As the colder weather sets in every year, many of us start focusing on what we can do to protect our physical and mental health throughout the winter. The anti-inflammatory diet is generally regarded as a great way to boost health and well-being, but what exactly is it and what recipes can you use while sticking to it?
If you’re thinking of following an anti-inflammatory diet this winter, we’re here to take you through the basics.
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
There’s no single anti-inflammatory diet, it’s more of a general approach to food and nutrition. Anti-inflammatory foods are nutrient-rich whole foods that fight inflammation in the body. These types of foods are full of important things that the body needs for the immune system such as Omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber.
The anti-inflammatory diet is similar to a Mediterranean diet and should include lots of fresh and colorful ingredients. Foods that include anti-inflammatory properties include:
- leafy greens and veggies
- olive oil
- bell pepper
- cashews (in small quantities)
- sweet potato
- butternut squash
- green tea
- whole grains like brown rice and quinoa
If in doubt, remember that natural and fresh ingredients tend to make the cut when it comes to anti-inflammatory recipes whereas processed and refined foods do not.
What benefits are there to an anti-inflammatory diet?
The anti-inflammatory diet supports healthy eating in general and offers a well-balanced diet. However, there are some studies that suggest that it can help specific ailments and health conditions.
Some studies show that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and beans can reduce the risk of dementia later in life. Others suggest that an anti-inflammatory diet could also help to reduce the risk of cancer. There is also evidence to suggest that a balanced anti-inflammatory diet could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (but please make sure to monitor blood glucose when consuming foods high in sugar). So, while diet may not be the only contributing factor to these diseases and health conditions, growing evidence suggests that following a healthier diet can reduce chronic inflammation and minimize your risk of developing some serious illnesses.
How to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet during winter
When it’s dark, cold, and rainy it’s tempting to seek comfort in junk food. However, in order to feel the health benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s important to stick to it throughout the colder months.
When it comes to anti-inflammatory recipes, variety is your best friend. Mixing things up and keeping things interesting will help you to stick to a healthier and more balanced diet over the long winter months. Of course, if you have some favorite go-to recipes, that can be handy too, especially if you’re looking for a comforting winter warmer.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some dinner recipes that offer something a little bit extra in the winter.
Anti-Inflammatory Winter Recipes and Meal Ideas
Anti-inflammatory soup recipe
Soups are a great way to get lots of different nutrients into the body in one go. They’re also great to cook in big batches for meal prep or to freeze for a quick and easy weeknight fix. And, as an added plus, they offer some nice and comforting warmth during winter.
The other great thing about soups is that you can play around with different flavors and ingredients. Just pop some vegetables into a broth, add some fresh herbs and spices, and finish off with some beans and legumes. You can mix and match until you find your favorite or experiment with new flavors every time.
Some of our favorite soup combinations include:
- Curried sweet potato and peanut soup
- Mediterranean chicken and chickpea soup
- Lentil, carrot & potato soup
Turmeric cauliflower rice
Turmeric is widely regarded as a bit of a super spice and has long been included in many diets for its healing properties. Add some cauliflower, cumin, coconut oil, paprika, black pepper, and fresh cilantro to the mix and you’ve got a delicious powerhouse of health in a bowl! Serve as a side dish with a chicken recipe or add some chickpeas for a protein-rich vegetarian option.
Anti-inflammatory recipes for the slow cooker
Slow cookers are a great way to make great food with minimal effort. Just pop a bunch of ingredients into a pot, leave for several hours and enjoy the delicious results.
There are many different healthy recipes that you can bring to life in a slow cooker. These include:
- Shakshuka (eggs, chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, and an array of delicious herbs and spices)
- Moroccan spiced chicken stew (chicken, sweet potato, and chickpeas)
- Citrus salmon with melted leeks
Anti-inflammatory salad inspiration
If you fancy something light and easy, then a salad is a great option. Much like our other recipes and meal prep ideas, you can experiment with different combinations until you find what you prefer.
Great base options for salads include leafy greens like:
- mixed greens
Protein additions can include:
- canned tuna
- boiled egg
Once you have these salad staples, you can play around with different vegetables and even add some fruit for a different flavor sensation (diabetic patients should monitor blood glucose levels carefully when adding fruits and other foods high in sugar into their diet). Some great fruit and vegetable options include:
- sweet potatoes
- bell peppers
- berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries)
Some of our favorite anti-inflammatory salad combinations include:
- Salmon walnut and beet
- Avocado watermelon, and cucumber
- Kale, beets, blueberries, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, and ginger
- Greek salad
- Warm chicken and mango
There’s an endless list of possibilities when it comes to salads so you can have fun playing with the different combinations. Remember to mix and match different leafy greens, get creative with fruit, and play with different textures. Don’t forget that you can also add hot vegetables, proteins, or fruit if you fancy something a little bit warmer for winter.
Get Creative with Anti-Inflammatory Food
Whether you’re striving for weight loss, want to give your immune system a boost, or looking to reduce your risk of heart disease, an anti-inflammatory diet is a great way to fill your body with healthy and nutrient-rich foods. But, the best thing about an anti-inflammatory diet is that it allows a broad range of delicious foods, so don’t be afraid to get creative, try new things, and enjoy some delicious new combinations!
- Mayo Clinic: The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the moment
- American Academy of Neurology: A new study shows that developing dementia later in life
- American Institute for Cancer Research: Can an anti inflammatory diet reduce cancer risk
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet in People with Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Study
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Turmeric