Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables provide natural health benefits. The specific benefits of each can vary (which is why it’s a good idea to have a balanced diet). Did you know that some of the fruit and veg you find in your Good & Fugly boxes each week will be able to help fight inflammation?
It’s true. One of the most effective ways to get rid of the pain of inflammation is to make sure you’re consuming the right fresh produce.
But first – what is inflammation? Inflammation serves as one of the body's defence mechanisms, manifesting in redness, heat, swelling, and pain. To address threats like infections or injuries, your body’s resources are sent to relevant parts of the body. It's a finely tuned process involving various cells and molecules working together. Picture it as an internal repair team swiftly responding to issues as they arise, ensuring the restoration of normal function and promoting overall health.
As essential as the process is for protecting the body, however, inflammation can also cause a lot of discomfort and pain. It’s for these reasons that you want to be able to have your body get the repairs done and then pack up as quickly as possible.
So, what exactly is it about certain foods that helps fight inflammation? It comes down to a natural compound produced by plants called phytonutrients. These exist to keep plants healthy by protecting them from threats such as insects and the sun. When us humans eat foods that naturally contain any of the sounds of various phytonutrients, we benefit from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. That includes plant-based foods such as whole grains, tea, nuts, beans, spices and as we’ll be looking at today – fruit and vegetables.
From antioxidant-bursting berries to nutrient-filled leafy greens, this is your guide to delicious, anti-inflammatory goodness!
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are not just delicious, they’re a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory benefits! Berries contain numerous phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, resveratrol, and ellagic acid, which have anti-inflammatory effects. These natural properties may explain why studies have linked increased berry consumption to having a lower risk of heart disease, Aalzheimer’s disease and diabetes. To look at a specific example of this, strawberries have been found to lower levels of certain inflammatory markers that are associated with heart disease. Better yet, berries are packed with fibre and vitamin C, so don’t hesitate to fill up a bowl with your favourites!
Cherries, peaches, plums, pomegranate, and apricots are all stone fruits that have anti-inflammatory benefits arising from their abundance of various phytonutrients as well as potassium, vitamin C, fibre. Very interestingly, there have been studies that suggest that cherries can reduce pain and soreness after exercise – so it might not be a bad idea to pair a handful of cherries with your protein shake! They’ve also been linked with a reduced risk of gout attacks. This anti-inflammatory power is attributed to cherries’ high levels of phenolic compounds. Similarly, peaches have the same kind of compounds that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals and may reduce your risk of illnesses such as neurodegenerative conditions and heart disease.
Oranges, a citrus fruit known for their vibrant colour and refreshing taste, are also champions in the fight against inflammation. Citrus fruits are rich in flavonoids like hesperidin and naringenin, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. These phytonutrients, along with vitamin C, work together to combat inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that regular consumption of oranges can help reduce inflammation markers, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. One orange a day, which contains twice your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, can provide you with their anti-inflammatory benefits. So, next time you’re looking for a sweet snack, reach for an orange!
Onto veggies… Tomatoes, a kitchen staple, are more than just a tasty ingredient. The secret of their rich anti-inflammatory benefits lies in their nutrient profile, which includes lycopene, beta carotene, and vitamin C. These antioxidants work together to combat inflammation in the body. For instance, lycopene, a carotenoid that also serves as a precursor to Vitamin A, is known for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a key player in warding off chronic degenerative and inflammatory conditions. Plus, tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, fibre, beta carotene, and lycopene, making them a great addition to any meal!
Broccoli, a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, is a nutritional powerhouse that also boasts anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants that work together to reduce inflammation, stabilise blood sugar, and boost the immune system. One standout compound in broccoli is glucoraphanin, which transforms into a powerful antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion. This compound has anti-inflammatory effects that may help prevent illnesses like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. And let’s not forget, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, making it a perfect side dish for your meals!
Leafy greens, including spinach, kale, and collard greens, are nutrient powerhouses that pack a punch when it comes to fighting inflammation. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including kaempferol, a flavonoid that has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Regular consumption of leafy greens can help reduce inflammation in the body, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It is recommended that adults eat five servings of vegetables per day… So, make sure to include a generous serving of these greens in your meals for a healthful, anti-inflammatory boost!
So if you’re looking to reduce chronic inflammation, consider how you can include more fruit and veggies in your diet! After all, nature is full of ways to boost your body’s health. You can find the fruit & veggies mentioned in this article in a Good & Fugly box – the health & sustainability solution that’s good for you, good for farmers and good for the planet!
Remember, this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not serve as medical advice. If you have health concerns, including inflammation, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider.