If you suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory diseases, it’s important to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Why? Fruits and vegetables have pigments with natural anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce joint discomfort without the side effects of prescription drugs. Of course, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet may not completely eliminate the need for prescription medications, but it can help, particularly if you do it consistently. Here are three anti-inflammatory vegetables that are good for people with chronic pain and arthritis.
Anti-inflammatory Vegetables: Winter Squash
Winter squash is a good source of beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid with anti-inflammatory properties. Once in the body, beta-cryptoxanthin is converted to retinol, a form of vitamin A. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who consumed the highest levels of this compound had the lowest risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis – a condition characterized by inflammation in multiple joints. Winter squash is also a good source of beta-carotene – another carotenoid with anti-inflammatory properties. There are lots of easy ways to add more winter squash to your diet. Try pureeing and adding it to baked goods such as quick breads and cookies for extra flavor. It’s also delicious steamed or as a vitamin A rich addition to soups.
Anti-inflammatory Vegetables: Carrots
They’re easy to find on the produce stand with their bright orange color, but they really stand out because of their many health benefits. Carrots are another vegetable rich in inflammation reducing carotenoids. Although high in natural sugars, carrots are a good source of fiber which moderates the rise in blood sugar seen with foods that contain natural sugars. In addition to their anti-inflammatory benefits, carrots also help to protect against macular degeneration of the eye and may lower the risk of heart disease – thanks to their carotenes.
Anti-inflammatory Vegetables: Spinach
Did you know that spinach has one of the highest nutrient contents of any veggie on the produce stand? Spinach launches a three pronged attack against inflammation. It’s high in beta-carotene, the same carotenoid that gives the carrot its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as vitamin C and vitamin K which help to reduce inflammation. Interestingly, a study showed that a diet rich in vitamin K1, a type of K vitamin found in green, leafy vegetables, lowered the levels of fourteen different blood markers for inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory Vegetables: The Bottom Line?
These anti-inflammatory vegetables have numerous other health benefits as well. Adding them to your diet is an excellent move for over-all better health. Why not look for them at the Farmer’s market?