By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
As you may already know, inflammation is one of number one causes of disease, with chronic illnesses also infamous for promoting inflammation in our bodies. While there are many things in our environments (chemicals, plastics and pesticides) that can cause inflammation, there are also plenty of foods that help fight inflammation. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often richer in nutrients than those raised on conventional farms and shipped around the world, since the distance from farm to table is shorter. Plus, seasonal and local produce also tends to be less expensive to purchase than similar produce (like organic) from larger farms and often are produced with less harmful pesticides and chemicals.
Here are nine anti-inflammatory seasonal fruits and veggies you should be eating this summer—look for them at your local farmers market.
Cauliflower is a favorite summer veggie of mine—it’s delicious and can be used in a number of ways, but it’s also great because of the nutrients it contains. For example, cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which may be anti-inflammatory and also contains sulforaphane that is a sulfur containing compound that may help to slow tumor growth.
Try this: Curry Vegetables with Cauliflower Rice
Tomatoes are a refreshing, hydrating and tasty summer fruit. (You may think of tomatoes as being a vegetable, but technically because of its seeds, it’s classified as a veggie.) Tomatoes are great because they also contain so many awesome nutrients like anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory lycopene (although remember that tomatoes need to be cooked for your body to be able to use the lycopene here), and quercitin which is a nutrient that may also help to reduce inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis.
Try this: Roasted Balsamic Glazed Tomatoes.
Broccoli is another yummy summer favorite that’s also packed with healthy nutrients that are both great for digestion and are also anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. Broccoli contains kaempferol, which may help to lessen the impact of allergy related substances on the body. The cruciferous veggie also contains isothiocyanates that are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory.
Try this: Chopped Broccoli Salad with Roasted Garlic Aioli.
Garlic is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and also a plant that I find many people are afraid to consume on a regular basis (ahem, bad breath), however it’s really something that you should be eating whenever you can! Garlic is rich in a nutrient called alicin that is both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, and garlic may also contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties too, so it can help to ward those summer colds away.
Try this: Beet and Red Cabbage Slaw with Garlic Aioli.
Beets are a tasty and classic summer favorite that’s loaded with healthy nutrients like the anti-inflammatory compounds anthocyanin and betalain. (Betalain may also have fungicide compounds and detoxification properties, too.)
Try this: Beet Burger (great for lunch or dinner)
Strawberries are another sweet favorite in the summertime (and all the time!), and they’re also super good for you as well. Strawberries contain anthocyanin—an anti-inflammatory nutrient. For anyone concerned with skin health, it’s a good source of vitamin C as well, which may help to promote collagen production. I love strawberries on a salad in the summertime or even as a snack on their own.
Try this: Arugula Strawberry Salad with Divine Green Dressing
Bell peppers are a seasonal fruit (due to their seeds again—although I consider them more of a veggie due to their lower sugar content) and come in all sorts of shapes and colors. The red ones in particular are a source of quercitin that may help to reduce inflammation that may be linked to rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other nutrients like vitamins A and C that are also important for so many other functions in our bodies.
Try this: Sun Burst Juice
Apricots are another delicious and seasonal summer fruit packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients, like beta-cryptoxanthin that may help to reduce inflammation overall, and specifically inflammation that’s related to arthritis. Apricots are also a source of heart-healthy magnesium that’s also involved in muscle contraction and relaxation and may also help to ease pain.
Cherries are a tasty summer fruit that are fun to eat and adored by your body. Tart cherries contain anthocyanin, which may help to reduce muscle soreness. Research has also found it may be helpful in reducing gout flares. The anthocyanin in sweet cherries may also help to reduce C-reactive protein—an inflammatory marker.
Try this: Eat cherries as a snack all on their own. Or, use them to make an Anti-inflammatory Cherry Chia Smoothie.