Are you looking for a comprehensive printable anti-inflammatory foods list (PDF)? Just click the link, and you can download and print this helpful list for making the anti-inflammatory diet work for you.
The list includes some fast food options that are less inflammatory because sometimes fast food is real life.
The anti-inflammatory food list is divided by food groups and includes herbs and spices.
Keep reading to learn more about the research that inspired this list and which foods can reduce inflammation, prevent disease, and stabilize chronic conditions.
Purpose of Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Anti-inflammatory diets help reduce chronic inflammation in the body.
There are over 30,000 peer-reviewed articles studying the relationship between diet, inflammation, and health. Health professionals recognize that low-grade, chronic whole-body inflammation is associated with most chronic diseases.
Association means there is some type of relationship between the foods and the development or progression of chronic diseases.
It does not mean that foods alone can prevent or cause these diseases. Diet is one piece of the lifestyle modification puzzle that helps.
Some chronic diseases associated with inflammation:
- Diabetes or Insulin Resistance
- Heart Disease
- Some Cancers (colorectal, tobacco-related, and prostate)
- Bone Health (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and fractures)
- Mental Health and Depression
What you eat can increase or reduce your whole-body inflammatory status. Some diets are pro-inflammatory (increase inflammation), and other eating patterns reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory).
Many diets, including the Mediterranean Diet, DASH Diet, vegetarian or plant-based diet, and MIND diet, contain primarily anti-inflammatory foods. Research finds that these diets are effective in reducing inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory Scores for Foods
There is no set definition for an anti-inflammatory diet or agreed-upon food list. However, there are ways to score (or grade) a diet to determine its ability to reduce inflammation.
Quick note: Inflammation is measured in the body using high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) scores. Your liver makes more CRP in response to inflammation. There are physical signs and symptoms of inflammation, but these scoring methods primarily look at CRP levels.
My intent in sharing these scoring systems is not to label foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ but to recognize that an overall balance of more anti-inflammatory foods will help you feel better. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and can help fuel your body.
Types of Anti-Inflammatory Scoring Methods
Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII)
In response to the extensive research linking diet to inflammation, a Dietary Inflammatory Index was developed to guide overall eating patterns that affect inflammation. The DII looks at a wider range of people and diets and their potential to reduce inflammation.
The DII is a complicated research index that calculates the inflammatory level of someone’s diet. It doesn’t assign scores to specific foods.
Traditional Diet Scoring
Other traditional diet scoring methods exist, including DASH, the Healthy Eating Index, and the Mediterranean Dietary Index. These are focused on following a specific diet or guidelines.
Dietary Inflammation Scores (DIS)
Another scoring tool, Dietary Inflammation Scores, looks directly at food groups and the ability of whole foods to affect markers of inflammation in the body. Instead of looking at a diet’s vitamin and mineral content, actual foods are evaluated. The higher the score, the more anti-inflammatory the food!
This is great news! No complicated calculations. It’s just a straightforward anti-inflammatory food list based on the DIS. Use this printable food list to design a custom anti-inflammatory diet for you.
Printable Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food List (PDF)
The following list is divided into groups based on the DIS research. They categorized foods based on their similar antioxidant mixture and the research supporting their anti-inflammatory effect.
Foods to avoid are listed at the end due to their increased risk of inflammation. Click here to download your free printable list of anti-inflammatory foods.
|Vegetable Types||Foods||Beneficial Effects|
|Tomatoes||Tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salsa||Contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant.|
|Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables||Kale, spinach, lettuce (iceberg, head, romaine, or leaf), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, parsley, watercress||Contain many potent antioxidants (beta-carotene, folacin, magnesium, calcium, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, lutein, and indoles); contain flavonoids and polyphenols.|
|Deep yellow or orange vegetables and fruit||Cantaloupe, peaches, carrots, dark yellow or orange squash, figs||Contain carotenoids, which are strong antioxidants|
|Other vegetables||Okra, green peppers, onions, zucchini, and eggplant||Contain antioxidants and polyphenols|
|Fruit Types||Foods||Beneficial Effects|
|Apples and berries||Fresh apples, pears, apple juice or cider, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries||Contain flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants (anthocyanins, quercetin, and phenolic acids).|
|Other fruits and real fruit juices in limited amounts||Pineapples, honeydew, grapes, kiwi, watermelon, lemon, grapefruit, and oranges, orange juice, grapefruit juice, grape juice, and other real fruit juice||Contain lots of antioxidants (flavonoids, such as hesperidin, naringenin, neohesperidin, limonene, vitamin C, plant sterols, beta-cryptoxanthin, salicylates, naringin, nobelitin, and narirutin).|
|Protein Types||Foods||Beneficial Effects|
|Poultry||Chicken or turkey with and without skin||Associated with reduced inflammation. Low in saturated fat and contains l-arginine, which helps prevent plaque build-up in the arteries.|
|Fish||Tuna fish, salmon, other light and dark meat fish, breaded fish cakes or fish sticks||Contain omega-3 fats, which compete with proinflammatory omega-6 fats and reduce inflammation.|
|Nuts||Peanut butter, peanuts, other nuts||Contain omega-3 fats and l-arginine.|
|High-fat and low-fat dairy||Whole, 2%, 1%, skim milk, cream, high-fat and low-fat ice cream, high-fat and low-fat yogurt, cream cheese, high-fat and low-fat cheeses,low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese||Contains calcium, which binds bile acids and fat, decreasing inflammatory damage in the gut; dairy fat contains fatty acids with potential inflammation-reducing properties|
|Legumes||String beans, peas, lima beans, lentils, and other beans (excluding soybeans)||Contain folacin, iron, isoflavones, protein, vitamin B6, and have high antioxidant levels. Rich in fiber, beneficial to the gut microbiota, reducing immune response in the gut.|
|Beverage Types||Examples||Beneficial Effects|
|Coffee||Coffee (decaffeinated and regular)||Coffee contains phytochemicals and antioxidants, such as javamide.|
|Tea||Herbal and non-herbal tea||Tea contains flavonoids and antioxidants (epicatechin and quercetin).|
Both coffee and tea contain varying amounts of caffeine, which reduces inflammatory production.
Pro-Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
|Protein Types||Foods||Negative Effects|
|Red and organ meats||Hamburger, beef, pork, lamb, liver, gizzards, and other organ meats||Contain heme iron, which in excess causes inflammation. Contain omega-6 fats, which stimulates inflammation. Contain saturated fats that increase inflammation in the gut and colon.|
|Processed meats||Bacon, beef or pork hotdogs, chicken or turkey hot dogs, salami, bologna, other processed meats||Contains heme iron, higher saturated fat, omega-6 fats, and additives like nitrites, with inflammatory effects.|
A large prospective study including 134,297 adults found no significant associations between unprocessed red meat and death or heart disease. Processed meat was associated with higher death rates, cancer, and heart disease.
The DIS research put red and organ meats with a slight inflammatory rating. Whereas processed meat was associated strongly with inflammatory effects.
If you enjoy red meat, try to choose unprocessed beef. I recommend grass-fed, pasture-raised beef for its increased vitamin A and E content and antioxidant levels compared to grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and has more omega-3 than omega-6 fats.
Grass-fed beef is typically more expensive. Try reducing your beef intake to once a week (or less) and this might provide some wiggle room in your food budget and ensure you eat a variety of protein sources (like fish, nuts, and poultry).
Fats and Added Sugar
|Other fats||Mayonnaise, margarine, butter, and vegetable oil||Contain omega-6 and saturated fats, which increase inflammation.|
|Added sugars||Sugar-sweetened soda, punch, lemonade, chocolate candy bars, mixed candy bars, non-chocolate candy, jams, jellies, preserves, syrup or honey, dried or canned fruit with sugar||Lack nutrients; cause high blood sugar, which causes repeated inflammation. Increase inflammatory fat levels and inflammation in all body systems.|
Refined Grains and Starchy Vegetables
|Refried Grains||Cold and cooked breakfast cereal, white or dark processed low-fiber bread, bagels, English muffins, rolls, cornbread, white rice, pasta, pancakes, waffles, crackers, tortillas, popcorn, pretzels, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, cake, pie, sweet rolls, coffee cakes, granola bars||Some processed grains contain emulsifiers, which potentially break down mucin in the gut leading to inflammation.|
Lack nutrients; cause high blood sugar similiar to added sugar which causes repeated inflammation. Increase inflammatory fat levels and inflammation in all body systems.
|Starchy Vegetables||Potatoes (french fried, scalloped, baked, boiled or mashed), sweet potato/yams, and potato chips||Cause high blood sugar and, when repeated, increases inflammation. Adding sugar or fats promotes inflammation.|
Of note, starchy vegetables can be a wonderful addition to your diet. Sweet potatoes and yams have anti-inflammatory properties!
The yellow variety contains carotenoids and fiber which help protect the body against chronic disease. A purple sweet potato contains anthocyanin (another antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation).
Preparation matters, so avoid frying, loading with sugar or marshmallows, or adding large amounts of fat to maintain anti-inflammatory benefits.
Anti-Inflammatory Spices and Herbs
The DIS research included no spices or herbs that reduce inflammation. Research from the DII lists anti-inflammatory components of a diet mostly focusing on macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
However, some spices and herbs are singled out for their anti-inflammatory effect on the DII! These are listed from highest to lowest for their anti-inflammatory strength.
Less Inflammatory Healthier Fast Food Options
Overall, fast food options are inflammatory. Remember, fried foods, added sugars, added fats, low-fiber white bread, tortillas, processed meats, fried potatoes, and sugary beverages or desserts increase inflammation.
Additionally, most fast-food restaurants lack or have limited fruits and vegetables. Making a less inflammatory choice when eating fast food can be challenging.
I aim to provide real-life options for making fast food work for you. Think about your food choices over the past week compared to each day. That will help you to balance man excellentflammatory foods with inflammatory ones.
Sometimes, you want the inflammatory option at fast food, and that’s okay. For myself, I chose fries with my fast food salad. Just incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods the rest of the week! You can also take the fast food home and add some fruit or vegetables
|Chick-fil-A||Greek Yogurt Parfait with Granola|
Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Multigrain Bun with Lettuce and Tomato
Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap
Cobb Salad with grilled chicken
Spicy Southwest Salad with grilled chicken
Market Salad with grilled chicken
Kale Crunch Side
Buddy Fruits Apple Sauce
Unsweetened Iced Tea
Black Coffee1% Milk
|Taco Bell||Chipotle Ranch Grilled Chicken Burrito (Fresco and Light Sauce)|
Fiesta Veggie Burrito
Black BeansPower Menu Bowl (cheese and ranch sauce on the side to add less)
Unsweetened Iced Tea
|Starbucks||Rolled & Steel-Cut Oatmeal|
Cheese & Fruit Protein Box
Eggs & Cheddar Protein Box
Herbal and Hot Unsweetened Teas
Teavana Sparkling Unsweetened Peach Nectarine Green Tea
|Wendy’s||All Fresh-Made Salads (except Taco Salad)|
Grilled Chicken Wrap
Plain Baked Potato
Unsweetened Iced Tea
|Chipotle||Burrito Bowl (Chicken, Steak, or Veggie, Brown Rice, Black or Pinto Beans, All Salsas, Fajita Veggies, Romaine Lettuce, Cheese and Guacamole) |
All Lifestyle Bowls
Salad (Chicken, Steak, or Veggie, Brown Rice, Black or Pinto Beans, All Salsas, Fajita Veggies, Romaine Lettuce, Cheese and Guacamole)
San Pellegrino Sparkling Water
Topo Chico Mineral Water
|Subway||No Bready Bowls (Grilled or Rotisserie-Style Chicken, Oven-Roasted Turkey, or Tuna)|
Wraps (Veggie Delite, Grilled or Rotisserie-Style Chicken, Oven-Roasted Turkey, or Tuna)
Salads (Veggie Delite, Grilled or Rotisserie-Style Chicken, Oven-Roasted Turkey, or Tuna)
Tips for Adding Anti-Inflammatory Foods in Your Diet
Remember to focus on progress, not perfection! Progress each meal adds up. Focus on what makes sense.
Choose anti-inflammatory foods that look appealing to you. If you love tomatoes and didn’t realize they were anti-inflammatory, try adding more tomatoes to your diet!
- Print the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food List and highlight all the foods you already like. Focus on eating more of those. If you like them, it will be easier to do!
- A simple tip for increasing your fruits and veggies is to aim for a half-plate in whatever form (raw or cooked) at each meal.
- Replace sugary beverages with anti-inflammatory options like hot or cold unsweetened tea or coffee.
- Start the day with an anti-inflammatory-rich breakfast. Make a smoothie with frozen or fresh fruit, kefir or low-added sugar yogurt, and flaxseed.
- Consider changing to anti-inflammatory or neutral protein options like chicken and turkey, nuts, nut butter, beans, unsweetened yogurt, and small amounts of unprocessed red meat.
- Experiment with anti-inflammatory spices and herbs in your meals.
- Use snacks as an opportunity to eat fruits or vegetables instead of inflammatory chips, crackers, candy, or sweets.
Get your free printable anti-inflammatory foods list (PDF) and highlight the foods you want to try or already eat regularly.
This list will help you follow the anti-inflammatory diet for everyone in your house. The fast food section will help when you need quick options.
I hope this deep dive into anti-inflammatory foods, spices, and herbs will help you to make impactful changes in your life.
Or check out my article on how the anti-inflammatory diet reduces colds and ear infections in toddlers and children with two anti-inflammatory breakfast recipes.
Let’s get UNstuck and stay UNstuck!