There’s a motto out there that a lot of health-conscious people swear by when it comes to choosing healthy foods: If you can pick it, pluck it, or catch it, it’s a food worth adding to your plate.
Natural foods — including fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, and plant-based proteins — are higher in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants when compared to processed foods. In some cases, you may have to spend a little more time preparing them, but the health benefits you’ll reap don’t come close to those you get from your average boxed or canned food. In fact, some even have rich antioxidant properties that will help ease the inflammatory symptoms you may be experiencing.
“There are a lot of ailments and diseases that cause inflammation in the body, ” explains Regina Fazzini, a New York-based nutritionist. “Changing your diet by eating pure, natural anti-inflammatory foods, which include fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, can help reduce inflammation and prevent other problems from popping up since they’re healthy unprocessed foods.”
Here are just some of the natural anti-inflammatory foods that Fazzini and health experts say are ridiculously good for you:
It may seem like a cliche, but the fruit that has been keeping doctors away for decades has major health benefits and really is worth incorporating into your daily diet. Apples have antioxidants that fight cell-damaging free radicals, and they can lower bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels, which lowers your risk of heart disease.
A medium-size apple has less than 100 calories and four grams of fiber, which regulates your digestive system and makes you feel fuller for longer. With vitamins C, B, and smaller amounts of potassium, vitamin K, and manganese, it’s one of the healthiest fruits for your gut and heart.
Don’t avoid avocados because they’re high in fat — they contain a wealth of healthy fats that can actually lower your bad cholesterol levels. Avocado has an incredible number of nutrients that include vitamins E, K, and B, as well as fiber. Studies have even shown that avocado extracts may be effective in treating diabetes, hypertension, and could even stop pre-cancerous cells from growing, according to Medical News Today.
It’s impossible not to think of antioxidants when thinking of blueberries. This powerful little fruit contains phytonutrients and plant polyphenols that fight free radicals and can reduce the development of fat cells. A Harvard Medical School study showed people who eat more blueberries experience less cognitive decline over the years and this fiber-filled fruit helps stabilize your weight while controlling hypertension. A few berries in your oatmeal or smoothie is all it takes to get the most out of this incredibly healthy food.
Is there anything salmon can’t do? This cold water fish is best known for its omega-3 fatty acid content, which protects you against heart disease, lowers blood pressure, reduces cancer risks, and fights inflammation. But salmon is so much more than just an omega-3 gift to your plate. It has protein, potassium, selenium, and is high in B vitamins. It’s even kind to your skin, thanks to an antioxidant called astaxanthin that prevents skin damage, according to Healthline.
Just be sure to choose wild salmon over farmed salmon, which contains more unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids than its wild counterpart.