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Inflammation and Cholesterol

Foods that Fight Inflammation

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Updated May 17, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Inflammation is a condition that can contribute to plaque formation in the arteries, contributing to or exacerbating heart disease. Fortunately, you can combat inflammation with a healthy diet, by stocking up on the foods below.

Beans

Beans may not only have an anti-inflammatory effect, but are also an excellent source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins. Beans are an easy replacement for meat in tacos, chili, soups and Italian food dishes.

"I encourage clients to include dried beans and peas in their meals, especially the darker beans, which have many health benefits," says Malinda D. Cecil, MS, RD, Instructor and Dietetic Programs Director, University of Maryland Eastern Shore. "Beans are rich in soluble fiber and phytonutrients-they really fill you up and are a source of low-fat protein and are cholesterol free - beans are real super foods," adds Cecil.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are food grains (i.e. barley, bulgur, oats, quinoa and rye) which contain the entire parts and nutrients of their original seed.

"Whole grains will help you to arm your body with a strong defense system against damaging inflammatory-inducing free radicals," states Jessica Butcher, RD dietitian in Grand Haven, Michigan. "As recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans, you can be sure you are enjoying enough of these nutrient powerhouses by filling half of your plate with produce, one-quarter with whole grains, and the final quarter with lean protein."

All Content Below Provided Courtesy of Beth Ellen DiLuglio, MS, RD, Nutrition Educator (Florida)

Fatty Fish

Many patients with high cholesterol know that fish is "good for you," but wonder what is the reason exactly. The omega-3 nutrients eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are to thank for the majority of fish's cardiovascular benefit.

"I recommend preformed EPA and DHA from Omega-3 fat sources such as cold water fish, salmon, mackerel, or sardines," says Beth Ellen DiLuglio, MS, RD, Nutrition Educator (Florida).

Eggs

Eggs may not be the first food you think of to promote cardiovascular health, but in fact there is reason to buy them, specifically those with added Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fat containing eggs are anti-inflammatory, according to DiLuglio. "They must include the yolk as that is where the Omega 3's will be. That's also where you'll find vitamin D, E, and B12."

Spices

Spices are an often-overlooked source of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Adding spices is a quick, no-cook way to improve the nutritional benefit of a meal.

"Turmeric and ginger are two anti-inflammatory spices that can be used in many dishes, salad dressings and sauces," notes DiLuglio.

Foods High in Flavonoids (such as anthocyanins and quercetin)

Flavonoids are compounds found in apples, citrus fruits, onions, soybeans and soy products (i.e. tofu, soy milk, edamame), coffee and tea. These foods may not only inhibit inflammation but possibly tumor growth. They may aid immunity and boost production of detoxifying enzymes in the body according to DiLuglio.

Foods High in Polyphenols

Polyphenols are compounds (such as ellagic acid and resveratrol) found in citrus fruits, apples, whole grains, green tea, grapes, wine, berries, and peanuts. They may not only prevent inflammation, but prevent cancer formation, and work as antioxidants.

Sources:

Personal Interview Melinda Cecil 4/30/11

Personal Interview Jessica Butcher 4/30/11

Personal Interview Beth Ellen DiLuglio 4/30/11

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