Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on foods that can lower inflammation in the body. These foods include minimally processed, high-quality foods without added sugar, fats or preservatives. A Mediterranean diet is an example of an anti-inflammatory diet. Everyone can benefit from eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

Anti-inflammatory Foods to Focus On

  • Fatty fish: wild caught salmon, halibut, herring, sardines, mackerel, tuna 
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Extra-virgin olive oil and other cold-pressed oils
  • Certain spices: turmeric, ginger, oregano, garlic, rosemary, cayenne, cloves, and cinnamon

Inflammatory Foods to Limit or Avoid

  • Trans-fats and hydrogenated oils: Commonly found in fried foods, baked goods, peanut butters and margarine spreads
  • Refined sugars: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, cane sugar, etc.
  • Foods that are high in carbohydrates but low in fiber: white flour, breads, white rice, crackers, desserts, sweetened beverages (soda, mixed drinks, etc.), fruit juice, highly processed prepared foods  
  • High omega-6 oils: corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, cottonseed and vegetable oils (the best way to limit these oils is to limit processed foods in your diet)

Tips for Following an Anti-inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle

  • Eat a variety of plant-based foods including vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds
  • Shop the Farmer’s Market for fresh, seasonal and locally grown foods
  • Cook primarily with extra virgin olive oil
  • Choose lean meats with emphasis on poultry and fish - eat fish twice a week
  • Choose fresh fruit as dessert
  • Make exercise a part of your daily routine
  • Aim to sleep 7-9 hours a night
  • Enjoy meals with friends and family

Quick Guide to The Anti-inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle

Increase  Decrease

Fruits and Vegetables

Aim for 4-8 cups per day

Asparagus, cherries, peppers, sweet potato, pineapple, squash, dark leafy greens, blueberries, broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, grapes, olives, plums, purple cabbage, etc.

Trans fats

Fried foods, partially hydrogenated oils, baked goods (cakes, pie crust, frosting, frozen pizza, cookies) 

Omega 3’s

Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel), fish oil (2-4 g daily good quality oil), pasture raised eggs, grass-fed meats, walnuts

Refined Vegetable Oils from Seeds

Soybean, corn, safflower, grapeseed, cottonseed, wheat germ

Monounsaturated Fats

Oils (cold pressed olive, sesame, peanut), avocados, nuts, seeds

Sugars and Simple Carbohydrates

White breads, English muffins, bagels, white pasta, instant and white rice, corn, sweetened cereals, candy, baked goods and other desserts, fruit juices


Vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.), whole grains (brown or wild rice, oats, buckwheat, barley, farro, wheat berry), nuts, seeds

Processed Meats

Lunch/deli meats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage


Choose lean cuts of meat, consider grass-fed or wild meat and fish, fermented dairy like yogurt and Kefir, eggs, plant-based proteins (beans, nuts, seeds) 

Saturated Fats

Margarine, pork, fatty beef

Limit butter and full fat dairy, like cream

Herbs and Spices

Paprika, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, sage, cumin, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, marjoram, tarragon, green tea 



Cooking Tips

  • Plan meals for the week 
  • Get prepped - online grocery shopping or phone apps can help, like Mealime
  • Cook large batches of staple foods, such as quinoa, roasted vegetables or hard-boiled eggs to cut down on future cooking time
  • Use low-heat cooking methods like slow cooking, poaching or steaming. Use water or broth for cooking liquid instead of frying in oils

Money Saving Tips 

  • Shop for grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds in bulk
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season
  • Choose canned salmon and make salmon patties – freeze any extras for later
  • Eat leftovers for lunch to cut back on eating out
  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Eat more beans and lentils to cut back on the expense of meat
  • Go outdoors or do home-based workouts to avoid the cost of a gym membership
  • Make small changes at a time, and consider talking to a registered dietitian about how you can make an anti-inflammatory diet work for you financially 

What Does a Day of Anti-Inflammatory Eating Look Like?

Lots of veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, a couple servings of fruit, and lean proteins! 


  • ½ cup dry rolled or steel cut oats
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 10 walnut halves
  • 1 large scoop of 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • Dash of cinnamon

1 cup of coffee


Mediterranean Spinach Salad

  • 3 handfuls of mixed salad greens or spinach
  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa, barley or wild rice
  • ½ cup garbanzo beans
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives
  • Cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar and ¼ lemon juice

1 Orange

6 ounces of Kefir or 2% Greek yogurt and 1-2 Kiwi fruit

Salmon and Roasted Vegetables

  • 4 ounces of baked or grilled salmon, seasoned with lemon and dill
  • 2 cups of roasted carrots, broccoli and brussels sprouts seasoned with olive or avocado oil, salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup lentils, barley or wild rice

2 squares of 70% dark chocolate