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7 Lunch Foods That Help Reduce Inflammation, Say Experts

October 19, 2023

Inflammation is a natural response of the body to protect itself from injury or infection. It is an essential part of the immune system’s defense mechanism. Acute inflammation occurs when the body is fighting off a specific threat, such as an infection or injury, and is typically short-lived. However, chronic inflammation is a persistent and long-term condition that can be detrimental to our health.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. It can damage tissues and organs over time, leading to the development and progression of these conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to manage and reduce chronic inflammation in the body.

Certain foods can either help or worsen chronic inflammation. A diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats can contribute to inflammation, while a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce it. Stock up on these lunch foods that can help reduce inflammation next time you’re out on a grocery run!

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1. Leafy greens

leafy green salad with veggies


Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are nutritional powerhouses that can aid in reducing inflammation. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin C, and magnesium. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate the body’s inflammatory response. Additionally, leafy greens are high in fiber, which promotes a healthy gut microbiome and reduces inflammation in the digestive system.

2. Fatty fish

salmon meal prep container with quinoa and broccoli


Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been extensively studied for their anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the production of inflammatory molecules in the body and help balance the immune response. Regular consumption of fatty fish has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Related: 6 Fatty Fish Recipes To Get More Omega-3’s in Your Diet

3. Turmeric

person holding small bowl of ground turmeric to add in a recipe


Turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice commonly used in curries and has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. Its active compound, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin inhibits the activity of various molecules involved in inflammation, providing relief to individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Including turmeric in your lunch recipes can be a flavorful way to reduce inflammation in the body.

4. Berries

berries in a bowl with granola for breakfast


Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are not only delicious but also packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants, including anthocyanins and vitamin C, help combat inflammation by neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body. Berries are also rich in fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system and reduces inflammation in the gut. Adding a handful of berries to your lunch or enjoying them as a snack can be a tasty way to fight inflammation.

5. Extra virgin olive oil

man drizzling olive oil onto a salad


Extra virgin olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is known for its numerous health benefits. It contains a compound called oleocanthal, which has been shown to have similar anti-inflammatory effects as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Incorporating extra virgin olive oil into your lunch can help reduce inflammation in the body. However, it’s important to use it in moderation, as it is high in calories.

Related: 8 No-Cook Mediterranean Diet Lunch Ideas

6. Nuts and seeds

walnut trail mix in bowls


Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also abundant sources of antioxidants. The omega-3 fatty acids present in nuts and seeds, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), have anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming a variety of nuts and seeds can help reduce inflammation and provide additional health benefits, such as supporting heart health and improving brain function.

7. Whole grains

peanut butter toast with fruit on top


Whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, are unrefined grains that retain their bran, germ, and endosperm. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The fiber in whole grains promotes a healthy gut microbiome and reduces inflammation in the digestive system. Additionally, whole grains contain phytochemicals, such as lignans, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Including whole grains in your lunch can support a healthy inflammatory response in the body and reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with inflammation.

Read next: 7 Healthy Brown Rice Recipes to Use Up This Pantry Staple

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