For people who struggle with chronic inflammation, making key dietary choices can make a real difference.
The anti-inflammatory diet can help relieve joint pain and reduce inflammation.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, certain foods can help tackle inflammation, strengthen bones, and boost the immune system.
Following a specific anti-inflammatory meal plan can help people make tasty, nutritious food while helping to keep their inflammation under control.
26 anti-inflammatory recipes
The anti-inflammatory diet contains plenty of prebiotics, fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3s. This means a diet rich in vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains, legumes, and fatty fish.
Read on for 26 anti-inflammatory recipes to try for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Start off the day with the following nutritious anti-inflammatory recipes:
1. Oat porridge with berries
Oats with berries delivers high doses of prebiotics, antioxidants, and fiber.
Oats are high in a type of fiber called beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are an important prebiotic for the gut bacteria Bifidobacterium, which may help reduce diabetes-related inflammation and obesity.
Prebiotics help the healthy gut bacteria to flourish, which can help reduce inflammation.
Berries are high in antioxidants, and blueberriesare especially high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols called anthocyanins.
Dietary tip: Traditional rolled and steel cut oats are higher in fiber than quick oats.
2. Buckwheat and chia seed porridge
Buckwheat groats are gluten-free and a great substitute for oats for people who are sensitive to gluten.
Adding chia seeds will boost the healthful omega-3 content of this breakfast choice.
Omega-3s help reduce inflammation in the body, and research shows that they can improve joint tenderness and stiffness in people with RA.
Chia seeds are also high in fiber and protein, which will keep people feeling full for longer.
3. Buckwheat berry pancakes
Buckwheat is also a good source of two key anti-inflammatory polyphenols called quercetin and rutin.
According to a 2016 study, quercetin is an antioxidant, while rutin has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with arthritis.
Despite its name, buckwheat is not a grain. It is the seed of a fruit and is gluten-free. Buckwheat is especially popular in Japanese cuisine.
Many health food supermarkets and online stores sell buckwheat.
4. Scrambled eggs with turmeric
Image credit: pulaw, 2014
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and the egg yolk contains vitamin D.
A 2016 review stated that vitamin D could limit the process of inflammation due to its effects on the immune system. The report also noted that people with RA had lower vitamin D levels than other people studied.
Add turmeric to scrambled eggs for an extra anti-inflammatory boost. Turmeric is rich in a compound called curcumin, which studies suggest can help manage oxidative and inflammatory conditions.
5. Smoked salmon, avocado, and poached eggs on toast
Salmon and avocado are both rich sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating plenty of healthful fatty acids can also improve heart health and lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
This hearty breakfast is great for very active days or weekend brunches. For gluten-free options, use gluten-free bread.
6. Pineapple smoothie
A smoothie is a good breakfast on the go. A smoothie is full of fiber and protein, which makes people feel fuller for longer.
Pineapple contains high levels of bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. There is growing interest in bromelain supplements due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Grilled sauerkraut, hummus, and avocado sandwich
Choose this healthful vegetarian version of the Reuben for an anti-inflammatory boost.
Sauerkraut contains probiotics that are essential for a person’s gut bacteria. Probiotics may have an impact on arthritis-related inflammation by improving inflammation in the intestinal tract.
This grilled sandwich contains all the benefits of sauerkraut but contains less salt and calories than the Reuben. Adding hummus and avocado to replace the meat, provides protein and a smooth, creamy texture.
8. Spinach and feta frittata
Image credit: jules, 2017
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, contain high levels of two polyphenols called quercetin and coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 may reduce inflammation in some metabolic diseases, including RA, multiple sclerosis (MS), and diabetes.
Frittatas are quick and easy to make, and people can enjoy experimenting with a range of flavors. Having a side salad adds further benefits from vegetables.
9. Quinoa and citrus salad
A quinoa and citrus fruit salad is gluten-free and great for people on a vegan diet. Quinoa contains lots of protein and nutrients.
Add citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime, or grapefruit, to the salad for an antioxidant boost. Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant that can also help renew other antioxidants in the body.
Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron from plant-based sources, such as spinach and quinoa.
Quinoa is easy to cook and store, so people can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until needed.
10. Lentil, beetroot, and hazelnut salad
Lentil salads are a simple, protein-rich lunchtime option for people on a vegetarian diet.
Lentils and beetroot increase the fiber content, while the hazelnuts provide extra protein and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant.
Beetroots contain high amounts of a compound called betaine. Betaine is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
11. Cauliflower steak with beans and tomatoes
A cauliflower steak is a great vegetarian and vegan option to steak.
Cauliflower is high in fiber and antioxidants. It is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Including white beans to the dish adds essential fermentable fibers for healthy gut bacteria.
12. Lettuce wraps with smoked trout
Trout is a fatty fish that contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s.
To make this meal more filling, try using wholemeal or gluten-free wraps, or adding brown rice as a side.
To ensure this recipe is gluten-free, check the nutrition label on the fish sauce. If it contains gluten, people may choose to leave it out. Skip the sweet chili sauce to lower the sugar content.
13. Salmon with zucchini pasta and pesto
Zucchini pasta is a great gluten-free alternative to pasta.
This recipe is light yet filling and includes plenty of omega-3 rich ingredients, including salmon and avocado. People can replace the salmon with another fatty fish, such as tuna or mackerel, to get the same omega-3 benefits.
Cooking tip: Make zucchini noodles using a potato peeler. Peel the full length, rotating the zucchini, to get even, linguine-like noodles.
14. Roasted cauliflower, fennel, and ginger soup
Vegetables are full of anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols.
The added ginger gives this meal an extra anti-inflammatory and antioxidant boost.
Thick soups, such as this roasted cauliflower and fennel soup, can help people to increase their vegetable intake.
15. Lentil and chicken soup with sweet potato
Another filling soup option, the sweet potato, and lentils ramp up this soup’s fiber, protein, and nutrients content.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and B-vitamins. They also contain calcium, iron, and healthful antioxidants.
Use leftover roast chicken or store-bought chicken to save time.
16. Salmon with greens and cauliflower rice
Salmon and cauliflower rice is a nutritious, simple option for an evening meal. Subbing cauliflower rice for regular rice can help increase veggies intake, decrease calories, and provide extra nutrients.
Add healthful green vegetables to go towards the daily recommended vegetable intake of 2–3 cups.
Brussel sprouts and cauliflower are both cruciferous vegetables high in fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols.
Cooking tip: Not entirely sold on cauliflower rice? Try a combo of cauliflower and brown rice together.
17. Shrimp and vegetable curry
Shrimp is another good food to include because it contains astaxanthin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Add carrots, red peppers, and peas for their healthful polyphenol content.
Try adding 2 tbsp. of turmeric for extra inflammatory benefits.
Turmeric is nearly tasteless so people can use it in all curries, soups, and casseroles.
18. Vegetarian chili
Vegetarian chili is a versatile dish. With a variety of beans full of fermentable fibers, this chili looks after gut health.
Beans are also good sources of antioxidant vitamin C and are high in plant proteins.
Try experimenting with different beans and vegetables to find the preferred combination.
19. Salmon cakes
Salmon cakes are full of omega-3s, as well as colorful vegetables.
Bake these in the oven to lower their saturated fat content. Make the cakes ahead of time, and freeze immediately for future dinners.
To make salmon cakes gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond meal to combine.
To incorporate healthful anti-inflammatory snacks into the diet, try the following recipes:
20. Power balls
Power balls are an easy snack to make. The sesame seeds are an excellent source of omega-3s.
This versatile snack provides both nutrients and energy, and makes an ideal, healthful pick-me-up to eat during the day.
Power balls are gluten-free and dairy-free and make great lunchtime or school snacks.
21. Chia seed pudding
Image credit: Brenda Godinez
Chia seed pudding is quick to prepare and makes a great, filling snack or dessert.
Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3, plant-based protein, and fiber.
These puddings are incredibly versatile. Choose a favorite fruit to go with it. Use a dairy-free yogurt, such as coconut yogurt to make it vegan.
A small pot of yogurt or probiotic delivers beneficial bacteria to the gut. A healthy gut microbiome is essential to reduce leaky gut and inflammation.
Yogurt also contains plenty of calcium and protein, which are essential nutrients to keep the body healthy.
Add this versatile food to cereals, fruits, or berries for a more substantial snack.
23. Turmeric nachos
Making nachos at home can be a more healthful and more nutritious alternative to store-bought options.
These nachos are high in turmeric, which can help reduce inflammation.
They also contain almond meal, making them a good source of antioxidant vitamin E.
24. Matcha smoothie bowl
Matcha is a green tea powder. Many people use it to make tea, lattes, or tasty smoothie bowls.
Like other green teas and black tea, matcha is high in a polyphenol called epigallocatechin (EGCG). These compounds provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Matcha is available through most tea specialists, Asian grocers, or online.
25. Trail mix
It is easy to make trail mix at home by mixing together nuts and seeds.
This is a versatile snack because people can mix different types of nuts and seeds together depending on their prefrences.
Nuts and seeds are high in omega-3, protein, and healthful fats. Try adding goji berries, which are high in vitamin C.
26. Grape and apple race cars
This is a fun recipe to make with kids. Involve them in cooking and get the creative juices flowing.
Grapes are also a good source of another anti-inflammatory polyphenol called anthocyanins. Red grapes are a great source of resveratrol, which may help reduce inflammation.
Apples are high in fiber, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
An anti-inflammatory diet is high in plant foods, such as vegetables, legumes, and fruit.
Fermented products, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, are also important, as are fatty fish and seafood.
Although it is great to know what ingredients in food provide healthful benefits, it is essential to include a wide variety of whole food in the diet.
Reduce foods with added sugars, fats, and salts. This will help restore balance in the gut and reduce inflammation.