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The Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Grocery List

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Updated on
The Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Grocery List

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Inflammation is part of the immune response. High levels of inflammation in the body are associated with chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Diet is known to play a role in managing inflammation. Foods that can lower inflammation include fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, legumes, and fish.
  • Foods that can increase inflammation include simple carbohydrates (like white flour and sugar), saturated and trans fats, processed meats, and fried foods. While the occasional food from this group likely won’t have a significant effect, diets high in these foods could increase inflammation. Try to replace these foods with anti-inflammatory options.

Inflammation is an important part of the immune response, but chronic inflammation can lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Every day, you’re exposed to things that can increase levels of inflammation in the body.. This includes your diet.

Certain foods have been found to increase levels of inflammation in the body, while other foods have been shown to reduce it. Read on to learn about what an anti-inflammatory diet is, plus tips for creating an anti-inflammatory grocery list to keep you on track at the store.

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What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a process regulated by the immune system. Acute inflammation occurs in response to injury or infection and is an essential part of our body’s defense mechanisms. However, chronic, low-grade inflammation is associated with many chronic health conditions, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Anti-Inflammatory Grocery List Basic

Studies show that a diet rich in the following foods is associated with lower levels of inflammation:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Herbs and spices.
  • Nuts.
  • Legumes.
  • Fish.

While the definition of an “anti-inflammatory diet” has not been clearly defined, diets such as the Mediterranean Diet and the dietary advice to stop hypertension (DASH) diet are generally considered anti-inflammatory.

The Mediterranean diet includes high intakes of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. It also includes moderate amounts of poultry, fish, and red wine, while limiting red and processed meats. Olive oil is used as the main fat source.

The DASH diet follows similar principles as the Mediterranean diet but also recommends low-fat dairy, low salt intake, and minimal alcohol intake.

Overall, an anti-inflammatory grocery list should be made up of primarily whole, unprocessed foods, with a variety of richly-colored fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein. 

Food Components That Reduce Inflammation

Whole, unprocessed foods contain several components that may be associated with lowering levels of inflammation in the body.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants, which are found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods, can help delay or prevent cell damage by neutralizing harmful free radicals. 

Free radicals are compounds that can damage your cells if their levels become too high. Inflammation can trigger oxidative stress, thought to play a role in several diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Increasing the intake of antioxidant-rich foods could help prevent diseases in which oxidative stress and inflammation play a role. Some common antioxidants found in whole foods include vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids (such as beta-carotene and lycopene). 

Fiber

Many studies show that high-fiber diets reduce the risk of diseases, including inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In particular, soluble fibers, which are readily fermented by gut bacteria, can help reduce inflammation due to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Studies show that SCFAs play an important role in suppressing the inflammatory response.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, as well as in certain seeds such as flax seeds. They help reduce inflammation in the body by preventing the formation of inflammatory molecules.

Foods to Include for Inflammation

Rather than focusing on foods to avoid, it’s best to focus on all the delicious foods you can add to your plate when you’re following an anti-inflammatory diet.

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Protein

A study looking at the relationship between protein intake and markers of inflammation in elderly people found that higher protein intake was associated with lower levels of inflammation. This relationship was strongest when eating plant-based proteins.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up animal protein sources completely. The Mediterranean diet recommends focusing on plant-based proteins, with moderate amounts of fish, poultry and dairy products.

Here are some high-protein, anti-inflammatory foods to include:

  • Black beans.
  • Kidney beans.
  • Chickpeas.
  • Lentils.
  • Tofu.
  • Tempeh.
  • Cottage cheese.
  • Greek yogurt.
  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna.
  • Chicken.
  • Turkey.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are important for giving your body the energy it needs to get through the day. When choosing carbohydrates, try to choose whole-grain options. Whole-grain carbohydrates are higher in fiber, which can help reduce inflammation. 

Here are some carbohydrate-rich foods to include:

  • Whole oats.
  • Whole wheat bread.
  • Whole wheat pasta.
  • Buckwheat.
  • Bulgur wheat (cracked wheat).
  • Farro.
  • Barley.
  • Freekeh.
  • Quinoa.
  • Wild rice.
  • Millet.
  • Amaranth.

Healthy Fats

The best kind of fats for reducing inflammation are unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats. Most of these fats are liquid at room temperature.

Here are some healthy fat sources to include on your anti-inflammatory grocery list:

  • Unsalted nuts, such as almonds and walnuts.
  • Unsalted seeds, such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Chia seeds.
  • Flax seeds.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Avocado oil.
  • Walnut oil.
  • Hemp oil.
  • Flaxseed oil.

Fruits

Brightly-colored fruits are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation. Try to include a variety of different fruits to ensure you’re getting a variety of different polyphenols.

Here are some fruits to include in your anti-inflammatory diet:

  • Strawberries.
  • Blackberries.
  • Cranberries.
  • Blueberries.
  • Apples.
  • Pears.
  • Cherries.
  • Peaches.
  • Apricots.
  • Plums.
  • Grapes.
  • Oranges.
  • Grapefruit.
  • Pomegranates.
  • Avocado.

Vegetables

Just like fruits, brightly-colored vegetables are rich in inflammation-reducing polyphenols. They are also high in fiber.

Here are some vegetables to include in your anti-inflammatory diet:

  • Tomatoes.
  • Leafy greens (such as kale and spinach).
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Broccoli.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Beets.
  • Asparagus.
  • Eggplant.
  • Carrots.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Pumpkin.

Pantry Staples

If you want to get food on the table quickly, keeping pantry staples on hand is a must. Here are some of the best anti-inflammatory pantry staples:

  • Herbs and spices.
  • Turmeric.
  • Ginger.
  • Chili powder.
  • Garlic powder.
  • Black pepper.
  • Oregano.
  • Parsley.
  • Rosemary.
  • Sage.
  • Canned tomatoes.
  • Canned tuna or salmon.
  • Potatoes.
  • Whole wheat pasta.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Canned beans.
  • Rolled oats.

By keeping these staples on hand, you’ll be able to whip up a quick, delicious anti-inflammatory meal, even on busy weeknights.

Foods to Avoid With Inflammation

Studies have shown that a diet consisting of large amounts of the following foods is associated with increased levels of inflammation in the body:

  • Simple carbohydrates (such as white flour and high-sugar foods).
  • Saturated and trans fats.
  • Processed meats.
  • Fried foods.

While these foods have been shown to increase inflammation, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid them completely. Rather, fill your plate with anti-inflammatory foods most of the time while enjoying these other foods in smaller amounts . 

Tips for Grocery Shopping With Inflammatory Conditions

When you’re making the shift to an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. If you’ve been eating large amounts of processed foods for a long time, it can be hard to make the shift to anti-inflammatory eating.

Start slowly by looking at what kinds of foods you can add to your diet. For example, add a brightly colored fruit or vegetable to each of your main meals to increase your antioxidant intake. Gradually work on reducing the amount of processed foods you eat and replace them with anti-inflammatory options.

Takeaway

Inflammation is a normal part of the immune system, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, following an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce levels of inflammation in the body.

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on whole, plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and plant oils. It also includes moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and dairy. When creating your anti-inflammatory grocery list, be sure to include these foods.

Managing Inflammation with Nutrition

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FAQs

What causes inflammation in the stomach?

Inflammation of the stomach, also known as gastritis, occurs when the lining of your stomach becomes inflamed. There are several causes of gastritis, including Helicobacter pylori (a type of bacteria) infection, taking certain types of painkillers (such as ibuprofen and aspirin), drinking too much alcohol, and being under large amounts of stress.

What foods are anti-inflammatory?

Studies show that a diet rich in fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, nuts, legumes, and fish is associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body.

What is the fastest way to get rid of inflammation in the body?

There are many different causes of inflammation, including not getting enough sleep, having excessive levels of stress, and eating foods that can increase inflammation. To combat these causes of inflammation, ensure that you get enough sleep, manage stress and eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, nuts, legumes, and fish. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes inflammation in the stomach?

Inflammation of the stomach, also known as gastritis, occurs when the lining of your stomach becomes inflamed. There are several causes of gastritis, including Helicobacter pylori (a type of bacteria) infection, taking certain types of painkillers (such as ibuprofen and aspirin), drinking too much alcohol, and being under large amounts of stress.

What foods are anti-inflammatory?

Studies show that a diet rich in fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, nuts, legumes, and fish is associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body.

What is the fastest way to get rid of inflammation in the body?

There are many different causes of inflammation, including not getting enough sleep, having excessive levels of stress, and eating foods that can increase inflammation. To combat these causes of inflammation, ensure that you get enough sleep, manage stress and eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, nuts, legumes, and fish.

References

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