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Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

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Did you know that anti-inflammatory foods can help you stop the sneakiest heart disease risk? Although our bodies rely on inflammation to help fight off infections and heal sudden injuries, chronic inflammation is like a five-alarm fire that increases your risk of heart disease.

What are anti-inflammatory foods?

Fortunately, researchers have now pinpointed several simple strategies that can douse the flame, cutting your risk of heart woes 50 percent with almost no effort at all.

Whisk away trouble with chickpeas. Or other beans, red-skinned peanuts and oats. All are packed with saponins, plant compounds that help your liver quickly disarm inflammation and excrete it before it can cause trouble. In fact, just eating three cups of saponin-rich foods weekly is enough to lower your levels of inflammation and your heart disease risk by 25% in two weeks, say researchers at East Carolina University.

Protect your arteries with algae. A daily 12-mg. dose of astaxanthin, a nutrient extracted from algae and plankton, is such a powerful inflammation-tamer, supplementing with it could cut your risk of heart disease as much as 50 percent, reports the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis. Astaxanthin speeds the breakdown of damaging inflammation in your bloodstream, plus repairs and strengthens arteries if any have been damaged by inflammation, says study co-author Hiroshige Itakura, Ph.D. One option: Nutrex Hawaii's BioAstin ($10 for 25 gel caps).

Bonus: Astaxanthin quashes fatigue and increases stamina 25 percent in one month by helping your muscles burn food for energy, Japanese studies suggest Important: Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.

Regulate white blood cells with carrots. Eating three cups of carrots, sweet potatoes, or other orange vegetables weekly could lower your risk of heart-damaging inflammation by 42 percent, making them as effective an anti-inflammatory as aspirin, Harvard experts say. Credit goes to carotenoids, nutrients that help your white blood cells produce just enough inflammation to kill off viruses and other germs, but not so much that your own tissues are harmed.

Tame triggers with garlic and onions. Sugar, white flour, trans fats, chemical additives, even if you're careful, ingredients that encourage inflammation can sneak into some of your meals. Luckily, guarding against them is as easy as eating one clove of garlic or 1/4 cup of onions daily, Canadian researchers say. These flavor-enhancers are full of unique compounds that inhibit inflammation in the digestive tract, even on days when you eat foods that are inflammatory triggers.

Bonus: A daily dose of garlic or onions will reduce your risk of stomach and colon cancer by 44%, European researchers say.

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