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Cut Your Risk of Heart Disease in Half With These Delicious Anti-Inflammatory Foods

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Did you know that anti-inflammatory foods can help you stop the sneakiest heart disease risks? 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 cardiovascular disease. That's why it's so important that you add the most anti-inflammatory foods available into your diet if you haven't already.

What are anti-inflammatory foods?

Fortunately, researchers have now pinpointed several anti-inflammatory foods that can cut your risk of heart woes by as much as 50 percent — and with almost no effort at all.

Whisk away trouble with chickpeas. If you're not a fan of beans, then red-skinned peanuts and oats are great alternative options. All of these anti-inflammatory foods are packed with saponins, which are plant compounds that help your liver quickly disarm inflammation and excrete it before it can cause trouble. In fact, eating three cups of saponin-rich foods weekly is enough to lower your levels of inflammation and your heart disease risk by 25 percent 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 that's also a powerful inflammation tamer, 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, and it also 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). The nutrient also quashes fatigue and increases stamina by 25 percent in one month as it helps your muscles burn food for energy, Japanese studies suggest.

(Remember, though, to 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 these anti-inflammatory foods as effective as aspirin, Harvard experts say. Credit goes to carotenoids, which are 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, and chemical additives are common ingredients that can sneak into some of your meal, encouraging inflammation. Luckily, guarding against them is as easy as eating one clove of garlic or 1/4 cup of onions daily, Canadian researchers say. These anti-inflammatory foods 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 percent, European researchers say.

Time to add some anti-inflammatory foods to your next grocery list!

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