I recently read an article about healthy foods you can find at the grocery store. Scientists and nutritionists have determined there are seven foods that keep down inflammation in your body. (Inflammation is your body’s healthy response to fighting disease. When it gets out of hand, inflammation can become chronic and lead to a variety of health problems, from cancer to autoimmune diseases.)
What you eat can be as important as what you don’t eat. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat may contribute to inflammation, and I can definitely feel the inflammation as I read this.
Here are the seven foods you might want to incorporate into your diet:
* Mackerel. This fish is a Mediterranean staple. The high fat in this fish helps fight diseases caused by high inflammation, like heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Mackerel is also a source of vitamins B12 and D (the latter of which can be hard to find naturally in foods). Vitamin D is important for maintaining strong bones and immune-system function as well as helping the body absorb calcium. You can roast a fillet with a generous helping of herbs, olive oil and lemon.
* Spinach: Spinach has a reputation as a power food. It’s a good source of vitamin E, which may help protect the body from inflammation. As with other leafy greens, the dark color lets you know that it’s dense in nutrients. Make a spinach salad with a high-fat food like avocado in order to take full advantage of the veggie’s nutrients.
* Pears: Eating these high-fiber foods can be helpful to those with diabetes and arthritis. Fiber-rich diets contribute to a healthy microbiome and promote satiety—which is helpful when you’re trying to lose weight. You can make a simple meal by adding sliced pears to a salad with walnuts and a soft cheese.
* Bell peppers: These peppers, especially the bright red ones, are high in antioxidants and low in starch. Similar to spicy peppers, sweet bell peppers contain the chemical compound capsaicin, which is also known to help inflammation and potentially even pain. Chop up bell peppers and serve them with hummus, or drizzle with a little red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
* Black tea: Green tea usually gets all the attention, yet black tea (which comes from the same plant) also has benefits. Drinking black tea may help keep arteries open, and it contains antioxidants that are known to protect cells from damage. One recent study links black tea to a substantially lower risk of ovarian cancer. Brew a cup of black tea and add milk or honey (or both) for a hot drink. Or you could chill the cup and mix with fresh lemon and pomegranate juice for a refreshing cold beverage.
* Pomegranate seeds: These seeds are a good source of antioxidants that can lower both cholesterol and blood pressure. Experts think that a compound in them (punicalagin) targets inflammation in the brain, which could help slow brain-related decline.
* Buckwheat: Eating grains may reduce blood levels of a marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein. Buckwheat is also gluten-free and good for people with celiac disease. Buckwheat is used to make soba noodles, which you can use in soups or stir fry dishes. You can also buy the grain on its own to eat in place of rice.
Leslie and I were just talking about buckwheat or, as we called it growing up, kasha. My mother would always make kasha varnishkes (“varnishkes” means bow tie noodles) as a side dish for her delicious pot roast. And we’ve done the same over the years, but lately I never think to buy a pot roast. So next week, we’re going to make this dish pictured above. It’s delicious and, according to my research, very healthy for you. Minus the varnishkes.