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Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing—it’s an effective tool that your body uses to get you to pay attention, whether to a blister or bursitis. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it goes beyond helpful. In fact, numerous studies have found that it may play a serious role in a wide variety of diseases, including heart disease.
The good news? The same practices that keep your heart in good shape can help you to reduce your chances of developing chronic inflammation and reduce inflammation already present: Get regular exercise, don’t smoke—and eat right. Here are specific foods that can help:
Shoot for two cups (or two pieces) of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables every day. Those that are high in pigments called carotenoids (carrots, sweet potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables) and in deep red or purple ones (red or purple grapes, berries, beets) are particularly beneficial, but all fruits and veggies will add to your anti-inflammation arsenal. According to a 2001 Harvard University study, just one extra serving a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by four percent.
When it comes to fats, omega-3s and omega-6s are fatty acids that can help to reduce inflammation—but some omega-6s may promote it. How can you find the right balance? Focus on the “beneficial fats” found in canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli) and fatty fish.
This type of fat is abundant in processed and fried foods. It increases shelf life and boosts flavor, but it also clogs arteries, contributes to weight gain and causes inflammation. Avoid packaged baked goods like crackers and cookies (or stay well within portion sizes) and limit fried foods or those made with shortening.
Whole grains are packed with compounds that can help protect against disease, and they’re teeming with B vitamins and vitamin E, minerals like iron and magnesium, and fiber—all of which are great at holding off inflammation and promoting cardiovascular health.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for a loved one, please call us at 1-800-675-0391.