammation.
Image: Jocelyn Morales via Unsplash

Foods To avoid to reduce inflammation

Anti-inflammatory eating also involves reducing our intake of pro-inflammatory dietary components. These include:

  • Saturated fats 
  • Trans fats
  • Cholesterol 
  • Refined carbohydrates 
  • Advanced glycated end products 
  • Excess energy intake

Reducing our intake of these pro-inflammatory dietary components can help reduce and minimize inflammation in our body. 

If you are wanting to reduce inflammation in your body, aim reduce your intake of the following foods:

  • Refined carbohydrates such as white breads, biscuits and pastries
  • Deep-fried foods 
  • Soft-drinks, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Processed Meats including sausages, bacon, hot dogs, mince, pies, salami
Image: Mathilde Langevin via Unsplash

Meet Our Expert:

Rebecca Gawthrone, dietitian and nutritionist, is an expert on all things healthy eating. She started “Nourish Naturally” to help others learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle and eat in a cleaner way. She is an accredited Practicing Dietitian, accredited Nutritionist and a member of the Dietitians Association of Australia. Her food philosophy is to focus on nourishing your body and not restricting it in any way, shape, or form. She believes that health is about nourishment, not restriction and about choosing to nourish your body, not deprive it. She wants to help you fuel your body with lots of plant foods that energize your body and help it to thrive foods, while still enjoying the foods you love with balance. Because when you nourish yourself with enough healthy food without restricting your favorite foods, you’ll find the perfect balance. She wants to nourish together! You can follow her on Instagram here and on TikTok here

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