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16 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat to Reduce Pain

Fill up on these nutritious whole foods to nourish your body and stop pain.

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Olive oil fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Olive oil

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a chemical in extra-virgin olive oil, oleocanthal, inhibits inflammatory enzymes in the same way that ibuprofen does. Drizzle olive oil on veggies and salads, and dunk bread into it instead of patting on butter or margarine. Don’t miss these other health benefits of olive oil.

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Pineapple fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme, makes this tropical fruit one of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods. Studies show that eating pineapple may reduce pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and lower swelling in people with carpal tunnel syndrome. Find out how to tell the difference between 10 of the most common types of arthritis.

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Apples can reduce inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


These popular fruits are just one of the many foods that reduce inflammation because they contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. No wonder one a day keeps the doctor away. Check out 20 more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

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Nuts and seeds fight inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Nuts and seeds

Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan may lower pain sensitivity just one hour after eating. Other foods with high levels of tryptophan include hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, turkey, dairy products, soy, seafood, whole grains, rice, beans, and lentils.

Need instant pain relief? Find out why a beer might be more effective than an aspirin at relieving pain.

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Spinach fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


Green leafy vegetables, including kale, chard, bok choy, and silverbeet are anti-inflammatory foods because they’re packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids, which are plant pigments that give green and orange produce their vibrant colour.

Discover the superfood that can help you fall asleep—and boost your IQ!

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Dark chocolate fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Dark chocolate

Yes, you read that correctly. Dark chocolate contains chemicals that help fight inflammation. According to a large Italian study, people who ate about one square of dark chocolate every three days had significantly lower measures of a protein associated with inflammation than those who ate no chocolate at all. Here’s how dark chocolate (and other surprising foods) can also boost your sex life.

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Brown rice fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Brown rice

Brown rice and other whole grains can help fight off the pains of irritable bowel syndrome (be sure to watch out for these sneaky IBS triggers). Whole grains are also a good source of magnesium, which appears to cut the frequency of migraines by helping to relax nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. Added bonus: According to a Harvard University study, women who eat brown rice are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t.

Learn more about the symptoms and risk factors of IBS.

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Grapes reduce inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


Chomp on some grapes or mulberries or sip wine (it’s true!) for a dose of resveratrol, which inhibits inflammatory enzymes in much the same way aspirin does (but without the stomach irritation). Here are 13 more surprising natural remedies that actually work.

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Oranges fight inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


British researchers who analyzed the diets of 25,000 people found that those who ate foods with a chemical common in oranges and other orange-coloured fruits, like apricots and nectarines, were less likely to have painful inflammatory joint conditions. Just one or two daily servings of these fruits made a difference. Here are 15 more medical discoveries you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Cherries fight inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


Cherries contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which give berries their blue and red colours and fight inflammation in the same way aspirin does. Raspberries and strawberries are also anti-inflammatory foods.

Knew this already? Test your health savvy with these 30 medical trivia questions only geniuses will get right.

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Cranberry juice fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Cranberry juice

Harvard University researchers found that women who drank 10 ounces of cranberry juice a day had bladder infections only 42 per cent as often as those who did not drink up. The researchers believe that an ingredient in the juice may inhibit bacteria from invading the bladder wall.

Beware of these 11 silent signs you have a kidney infection.

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Onions and garlic fight inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Onions and garlic

Foods that reduce inflammation like this family of bulb vegetables are high in anti-inflammatory substances, as well as sulfur compounds, that help stimulate the immune system to keep everything running smoothly. Add even more flavour to your cooking with these 10 healing spices.

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Green tea fights inflammationPhoto: Shutterstock

Green and black tea

Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which may protect against cell damage that can worsen conditions such as arthritis. It also contains a chemical that fights inflammation, so consider swapping that morning cup of joe for a green tea instead. Here are 11 more health benefits of green tea you haven’t heard before.

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Broccoli fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock


Broccoli contains glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that may guard against arthritis. Other fruits and vegetables rich in glutathoine include asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, and watermelons.

Exploring other pain relief options? You can also try these 4 homeopathic remedies for arthritis symptoms.

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Salmon fights inflammationPhoto: Shutterstock


Oily fish such as salmon, trout, and anchovies, along with walnuts, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and canola oil contain omega-3 (this chart will tell you which fish have the most omega-3) fatty acids that make them powerful anti-inflammatory foods. A University of Pittsburgh study found that people with back and neck pain who took omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form for three months had less pain overall. Eat fatty fish at least twice a week and consider taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement to fight pain.

Here are the 10 best meals to eat when you feel sick.

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Soy protein fights inflammationPhoto: ShutterStock

Soy protein

Researchers at Oklahoma State University found that people with osteoarthritis, especially men, who ate 40 grams of soy protein per day for three months had less pain and moved more easily than those who didn’t. It’s tough to eat that much pure soy protein a day unless you add soy protein powder to a shake or smoothie, but it is still worth adding a serving of soya beans, tofu, or soy milk to your daily food intake.

Next, check out the six foods that can help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest