Inflammation can be a confusing topic to discuss. Your body uses inflammation when you suffer from injury or illness – it’s your body’s miraculous way of healing itself! However, nowadays more and more people suffer from chronic inflammation, which is a whole different story.
Inflammation becomes chronic when your body continues to send out inflammatory markers even though you don’t have a specific injury. Over time, this can lead to serious health issues like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, or even certain types of cancer.
This type of chronic inflammation is also closely linked to the aging process. A report published in Aging and disease says inflammation that is left untreated can ultimately speed up the aging process and increase the risk of age-related disease.
Fighting and preventing chronic inflammation involves eating a healthy diet and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. Although we can’t prevent inflammation by eating just one type of food, there are some nutrient-dense foods we can incorporate into our diet to help.
Keep reading to learn about some of the best vegetables you can eat to reduce inflammation and slow aging. And for more healthy eating tips, check out 5 Best Vegetables to Eat After 50.
Bell peppers are a versatile vegetable that’s delicious cooked or eaten raw with your favorite dip. And according to our dietitians, they’re also helpful in managing inflammation to slow aging!
“Peppers are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which are natural antioxidants. They are also high in fiber and water, making them a hydrating vegetable. Their high levels of antioxidants also make them anti-inflammatory, which means they can help reduce inflammation in the body,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RDdietitian and author Recipe for survival.
Broccoli is another extremely nutrient-dense vegetable option, so you can add it to your next dinner to slow the rate of age-related diseases that are linked to chronic inflammation.
“Broccoli is rich in sulfurophanes, which are extremely healthy and anti-inflammatory natural antioxidants. Broccoli is also rich in calcium, fiber and contains a good amount of water, which also contributes to its anti-inflammatory abilities. It also contains a lot of vegetable protein compared to other vegetables,” says Hunnes.
People have mixed opinions about potatoes because they’re a high-carb vegetable, but this root vegetable is packed with helpful nutrients that can slow aging.
“Potatoes are a nutrient-dense food that are high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and can fight free radicals. White potatoes can reduce inflammation, cholesterol and blood pressure in the body,” says a dietician. Veronica Rouse, MAN, RD, CDE.
Leafy greens are an important vegetable to add to your diet whenever you can because they are packed with health benefits.
“Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard are excellent sources of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They provide the body with vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber. Including dark green leafy vegetables in your diet can help reduce inflammation in the body and promote overall health,” says the dietitian. Mandy Tyler, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, LAT.
Garlic is not only delicious, but it has a ton of useful benefits for many aspects of your health.
“Garlic is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods you can eat. It’s packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that help boost your immune system and protect you against [age-related diseases like] cancer,” says a registered dietitian Ronald Smith, Dt.P.. “Add it to your diet in small amounts (one clove per day) or use it as a seasoning on food,” he suggests.
Onions can add a burst of flavor to your favorite dishes, as well as a burst of helpful nutrients too!
“Onions are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant compound found in many fruits and vegetables that helps prevent chronic disease by reducing inflammation in the body. In addition to quercetin, onions are also loaded with other beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E and magnesium. You can enjoy them raw or cooked, just make sure they are peeled first!” said Smith.
Tomatoes are high in anti-inflammatory properties, so it may be a good idea to incorporate them into your diet when you can.
“Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation in your body. Lycopene is also thought to help protect against heart disease and certain cancers,” Smith says.