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Anti-inflammatory foods - what to make?

My doctor wants me to eat a variety of anti-inflammatory foods because of some muscle/back issues I am having. I've done some research and it looks like I need to stay away from processed starches, even whole grain bread, and red meat and dairy. I'm a pretty good cook so I see this as a fun challenge.

I'm supposed to eat lots of cold water fish, blueberries, strawberries, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, etc. Is anyone already doing an anti-inflammatory diet? I would love some meal ideas or food suggestions and recipes if you have them.


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  1. sour cherry juice is supposed to help. I don't know if it really does or not, but it tastes lovely. Make sure it's SOUR cherry juice, not the more readily available black cherry juice

    I use this as license to eat the sour cherries that come bottled from the German delis too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: orangewasabi

      Black cherry juice and give up coffee and decaf. The coffee bean has an acid in it that attacks your joints.

    2. Drink green tea and get a book by Dr. Mark Hyman from the library--either Ultra prevention or ultra metabolism. Both deal with inflamation and what foods to choose, etc.

      After reading, you may find you want to make permanent changes.

      1. the website nutritiondata.com lists the i.f. factor of over 40,000 different foods, including fast food and prepared foods. it's got a wealth of other data too.

        i usually am just cooking for one, which often means raw salads or quick sautees. i love a little canned san marzano tomato with lentils, broccoli, lots of garlic and rosemary and watercress. quick ginger garlic broth with spinach or napa cabbage, and either tofu or poached egg. tiny pink lentils over bulgur, with mint and parsley. black beans with cilantro, barley and plain soy yogurt. tinned salmon, mackerel or smoked eel are delicious over bitter greens with a mustardy dressing. i also like them sauteed with eggs or tofu. buckwheat noodles with edamame and arugula, finished with a little sesame oil. salmon or bluefish glazed with mustard, over corn and brown rice.

        for breakfast every day have a bowl of mixed berries or whizz them into a soy yogurt smoothie, and you're off to a great start.

        1. Some say the nightshade vegetables contribute to inflammation. These include tomatos, potatos, peppers and eggplant.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfish

            i've heard that too. but i use the equivalent of 2 plum tomatoes in a skillet that's got about 6 cups of veggies in it.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Yes, nightshade vegetables gave me trouble when I went through a spell of autoimmune trouble some years back. I also was instructed to ingest as much fresh ginger as I could get - the local pharmacist got me ginger capsules. I preferred using gingerroot in food, though, and I do believe it helped.

              Good luck, and watch your tummy if you're taking any NSAIDs - always on a very full stomach. I took mine with heavy cream, and had no trouble.

            2. Steel-cut oats are really good with just salt and pepper and a little Molly McButter - I like to add a bit of milk, but if you can't have that don't. Alternatively you could stir in some fruit and a small squirt of honey.

              I don't have a wonky back, but I am subject to gout, so I'm glad to see all the other recs you've been getting.

              1. Try macrobiotic diet. Aveline and Michio Kushi for more traditional Japanese or Christina (I can't remember her last name) Cooks for more mediterranean style.

                1. unheated cold -pressed olive oil,3 Tablespoons /day,compared well to advil in recent study. Use on salad or bread,as heating makes it less effective.Fish oils also reduce inflammation. Avoid fried foods and synthetic oils at all costs

                  1. I understand that omega-3 fatty acids (yes, the stuff in salmon) has anti-inflammatory properties, as does flaxseed and flaxseed oils.

                    1. I'm doing an anti-inflammation diet, too, for rheumatoid arthritis. Pineapple is a good inflammation fighter, as well the berries. One of the things I drink every day is the following smoothie...it's fabulous! Sometimes I leave out the ice and just use the frozen fruit..really intense and wonderful flavor. This serves 2 as a snack or 1 as a meal.

                      Berry Nice Smoothie
                      2C ice
                      1C vanilla soy milk
                      1C frozen blueberries
                      1/4C frozen blackberries
                      1/2C pineapple chunks
                      1/2 banana
                      1t grated lemon zest
                      1/2t grated fresh ginger

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: wyf4lyf

                        I'm not on an anti-inflamatory diet but often make vegan food. I make a similar smoothie for breakfast each day and use 1 cup frozen berry blend of blueberries, strawberry, raspberry and blackberry from Trader Joes, 1 cup chocolate soymilk (8th Continent or Silk are the tastiest brands), a small banana, 2 T benefiber.

                        1. re: wyf4lyf

                          Me too! It does really seem to be helping my RA. I'm just starting to get really tired of all of the "allowed" foods. I miss starch!

                        2. The other thing I do a lot for breakfast or lunch is scrambled eggs with veggies. One egg (I get the Omega-3 eggs for this) plus 3 egg whites. Saute in a bit of olive oil some onion, spinach, artichoke hearts...then add the eggs. Really excellent.

                          Eat as much salmon as you can stand...broiled, poached, baked, canned. Tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies are also high in Omega-3s. I'm eating fish almost every night for dinner these days.

                          Vegetarian chili is another standby. The soy protein "hamburger" is quite amazing in a flavorful chili. Saute onion, green pepper, chopped carrots and garlic in some olive oil. Add in the soy meat. Heat through. Add a couple of cans of seasoned chili beans, 15 oz. tomato sauce, 2C water...and all the spices you like -- I add chili powder, cumin, shakes of Tabasco, salt, pepper. Simmer uncovered about 1/2 hour, adding more water if it gets too thick. My family loves this, too!

                          I'm following the plan found in the book "Diet for a Pain-Free Life" by Harris McIlwain. He's a rheumatologist. The recipes in the book were developed by his daughter who is a Cordon Bleu trained chef...so they are interesting and delicious.

                          Please feel free to contact me at wyf4lyf@wichman.org to talk more about this if you want to.


                          1 Reply
                          1. Picked young ginger (the tender kind)



                            1. Try to keep your blood sugar more level by eating low glycemic load foods. Or, if you eat something that's higher in glycemic loads, eat protein or fat to slow down the increase in your blood sugar. So, rather than just eating plain fruit, have some nuts with it or cheese.


                              For breakfast, I'll make a big pot of steel cut oatmeal. You can microwave a little at a time. I add nuts to it and blueberries when they're in season.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: chowser

                                I'm confused...I would think Spelt or other wheat-free breads would be the best, but according to this chart, it's got a higher GI and GL than whole wheat bread..?

                                1. re: Clare K

                                  Spelt is not actually wheat free. It's a different form of wheat, but still wheat.
                                  Quinoa is a good alternative. High protein grain, etc.

                                  1. re: pescatarian

                                    Do they make quinoa bread? I would love something in bread form...

                                    1. re: Clare K

                                      I have seen it, but I haven't tried it. I've used quinoa for salads where you would use pasta or rice or couscous and for a warm breakfast ala oatmeal (although I do like oatmeal as well).
                                      I also like to use brown rice products - pasta, rice cakes, etc.
                                      I like to choose dark rye occasionally as well.
                                      There is another thread on here today about "healthy baking" where there is a recommendation for King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour. You might want to look into that for bread making. It sounds interesting.

                                      1. re: Clare K

                                        Quinoa is very adaptable to lots of recipes. I have seen stir frys with quinoa, peppers stuffed with quinoa, I make a tabouleh type sald and also I have attemted various banana breads. Still haven't perfected the last one.

                                        1. re: Clare K

                                          Sammy's Bread! is very good and gluten free. Also comes in hamburger bun and hot dog role style. I got rid of my inflammation going wheat free vegan. It isn't easy, but the pain went away which is what I really wanted.

                                  2. Ha! just eat vegan. Indian food, meaning get rid of the dairy too [use soy yogurt, soy milk,].. Tumeric & Chili powder (not mexican just hot cayenne) are fantastic anti-inflammatories. As well as more of the herbs & spices. Kerala, Southern cuisine is the best, being nice & hot & primarily veg/vegan with some fish.

                                    1. We should add soda, aka pop, the carbonated cola drinks. Supposed to be very acidic to the system, requiring large amounts of water to neutralize the effects in the body.

                                      Loads of different theories on what is helpful in reducing inflammation. You may want to check out the Ayurvedic approach. Macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, and Chinese Five Elements systems deal with relationships between elements and how to use them to balance oneself. What might work for someone else might not be the right answer for you, but there do seem to be some universal constants, i.e. fish oil, omega 3, have been demonstrated to support health in various cultures. That to me, is one of the most validating things ... look at the health of cultures and look at their lifestyle. What sort of diet promotes illness, what promotes health, follow the path to what works and avoid what doesn't. But always notice how your body reacts to certain foods, because even the so-called healthiest food might not be right for you.

                                      1. Are there any breads readily available that are safe to eat?

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Clare K

                                          I think any bread WITHOUT flour...have you heard of Ezekiel bread? It's in the frozen section...there are other "sprouted" breads nearby, well, in my grocery store anyway.

                                          1. re: Val

                                            That's what I thought too...if that's the case, then my spelt bread should be ok. Thanks!!

                                            1. re: Clare K

                                              I don't think that spelt bread is bad for you, but it is not gluten free as are other grains. It might be in the same freezer, but there are other breads in that section that are specifically gluten free. They will say so on the packaging if they are.

                                          2. re: Clare K

                                            Do you have a Whole Foods near you? They have a rice bread that is reasonably tasty. It's gluten free so no wheat.

                                            1. re: lisaf

                                              I do, but from what I understand, rice bread has a high glycemic load and is high on the glycemic index. Clearly I am a novice on this stuff...I'm trying to figure out which is better for me: a wheat-free, gluten-free bread that is high on the GL/GI scale, or one that is whole grains and low on the scale? I have to do some research to find out...

                                              1. re: Clare K

                                                This may help from Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART02012

                                                I remember one of his recent books talked a lot about anti-inflammatory foods.
                                                I'm sure there is a lot of info out there other than Dr. Weil too.
                                                My understanding is that you are better off with wheat-free products.

                                          3. I'm not sure about the anti-inflammatory diet, but I am gluten free. Whole foods gluten free bakehouse breads are delicious. they are made with a combination of rice, soy, garbanzo, tapioca, etc. That may be a good alternative for you. You can buy quinoa to eat as a side dish (they also make quinoa pasta and other - brown rice - pastas) to have a side dishes. Quinoa is delicious and easy to make.

                                            one caveat on eating tons of tuna and salmon - because these fish are high on the food chain, the concentration of bad stuff is higher. Tuna has high levels of mercury which is a big factor in parkinson's disease. I know someone who has parkinson's and we think its from too much tuna. It is recommended that you dont eat tuna more that once every week or two. Salmon has high levels of PCBs - from waste dumped into the ocean - which sticks in the fats of the fish. If you can grill the salmon or lift it up so taht the fat drains off as it cooks, it is much healthier.

                                            1. Various parts of the xcelery plant are anti-inflammatories. I don't know how you woulduse it but it is used in herbal remediesfor this purpose.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: bolivianita

                                                I have ordered the book "Empower your health" by Dr. Asa Andrews. He has a radio show on am radio at 8pm. He is very big on a anti inflammatory diet. He says you should not have any dairy except butter, no grains at all that includes rice,pasta bread , flour etc.

                                              2. Thanks for all of your suggestions. I am beginning week 2 of my anti-inflammatory diet and so far, so good. I haven't been entirely strict about it - allow myself a Saturday night "off" here and there. Here's a snapshot of my meals:

                                                Bran cereal with raisins
                                                Spelt flakes with freeze dried strawberries
                                                Omega-3 egg and soy sausage
                                                Salmon filet and cucumbers

                                                Curried lentils with onions and spinach, rainbow trout filet and roasted cauliflower
                                                Salmon steak with mixed green salad with extra onions
                                                Chicken and onion kebob, hummous and a green salad

                                                Smoked salmon on two slices of toasted brown rice bread with dijon mustard, onion slices, capers and cucumbers and a huge green salad
                                                Lentil soup, gluten-free nut crackers and roasted cauliflower
                                                Sardines in olive oil on toasted brown rice bread with a squeeze of lemon juice and a cabbage salad.

                                                Strawberries and blueberries with a touch of honey
                                                Sliced Japanese cucumbers
                                                Dry roasted almonds
                                                100% natural apple sauce with berries
                                                Maple almonds
                                                Savory spiced pecans

                                                It's pretty easy to have diverse and fulfiling meals even on a diet that's relatively restrictive. I always get wild caught fish, and make sure I have a variety of textures so I don't get bored. I buy most of my food at Trader Joe's, then hit Whole Foods for the more unusual stuff. Best that way to keep the cost down.

                                                Thanks again,

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Clare K

                                                  That looks very healthy and wonderful and delicious. You've done a really good job and I'd like to follow a similar diet. One tiny thing....you know that bran is wheat?

                                                2. Free ginger seems to be good, but mainly it is best to increase vegetables and fruits. Also, of course, exercise, stretching, and massage is beneficial.