It’s the absolute best anti-inflammatory food, according to registered dietitians

Plus, easy ways to incorporate it into your diet.

While inflammation is not inherently bad and plays an important role as part of the body’s natural defense system, high levels of chronic inflammation can cause all sorts of health problems. “Chronic low-grade inflammation can cause a host of symptoms throughout the body. Digestive problems, brain fog, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, weight gain, hormonal imbalance and autoimmune disease are all signs that the body is struggling to manage inflammation,” says the functional medicine nutritionist. Barbara Sobel, MS, CNS, LND. She adds that what we eat is one of the biggest modifiers of inflammation.

There are many, a lot foods and drinks that are anti-inflammatory help prevent chronic inflammation. Coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and herbs are anti-inflammatory, and it’s best to eat a wide variety of these foods to get a wide range of nutritional benefits. But if you want to focus on adding one amazing anti-inflammatory food to your diet, there’s one in particular that health experts recommend: berries.

Related: How to reduce inflammation in the body, according to doctors

Why berries are so good for preventing chronic inflammation

Whether your favorite is blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or cranberries, there are specific common properties of berries that are associated with preventing chronic inflammation. According to Sobel, this includes antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols (a specific type of antioxidant).

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, registered dietitian who leads a team of nutritionists in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, says that because most of the scientific research surrounding berries and health has been done on animals and in labs, it’s hard to know exactly why they’re so powerful in protection against inflammation, but there is much research supporting the benefits of antioxidants, including polyphenols. Scientific research shows that antioxidants protect tissues in the body from damage caused by free radicals, which in turn prevents an inflammatory response.

Related: This is the absolute worst habit for inflammation, according to a cardiologist

Yarker also says that the fiber that berries contain is also linked to preventing chronic inflammation. One reason this is particularly noteworthy is that as many as 90 percent of Americans do not eat the recommended daily amount of 25 grams per day. Including berries in your diet is an easy (and delicious!) way to increase your intake. “A diet high in fiber, especially soluble fiber, has been shown to reduce this inflammatory process,” says Sobel. She adds that blackberries and raspberries have eight grams of fiber per cup, while strawberries and blueberries have closer to three or 3.5 grams of fiber per cup.

In addition to antioxidants and fiber, both experts say berries have other vitamins and minerals that are linked to preventing chronic inflammation. The types and amounts of these vitamins and minerals vary slightly depending on the type of berry. Their advice is to change the ones you eat. This way you get a wide range of nutrients.

Related: Nutritionists agree it’s the worst anti-inflammatory snack

How to include more fruit in your diet

If you’re looking to incorporate more fruit into your diet, Sobel says buying fresh or frozen fruit is equally beneficial. The key, she says, is to avoid anything overly processed that contains added sugar, which can be found in some fruit cups, pre-made smoothies or fruit juice. Also, it’s important to know that fruit juice does not contain the beneficial fiber that makes berries so great for preventing inflammation.

There’s certainly no shortage of ways to incorporate berries into your diet. They can of course be eaten as is. Some breakfast ideas that include berries along with other anti-inflammatory foods include oatmeal, smoothies, or Greek yogurt parfaits. For lunch and dinner, berries can add an unexpected burst of sweetness to salads and grain bowls. And of course, there are many dessert recipes that include berries; just be aware of the amount of sugar used to be healthy.

Although eating berries regularly can help prevent inflammation, the two experts stress that it’s not the only food to prioritize, and that eating berries can’t override a diet that’s mostly full of foods , who reason inflammation, such as simple refined carbohydrates, sugar and fried foods.

“Regularly including a variety of different berries in our diets along with a variety of other colorful plant foods, getting enough sleep, moving our bodies, managing stress, maintaining close supportive relationships with others, and addressing any microbiome imbalances everything help reduce inflammation,” says Sobel.

Until then, consider increasing your berry intake as a starting point, not an end all. Through diet and lifestyle, you can work to prevent chronic inflammation, one healthy habit at a time.

Then learn more about the anti-inflammatory diet, including what it is and what you can eat while following it.

Sources

  • Barbara Sobel, MS, CNS, LND, functional medicine nutritionist specializing in digestive, cognitive, and hormonal health

  • Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, Registered Dietitian who leads a team of nutritionists in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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