Inflammation is a natural response to bodily injury or invasion by pathogens. It’s meant to be a short-term defense, but chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and even certain types of cancer.
In particular, it has been shown that aging is associated with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to age-related diseases.
But there’s an upside: certain foods can help reduce inflammation and slow aging. Here are seven that have been shown to do just that.
- Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens contain vitamin K1 and K2, which are crucial for keeping inflammation under control. They also contain sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS), which helps protect against oxidative stress, DNA damage and cell death caused by free radicals. SGS also encourages healthy cell development while fighting off harmful bacteria in our gut and reducing their ability to trigger inflammation responses in our bodies.
- Berries like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are rich in anthocyanins — powerful anti-inflammatory compounds found in plants that give them their red hue. Anthocyanins have been shown to protect against oxidative stressors that can damage cells and lead to aging-related diseases like cancer and heart disease by neutralizing free radicals.
- Apples contain quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties that helps block COX-2 activity. Apples also contain pectin — a soluble fiber — which may help lower cholesterol levels by binding bile acids in the small intestine so they’re less likely to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain antioxidants called glucosinolates that may help prevent cancer by preventing damage from free radicals in the body. They also have compounds called indoles that act as anti-inflammatory agents by blocking inflammatory enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and 2 (COX-2), which are involved in pain, swelling and redness.