The key to reducing persistent inflammation that causes chronic diseases (Think: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer) may not be hiding in the medicine cabinet but in the refrigerator! Inflammation occurs when our immune systems attack a foreign substance in the body, such as invading microbes or chemicals. This is the good kind that acts as a protector.
The bad kind of inflammation results not from invaders but from lifestyle decisions like a poor diet or smoking. Studies suggest that antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, certain spices, nuts and seeds can help combat the inflammatory disease process and actually prevent illness. Let’s get cooking!
Peak season: Summer but available year-round.
Storage tip: Refrigerate berries for up to 10 days, and wash right before eating to reduce spoilage.
Dietitian’s tip: Add fresh blueberries to salads, yogurt or oatmeal. Use frozen berries for quick morning smoothies!
Peak season: Available year-round.
Storage tip: Let avocados ripen at room temperature on the counter. Store in fridge for up to a week once ripe.
Dietitian’s tip: Spread avocado on toast instead of butter, or mix into tuna as a mayo substitute. Add slices to sandwiches, salads and egg dishes. The possibilities are endless!
Peak season: Midsummer through December but available year-round.
Storage tip: Store in the crisper. It’ll last up to a week in a plastic bag in the fridge but will lose nutrients as it sits.
Dietitian’s tip: Add a handful of kale leaves (strip them from the stems) to your next smoothie for a nutrient punch. For a simple savory snack, lightly toss kale leaves with olive oil and sea salt. Roast in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes. Voilà: crispy kale chips!
Dietitian’s tip: Raw chocolate contains bioflavonoids that help boost mood as well as theobromine, an active compound that may improve blood flow. Cacao is also great source of fiber, magnesium and iron. Look for dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70%.
Peak season: Late winter and early spring but available year-round.
Storage tip: Store whole, unpeeled ginger in the crisper in a sealed bag. It also freezes well.
Dietitian’s tip: Ginger is famous for easing nausea and indigestion. Sip on ginger tea for tummy troubles. Add fresh grated ginger to a stir-fry, veggie burgers or salad dressing.
Storage tip: Store nuts and seeds in a cool, dry place. To extend shelf life, store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Dietitian’s tip: Add heart-healthy nuts and seeds (like pepitas, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts or almonds) to cereal, oatmeal and salad for crunch and a dose of healthy fats, protein and fiber. Next time you’re baking, try stirring together 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water for a vegan egg substitute.