The only thing better than enjoying summer’s bounty of mouth-watering fruits and veggies is knowing that they will also help you fight inflammation! Carolyn Williams, author of MEALS THAT HEAL as well as a registered dietitian and culinary nutrition expert, reveals the 7 best anti-inflammatory foods of the season.
From sweet berries to ripe tomatoes, summer produce is hard to beat when it comes to flavor and color. Another perk is that summer fruit and veggies are also packed full of anti-inflammatory nutrients and compounds.
Reducing inflammation in the body through diet and lifestyle is key since inflammation is at the root of most every chronic condition in America, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, autoimmune conditions, arthritis and joint pain. And choosing more anti-inflammatory foods is one of the easiest ways to not only stay healthy, but also to reverse disease, ease current ailments, and slow the aging process.
Summer produce makes it easy to fill your plate (and cup) with delicious anti-inflammatory foods! Here are 7 of the top foods to enjoy right now.
Both sweet and tart varieties lower inflammatory blood proteins, and cherries may even offer pain relief comparable to ibuprofen. In fact, the Arthritis Foundations suggests eating cherries as a way to ease joint issues related to arthritis and gout.
Summer’s favorite red berry is loaded with anthocyanins and antioxidants called ellagitannins, both powerful compounds that sweep up free radicals and suppress anti-inflammatory proteins in the body. Strawberries, as well as blueberries and others, are also packed with fiber which reduces cholesterol and slows the digestive process to help keep blood sugar in check.
Iced Green Tea
A glass or two a day of this antioxidant-rich beverage is one of the best ways to keep the brain hydrated thanks to compounds called catechins. Not only do catechins prevent free radical damage, but research suggests they may also block plaque formation that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Benefits come from drinking it hot or cold, so I like to drink mine chilled and over ice in the summer.
They’re packed full of potassium, folate, and vitamin C, but it’s the tomato’s content of the phytochemical lycopene that propels tomatoes to the next level nutritionally. Studies show lycopene reduces and suppresses inflammation, lowering the risk of some cancers – particularly prostate – and heart disease.
Baby spinach and leafy greens
Leafy greens have some of the strongest research-backed health benefits when it comes to reducing inflammation to reduce risks of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Aim to get at least six cups a week, and my Berry Green Smoothie below is a tasty way to get a few greens in at breakfast or snack.
Extra-virgin olive oil
While it doesn’t technically have a season, I find myself using EVOO even more than usual in the warmer months on tomatoes, salads, and other fresh summer veggies. The pantry staple delivers the inflammation-suppressing compound oleocanthal, plus a small amount omega-3s, and research associates olive oil with a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and joint issues.
This creamy fruit soothes inflammation thanks to monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Plus, avocado may even counteract inflammatory foods like red meat which contain saturated fat. In one study, people who topped their hamburger with avocado had lower inflammatory markers than those who just ate the burger.
Berry Green Smoothie Recipe
HANDS-ON: 5 MIN. // TOTAL: 5 MIN. // SERVES 1
Incorporating a protein source in your smoothie will help keep you fueled all morning. To prepare a dairy-free version, make sure to choose a soy yogurt, which has comparable protein to Greek yogurt, or a plant-based yogurt like almond or flax with at least 5g of protein per serving.
- 1 cup frozen wild blueberries or fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries or a mix of berries)
- ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 (5.3-ounce) container plain 2% Greek yogurt or plain soy yogurt
- 1 medium ripe banana, sliced
Place the berries, spinach, orange juice, water, yogurt, and banana in a blender; blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
(SERVING SIZE: ABOUT 13⁄4 CUPS): CALORIES 297; FAT 4G (SAT 2G, UNSAT 2G); PROTEIN 18G; CARB 54G; FIBER 8G; SUGARS 33G (ADDED SUGARS 0G); SODIUM 75MG; CALC 23% DV; POTASSIUM 20% DV
For more healthy food advice, check out MEALS THAT HEAL by Carolyn Williams!
You might also enjoy this air-fryer recipe: Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, is a registered dietitian and culinary nutrition expert known for her ability to simplify the concept of healthy eating. She serves as a contributing editor for Cooking Light and Real Simple and won a James Beard Award for her 2016 article “Brain Health.” She also develops content for a variety of media outlets and lifestyle brands such as Real Simple, Parents, Rally Health, Eating Well, eMeals, and Health. Other work includes nutrient analysis, recipe development, and writing, including her newest cookbook Meals That Heal which focuses on using the healing aspects of food with a quick, easy and practical approach. Carolyn is also a tenured faculty member at a local college teaching culinary arts and nutrition classes.
Recipe excerpted from Meals That Heal by Carolyn Williams. Copyright © 2019 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.