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This Anti-Inflammatory Foods List PDF shares which foods will help most people to overcome inflammation and improve general health, as well as specific symptoms. For some of you, these dietary choices are the first important step forward to taking charge of your health! The good news is: It doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, this Yes list allows you to focus on what you CAN have, instead of what you can’t.
But, get ready to give up some old favorites: perhaps it’s alcohol, soda, sugar, chocolate or processed foods. Perhaps it’s eating out at restaurants often (where they almost always use vegetable oil).
Get ready to go the grocery store! Load up on great quality meats, veggies, grains and more, so you can feel satisfied, and your body can begin restoring you to your best health.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet
One nice thing about an anti-inflammatory diet is that it’s not one exacting diet — that someone is trying to push on you. It’s an overarching insight on specific foods, that usually don’t cause inflammation — allowing the body to recover from symptoms and sometimes deeper conditions.
You’ll figure out your best version of the diet for your body.
Lasting inflammation occurs when the immune system releases inflammatory cells — even though the body is not injured or knowingly sick. Chronic inflammation accompanies many diseases, including autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but also Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Different kinds of inflammation exist: ranging from swelling that results from surgery to inflammation from food intake. Even a bloated stomach is a form of inflammation.
Foods that reduce inflammation are called anti-inflammatory foods.
Is a Mediterranean diet the same as the anti-inflammatory diet
Many similarities exist between these two diets.
But four main differences exist, because today’s best anti-inflammatory diet is updated for a modern world, with a newer understanding of modern toxins than the traditional Mediterranean diet:
- Today’s anti-inflammatory diet includes less fish, because hair mineral tests show patients with high mercury levels when fish is included in one’s diet on a regular basis. Mercury levels in the body affect cognitive function and cardiovascular health, among other things.
- In contrast to the well known Mediterranean food diet pyramid, the modern anti-inflammatory diet includes more grass-finished beef and pasture-raised meats, instead of assuming all meat is inflammatory. We now understand that how meat is raised affects its healthfulness, and humans do well with clean-sourced protein: protein helps to build new healthy tissue, and it even helps the body detox.
- The Mediterranean diet does not emphasize organic produce, but that part of the world oftentimes does grow their produce using fewer pesticides and herbicides. In America, we often forget this, and just buy conventional. However, we now know that the poison used in these agricultural tools, glyphosate, impedes detox pathways. So for the best anti-inflammatory diet, choose foods grown organically or with similar sustainable values. (Important: Don’t fall for the Non-GMO label! This is a common marketing trick and does NOT mean the product was grown organically.)
- Lastly, while green lettuces and some vegetables are healthy and provide good fiber, vegetables that are high in vitamin A cause chronic vitamin toxicity over time. We avoid vegetables like kale and sweet potatoes, and focus instead on peeled vegetables and fruits like cucumbers and apples.
Many commonalities still exist between the two diets: the elimination of processed foods, vegetable oils, refined sugars, and the inclusion of high-fiber gentle grains like oats, sourdough bread and brown rice. Less fat and less sodium — but instead of reducing sodium or choosing a pink or colored salt, the best choice is subbing some of the sodium for potassium, the other trace mineral we need a lot of. Here’s how to make your own sodium-potassium salt.
What makes this list better than others
With this list, you get a working knowledge of all the most open-minded anti-inflammatory diets: from the best medical websites to Paleo models like the AIP diet.
We dig deeper for you, so you don’t have big food groups recommended that overlook important details. For example, some lists recommend all nuts and seeds. This list keeps in mind estrogens, lectins and other food compounds that make certain nuts and seeds inflammatory.
We also don’t parrot other lists. We look at the most current and insightful studies to assess new factors revealing which foods cause inflammation.
Of course, please consult your doctor to know what’s best for your unique body. Or see my personal doctor’s information at the bottom of this post, if you’re looking to connect with a new practitioner.
This Anti-inflammatory foods list PDF provides the basic anti-inflammatory food list. But, it does not take into account all food compounds that can cause inflammation, as that would make the list too small! So if you find you’re curious or still struggling with symptoms, also consider these food categories (with FREE PRINTABLE FOOD LISTS) that are problematic for some people:
- Low Oxalate and Low Salicylate Food List
- Food List for Low Histamine and Low Oxalate
- Low FODMAP foods lists here, here and here (based on other dietary restrictions)
- Combined Low Histamine and Lectin-free (or Low Lectin)
- Estrogenic Foods
Anti-Inflammatory Foods List PDF PRINTABLE
Print the Anti-Inflammatory Foods List PDF here.
Or to read explanations about some of these foods, read on.
If you have questions about why certain foods are Yes or No foods, or other related questions, like: are grains okay to eat?, please feel free to ask in the Comments section below the post.
Yes Anti-Inflammatory Foods (EAT THESE):
Be sure to buy organic for this diet, as much as you can. Otherwise, the residue from pesticides impedes detox pathways.
Everyone is different: food sensitivities and intolerances
Everyone is different, and food intolerances do exist which create exceptions to the rules of which foods are safe and which foods are not.
So, it’s very important in this process to listen to your body. If you notice that one of the Yes foods causes you symptoms, it may not be a healthy food for you. Back off, and focus on other foods instead.
Feel free to ask questions in the Comments section below, or consult a doctor when you’re unsure.
For most people, you can feel safe to eat plenty of these Yes foods:
NOTE: With meats, avoid high heat cooking, such as grilling or frying.
- grass finished beef
- any other wild red meat/game: buffalo, elk, venison, game birds (although avoid high fat, as is the case with duck)
- gelatin (here) and collagen (here) — Choose 3rd party tested and pesticide-free, grass-finished (like those linked to). Use discount code BEAUTIFUL10 at checkout for 10% off your entire order.) Avoid companies like Vital Proteins that are owned by Nestle.
- oats: overnight oats, oatmeal — Not everyone will want to include grains when they first begin this diet. Choose what’s right for you, and try adding them in later, if you’d like. Others will be fine including oats right away.
- beans: black, kidney, chickpeas, hummus etc. (avoid soy) — Not everyone tolerates beans well. See if your body does well with certain types of beans or smaller amounts, if you find they give you gas.
- brown rice — Sprouted brown rice is even gentler, and for some people white Basmati rice or rice pastas work best. Don’t overdo white rice, as it can cause a Vitamin B1 deficiency, or consider supplementing to compensate.
- sourdough bread — Look for ones with only a few ingredients, no “reduced iron” etc. added into the flour; okay for some; others may not tolerate any bread with gluten or grains.
- hulled barley
- certain peeled produce items: apples, cucumbers, zucchini, parsnips, white carrots
- gentle green veggies: asparagus, green beans, artichokes, celery
- lettuces: butter lettuce, romaine lettuce and iceberg (if you can find organic)
- pasta made from Italian wheat or brown rice, like Jovial brand here
- white masa — This ingredient is a staple in our house. I use it daily.
- mint, rosemary, dill, ginger, cumin, white sea salt
Note: Plenty of fiber is ideal, so daily oats and beans is great. Plenty of protein is also ideal, so a good amount of clean meat with every meal (for most people).
Only some people can tolerate these
Many people on an anti-inflammatory diet need to avoid all nightshades (foods like potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes) and foods high in lectins (foods like corn and beans). But, some people can eat these foods, avoid other inflammatory foods, and not have a problem. When in doubt, avoid the following two foods. But if you think you’re okay with them, they may be safe staples:
- peeled white potatoes (unless joint pain happens) — Potatoes are a nightshade, so they actually cause inflammation for some people. Be very careful with this choice. Sometimes it will seem fine, but if you keep eating it, symptoms will develop; in which case, avoid it altogether. (Joint pain is a common symptom from eating potatoes.)
- white corn (unless the lectins bother you) — Skin issues are common for those sensitive to lectins, including internal skin, so IBS or digestion issues.
Yes drinks — anti-inflammatory beverages
- apple cider vinegar in water — This drink can also help a lot with digestion of meals.
- asparagus tea (find it here) — This is pricey, but asparagus and its tea can be beneficial for detox, and the flavor of this tea has a nice quality. This product actually sells out really fast because it’s popular and hard to find. Some find it especially helpful for chronic pain, swelling, kidney health and blood sugar issues. (Does not taste like asparagus. A little like mushroom tea.) One cup a day is the dose recommended.
- dandelion root tea
- ginger tea
- mint tea
- (Homemade) Macadamia Nut Milk — or other homemade milks made from allowed foods, such as Bean Milk, or homemade oat milk
- water with fresh lemon or lime juice added
MODEST AMOUNTS OF THESE FOODS:
- for some: nuts and seeds, including chestnuts (except avoid: cashews, pistachios, peanuts and flax seeds) — Eat nuts and seeds in moderation, because most contain a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, so can lead to inflammation over time. For this reason, I most recommend organic macadamia nuts (here) because they’re higher in monounsaturated fats and Brazil nuts, because they’re a good source of selenium ([here] eat 3 to 5 daily).
- lemon and lime juices (no rind)
- coconut aminos – good for making stir fries, soups etc.
- fresh and dried ginger
- bamboo shoots
- quinoa, for some — I find this less often tolerated, so it may or may not be a good choice for you.
- spelt and einkorn made into sourdough, if tolerated
- buckwheat, for some — This pseudograin is high in copper and oxalates, and many people are copper toxic these days or dealing with oxalate issues, so watch for symptoms, and eat this food in moderation if you include it.
SMALL AMOUNTS OF:
- butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, refined coconut oil
- natural sweeteners: maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar
- eggs, if tolerated
- heavy cream, if tolerated
- garlic and other herbs not listed above
- white fish, wild and “clean” — Too much fish may cause unsafe mercury levels in the body, so limit this.
- lamb — While lamb is perfectly safe for many, and excellent because it’s grass-finished, its high fat content, and specifically stearic acid content, may be problematic for the liver and general detox. So this one can be navigated individually, but better to start with less.
- tapioca and tapioca flour, arrowroot
- baking ingredients: carob, psyllium husk, baking soda
COMPLETELY AVOID these inflammatory foods
Some of the following foods may be listed as healthy and anti-inflammation foods on other lists.
Where we disagree is based on newer research on vitamin A, which can behave like a toxin in the body when too much is eaten. (Read more on this topic here.) For this reason, I find it best to avoid high vitamin A foods on an anti-inflammatory diet. I was amazed at the results I saw in just two days from eliminating these foods, and this is common in low A detox groups.
Include these foods if you prefer, but deeper wellness and more noticeable improvements may result from omitting them. And starting a new diet is a great time to make big strides.
- foods high in vitamin A: sweet potatoes, kale, spinach and similar, bell peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce
- grapefruit, mango, papaya, many other very brightly colored foods, spicy spices
- foods high in copper: chocolate, shellfish esp. oysters, shiitake mushrooms
- salmon, tuna
- pork, lard
- vegetable oil — This includes all breads made with vegetable oils.
- white sugar
- processed foods
- most restaurant foods — Ask and see if your restaurant can cook your food in olive oil or butter (if it agrees with you).
- coffee, caffeine — A small amount of coffee can be included in the beginning if you feel you need it. Then consider reducing or eliminating it over time.
- fermented, smoked and aged foods: alcohol, kombucha, smoked meats, yogurt, sauerkraut
- sulfuric veggies: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions — Many anti-inflammatory diets will include these vegetables. Sulfuric foods are controversial. I found that the research I agreed with proved to be true in my own life, which is that sulfuric foods actually complicate the detox process. Additionally, sulfuric foods deplete Vitamin B1, which can cause a variety of health issues, including histamine issues. Consider omitting them to get the maximum benefits from your time on this diet.
- any non-dairy milks or other products that have vitamins D or A added to them
- all breads, even sourdoughs, that contain fortified flours (with ingredients that include reduced iron, folic acid etc.)
Note: If you need a good non-dairy milk for oatmeal etc, look for Malk brand or Three Trees (except their product with flax), both super clean and good.
Tips and recipes with anti-inflammatory foods
The ultimate goal of this diet is to eliminate all inflammatory foods, and to feel great! To do that, we need to inspire! What do meals look like? Here are some tips and recipes:
- For breakfast: Make oatmeal or overnight oats more often; I eat it everyday! Experiment with no sweetener on it, or very little. Have a little protein on the side: one egg or a homemade meat patty.
- At lunch: Eat a salad with green lettuces, or make lettuce wraps, both with: peeled cucumbers, hummus and leftover protein from a recent dinner.
- For dinners: Make more stir fries, using coconut aminos and fresh ginger. Serve with brown rice or another grain on the Yes list that you tolerate well. Make simple soups with great quality Meat Stock.
- Don’t over-complicate this: Yes, you can have a steak, salad and baked potato for dinner! If potatoes don’t agree with you, sub with rice. Yes, you can have a big roasted chicken, sauteed green beans and homemade rolls for dinner! Enjoy meat, carbs and veggies. Use condiments like coconut aminos or homemade applesauce. Enjoy simple homemade healthy foods.
- Homemade Easy Oat Bread
- Oats Smoothie
- Anti-Inflammatory Ginger Chicken Soup
- One-Pan Ground Beef and Carrots
- Paleo Chicken Tetrazzini Soup
- Paleo Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Split Pea Soup with Chicken and Ginger
- Boneless Leg of Lamb Roast
- Easy Egg-free Caesar Salad (Anti-Inflammatory) – Top with chicken for a main dish.
- Meat Stock from Ground Beef or Fastest Meat Stock from Chicken
- Maple Balsamic Salad Dressing
- 5-Ingredient Chicken Stir Fry
- Crispy Beef from Stew Meat
- Marinated Asparagus Salad
- Chickpea Polenta
- Buckwheat Porridge (don’t overdo, not for all)
- Meal Prep Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs
- Thai Beef Drunken Noodles
- Zucchini Ginger Bisque Soup
- Nightshade-free Tamales
- Masa Waffles
- Hot Carob Drink
Helpful, gentle supplements to consider
- Activated charcoal — Consider 1 capsule daily with breakfast to grab hold of and usher out toxins.
- Sunlight in the summer, Sun lamp (I have the Fiji model and love it, highly recommend) or Tanning beds (how to use them safely) in the darker, colder months
Supplements you may wish to reconsider
The following supplements slow down the liver detox process.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D orally — Consider light instead (see recommended supplements just above)
Regularity — pooping daily and avoiding constipation
Key for detoxing, foods and toxins need to move through the body daily.
For this reason, foods high in fiber can be very helpful, foods like oatmeal, small amounts of psyllium husk, berries and beans.
Every body is different, so each of us have to figure out what works best.
Read Natural Constipation Solutions and Remedies here for more specifics. Or, begin experimenting with varying amounts of fiber foods at different meals.
Also consider omitting foods that can worsen constipation, foods like: white rice, white flour bread products, dairy and too much meat without enough fiber to balance it.
Testing and going deeper with a doctor
If you begin an anti-inflammatory diet and decide to go to the next level of wellness, knowing your mineral levels and about the toxins in your body is helpful.
I personally recommend Dr. Smith, a doctor I’ve personally worked with who does both hair mineral and blood testing, and meets with clients via Zoom. You learn how much zinc, molybdenum, magnesium, selenium, potassium to take — and what your toxin and heavy metal levels look like, plus how to detox them.
It really helped my family to meet him and change from guessing on our supplements to being on the right doses of minerals.