You know the saying “you are what you eat?” Well, there’s a reason it’s so commonly heard. That is, the foods you consume daily directly impact your overall health, whether you can see it or not.
On the one hand, a healthy, balanced diet (AKA one that’s considered anti-inflammatory) consists of essential carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and, of course, water. Each of these must come from a variety of sources ranging from grains, fruits and vegetables to dairy and meat.
On the other hand, an unhealthy diet of artificial sugars, sodas, refined carbohydrates and processed foods can cause inflammation that could lead to obesity, acne, stress, diabetes, heart attacks or cancer, to name just a handful.
In combination with nutritional supplements and potent topical skincare, a well-balanced diet can help you maintain a healthier you. Keep these kitchen staples stocked for a healthy new year.
Healthy, Anti-Inflammatory Food List
Fish and seafood
Dr. Nicholas Perricone is a huge advocate for adding wild salmon and other omega-3 cold-water fish (think sardines, anchovies, halibut, sablefish, trout and so on) to your daily diet. Wild salmon, specifically, is rich in essential fats and powerful antioxidants that are known to deliver anti-aging benefits thanks to their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Should wild salmon not be your thing, other fish that are beneficial for you, and also deemed the eco-best choices by the Environmental Defense Fund, are:
- Bass, striped, farmed
- Clams, farmed
- Crawfish, U.S.
- Cod, Alaskan, longline
- Halibut, Pacific
- Lobster, Caribbean spiny, U.S.
- Mahimahi, U.S. troll/pole
- Oysters, farmed
- Sardines, Pacific, U.S.
Meat and poultry
Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, and meat and poultry are two of the top ways to get your daily source. The key is choosing that which is raised without added hormones or antibiotics and never fed animal products.
- Beef, 100% grass-fed
- Chicken and turkey, free-range
- Lamb, 100% grass-fed
Calcium and other nutrients found in dairy help to build and maintain strong bones, making it a necessary part of a balanced diet. While shopping, it is recommended that you choose organic and low fat (unless from grass-fed animals) options whenever possible. These include:
- Butter (use in moderation)
- Cheese (especially Parmigiano-Reggiano and sheep and goat milk cheeses such as feta, Pecorino Romano, etc.)
- Cottage cheese
- Eggs, organic, from free-range chickens
Believe it or not, a small amount of healthy fats (not saturated or trans fats) is a diet essential because they assist in the absorption of essential vitamins, while helping to improve cholesterol. Keep these monounsaturated fats in your kitchen so they become your go-tos:
- Coconut oil, virgin
- Olive oil, extra-virgin
- Olives, black or green
From fiber and vitamins to minerals and other nutrients, whole grains provide essential nourishment that’ll help lower your risk of health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease. Some whole grains to keep stocked in your kitchen this year include:
- Oats, whole or steel cut
- Oatmeal, slow-cooking
Nuts and seeds
While many nuts and seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds stand out for their long list of benefits. When eaten as part of a balanced diet, these nutrient-rich seeds work wonders to promote healthy weight loss and increase endurance and stamina. In skincare, they function as a top anti-inflammatory agent and mega-moisturizer. Other nutritious nuts and seeds to keep in your pantry:
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Fruits and vegetables
According to Harvard University, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can have a number of positive effects on the body. They may lessen the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, eye problems, digestive issues, high blood pressure and more. Plus, they taste delicious! Keep these options in rotation this year to decide your favorites:
- Berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
- Bok choy
- Lettuce, dark red and dark green varieties
- Oranges (temple, mandarin, blood, navel, etc.)
- Peppers, green, red, yellow and orange bell
- Potatoes, sweet
TIP: Save sweet fruit for the end of your meal to keep your blood sugar levels normal (and help curb artificial sugar cravings).
Beans and legumes
Surely a staple in any kitchen, fresh or dried beans and legumes are an excellent source of plant protein, calcium, zinc, potassium, fiber, iron, phosphorus and more. Tasty in soups, salads, stews and other dishes, they’re a staple to keep stocked up year-round:
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Cannellini beans
- Green peas
- Lima beans
- Pinto beans
- Red beans
- Split peas
Now, here’s a challenge for you! Peek at your grocery list. Can you swap out anything you have written down for some of these healthy alternatives? Remember: balance is key! We all need a cookie from time to time, too.