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18 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat to Reduce Pain

Fill up on these nutritious whole foods to nourish your body, stop pain, and ease painful inflammation.

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Olive oil

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a chemical in extra-virgin olive oil, oleocanthal, inhibits inflammatory enzymes in the same way that ibuprofen does. Drizzle olive oil on veggies, salads, and other foods that reduce inflammation.

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Beautiful texture slices of pineapple

Pineapple

Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme, makes this tropical fruit one of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods. Studies show that eating pineapple may reduce pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and lower swelling in people with carpal tunnel syndrome. Research shows pineapple can also help with digestion.

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Closeup to Pink Apples

Apples

These popular fruits are just one of the many foods that reduce inflammation because they contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant.  No wonder one a day keeps the doctor away.

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Nuts and seeds


Various nuts and seeds have a good amount of magnesium, l-arginine and vitamin E, which may play a role in keeping inflammation under control. The ideal option is the raw, unsalted nuts. The Arthritis Foundation National Office specifically recommends walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, flax seed, and chia seeds, too.

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Food background - Brassica oleracea or kale juicy leaves at the Farmer's market

Green, leafy vegetables


Vegetables, like kale, chard, bok choy, and silverbeet are anti-inflammatory foods because they’re packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids. These plant pigments give green and orange produce their vibrant color and thus make them great foods that reduce inflammation.

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Dark chocolate


Yes, you read that correctly. Dark chocolate contains chemicals and anti-oxidants that help fight inflammation. According to a large Italian study, people who ate about one square of dark chocolate every three days had significantly lower measures of a protein associated with inflammation than those who ate no chocolate at all. At least 70 percent dark chocolate is best. Here’s more on the health and wellness benefits of cacao.

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Brown rice background texture

Brown rice


Brown rice and other whole grains high in fiber can help fight inflammation. Fiber is known to lower c-reactive protein, a substance found in the blood produced by the liver in response to inflammation, Healthline reports. Pair this rice with some other foods that reduce inflammation for a meal with a nutritious punch.

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Close up of the fresh green grapes.

Grapes


Chomp on some grapes or mulberries or sip wine (yes!) for a dose of resveratrol, which inhibits inflammatory enzymes in much the same way aspirin does (but without the stomach irritation). Grapes also have anthocyanins which reduce inflammation, too. These are the proven benefits of intermittent fasting.

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Cherries


Cherries contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which give berries their blue and red colors and fight inflammation in the same way aspirin does, according to research. These 6 berries are the most underrated superfood.

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Onions and garlic


Foods that reduce inflammation like this family of bulb vegetables are high in anti-inflammatory substances, as well as sulfur compounds, that help stimulate the immune system to keep everything running smoothly.

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Green and black tea


Tea is rich in antioxidants or flavonoids, which may protect against cell damage that can worsen conditions such as arthritis. Research shows it also contains a chemical that fights inflammation, so consider swapping that morning cup of joe for a green tea instead. These are the best expert suggestions for relieving joint pain.

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Broccoli in a pile on a market

Broccoli


This vegetable contains vitamins C and K, folate, fiber, and antioxidants. Broccoli, high in sulforaphanefights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines, research shows. Other fruits and vegetables rich in sulforaphane, or foods that reduce inflammation, include kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and more. Here are some healthy foods high in magnesium.

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Fish


Oily fish such as salmon, trout, and anchovies, along with walnuts, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and canola oil contain omega-3 fatty acids that make them powerful anti-inflammatory foods. A University of Pittsburgh study found that people with back and neck pain who took omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form for three months had less pain overall. Eat fatty fish at least twice a week and consider taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement to fight pain. Here’s what everyone gets wrong about the keto diet.

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Soy pods

Soy protein


Researchers at Oklahoma State University found that people with osteoarthritis, especially men, who ate 40 grams of soy protein per day for three months had less pain and moved more easily than those who didn’t. Other research also shows that soy food consumption is related to lowering inflammation in women, too. It’s tough to eat that much pure soy protein a day unless you add soy protein powder to shake or smoothie, but it is still worth adding a serving of soya beans, tofu, or soy milk to your daily food intake. Here are some easy ways to up the protein in your next smoothie.

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Mushrooms mushrooms for cooking tasty food.

Mushrooms


Mushrooms have a variety of compounds that help fight inflammation, specifically phenols and other anti-oxidants, research shows. A special mushroom type, lion’s mane, may also have some inflammation-fighting benefits, too.

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Sauerkraut


Gut health has links with inflammation, so it’s important to consume fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. The health benefits of fermented foods go well beyond inflammation, too. Research also shows they could help lower blood pressure, although more research is still necessary on the topic. 

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Bunch of green Avocados. One of them is opened that the stone and the pulp are visible.

Avocados


Although the perfect ripeness window is small with this fruit, it’s worth gambling your money on this avocados since they contain many nutrients. Compounds like carotenoids and tocopherols in avocados, among others, protect against inflammation and could also reduce your risk of cancer, research shows.

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Beans


Some anti-inflammatory diets claim beans aren’t good for fighting inflammation. However, research shows that they are high in magnesium which is a strong anti-inflammatory, according to U.S. News & World Report. According to the Arthritis Foundation, beans could lower an indicator of inflammation found in the blood making them one of the foods that reduce inflammation. The best beans for fighting inflammation include small red beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans. Next, find out 30 healthy foods that will keep you regular.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest