The 6 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Diet

Combat inflammation the natural way.

The term "inflammation" might sound scary, but it's a completely normal biological response. In fact, inflammation is essential for staying healthy. However, not all inflammation is good for your body—which is why eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods is so important.

Here's a quick explainer: Inflammation happens when your immune system responds to tissue damage, like injuries or infections, says registered dietitian Maddie Pasquariello. It triggers a cascade of cellular responses, which work to heal wounds and fight germs. This process also causes symptoms like swelling and pain, which signal to you that something is amiss, says Pasquariello. This type of inflammation is temporary or "acute"—but when it becomes chronic or severe, it can contribute to conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, says Pasquariello.

Healthy foods such as salmon, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds like walnut, almonds, pecan, hazelnuts, pistachio and pumpkin seeds.

There's where lifestyle habits, such as diet, come in. In addition to staying active, managing stress, and limiting alcohol, eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help manage inflammation and potentially reduce the risk of chronic disease. Generally, this involves eating foods high in antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and unsaturated (or "good") fats. But which foods check these boxes? Ahead, discover the best foods for reducing inflammation, according to registered dietitians.


Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are teeming with anthocyanins, or plant pigments that give fruits and vegetables their purple-red color. According to Pasquariello, these anthocyanins can reduce inflammatory molecules, thus managing inflammation. "Anthocyanins are also antioxidants, helping to scavenge for free radicals. [This also lowers the risk of] chronic diseases that can produce inflammation," says Pasquariello. Additionally, berries contain noteworthy levels of vitamin C, another nutrient with anti-inflammatory actions.

Fatty Fish

Inflammation is no match against fatty fish, from briny sardines to buttery salmon. The lean protein contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have an inflammation-lowering effect on the body, says Pasquariello. Omega-3 fats can even change the composition of cell membranes and prevent pro-inflammatory mechanisms from being activated in the first place, she adds. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish per week, which you can easily do with tasty dishes like salmon patty wraps.

Olive oil and olive branches
Johnny Miller

Olive Oil

In case you need another reason to drizzle olive oil on your next salad or sandwich, the ingredient is particularly helpful in quelling inflammation. "Olive oil has many anti-inflammatory components, but the most well-known are omega-3 fatty acids," says Amy S. Moyer, M.Ed., RDN, LDN, CCMS, registered dietitian and assistant professor at University North Carolina at Greensboro. Olive oil also contains polyphenols, plant compounds with anti-inflammatory properties.


Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory ingredient that deserves a shout-out. This is due to curcumin, the main component in the spice. Not only does curcumin give turmeric its iconic yellow color, but it offers potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well. "However, curcumin has poor availability, meaning it's poorly absorbed and quickly metabolized and excreted from the body," says Moyer. "Fortunately, combining curcumin with black pepper resolves the problem, [as it significantly increases] the bioavailability of curcumin in the body."

With that in mind, be sure to add a bit of black pepper to your next golden latte or turmeric-infused soup to get the most out of the spice.

sliced avocados on cutting board
Chris Simpson


Whether you prefer avocado spread on toast, mashed into guacamole, or blended in a smoothie, eating the creamy fruit will help manage inflammation. According to Pasquariello, avocados are rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, "avocados are a good source of vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory properties," says Moyer. The best part? Avocado oil offers these same benefits, giving you another way to reap the food's inflammation-busting benefits. Try using it in homemade vinaigrettes or high-heat cooking methods, such as roasting.


"Nuts contain many micronutrients—like proanthocyanidins, flavonoids, and stilbenes—as well as omega-3 fatty acids, all of which can help reduce inflammation," says Pasquariello. They also provide phytosterols, which may work against some of the body's inflammatory pathways. "Almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts are especially high in these [phytosterols]," says Pasquariello. To take advantage of these anti-inflammatory nutrients, try tossing a few nuts into your next snack or salad, or use nuts to coat your go-to protein.

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