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If you want to lose weight, an excellent place to start is by making changes in your diet. And one of those changes should be to eat more anti-inflammatory foods.
Although research suggests that inflammation may not cause weight gain, those who are overweight and obese do have higher levels of chronic, low-grade inflammation compared to those with lower BMIs. That’s likely because being overweight is associated with higher levels of fat cells that release pro-inflammatory markers. This chronic inflammation can put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, neurodegeneration, and some types of cancer, so it’s important to get a handle on inflammation—and your weight—to reduce the risk of these health issues.
While regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower chronic inflammation, reducing calorie intake and following a healthy diet can also reduce inflammation, according to a review published in Cureus. To do that, it’s important to address the foods in your diet that can cause inflammation (and are sneakily making it more challenging for you to shed pounds). It’s also crucial to introduce some of the best anti-inflammatory foods for weight loss into your regular meals pronto.
Getting a handle on inflammation is a surefire way to get back on track with your weight loss efforts. That’s why we chatted with experts who break down the go-to anti-inflammatory foods for weight loss. Keep reading to learn all about them, and when you’re finished, be sure to check out the 10 Best Superfood Snacks to Strip Away Belly Fat.
Blueberries receive a stamp of approval from Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, a nutritionist in private practice, and a member of our Medical Expert Board. “Blueberries are a great choice for weight loss as they reduce inflammation and prevent weight gain,” Young tells us. “They are low in calories and high in fiber, which helps promote satiety and reduce overeating. Its nutrient content supports overall health and weight loss goals, including antioxidants present which help assist in reducing belly fat.”
Salmon is an excellent source of protein that supports your weight loss efforts since it offers omega-3 fatty acids that help decrease inflammation. “Its high protein content helps boost satiety and regulates appetite while still maintaining muscle mass during the weight loss journey,” Young points out. Salmon contains plenty of nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium.
In addition, according to Laura Burak MS, RD, the founder of GetNaked® Nutrition, author of Slim Down with Smoothies, and a member of our Medical Expert Board, protein-packed foods such as salmon, poultry, and eggs are stellar examples of anti-inflammatory foods, as they call for more energy from your body during the digestion process, therefore speeding up your metabolic rate. “Proteins are a double whammy when it comes to health and weight loss/maintenance because they not only have a higher [thermic effect of food] (TEF), but proteins also keep you the most satiated so you stay fuller longer.”
Burak adds, “Fish oil from wild sources like salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, can possibly slow down aging by preventing inflammation.”
Green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, and cabbage are chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, folate, iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, and magnesium. “Antioxidants present help reduce inflammation, and high fiber content helps regulate appetite for weight loss,” Young tells us. “They are relatively low in calories thus consumption will not contribute to excess calories in the diet.”
Walnuts are nutrient-dense; these tasty, crunchy bites offer fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats. “[The] presence of omega-3 fatty acids [in walnuts] helps reduce inflammation in the body to prevent weight gain,” Young says. “Its high fiber and protein content helps increase satiety and reduce appetite to prevent overeating. Healthy fats present have anti-inflammatory properties and raise good cholesterol levels, which promotes heart health.”
Another one of the best anti-inflammatory foods for weight loss from Young? Tomatoes! “Tomatoes are packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, potassium, and folate, which promote overall health,” she tells us. “[Tomatoes are] rich in lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and support weight loss goals. They are low in calories and high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which contributes to feelings of fullness and aids digestion.”
Nuts and seeds are a quick, incredibly healthy grab-and-go option for the busy lifestyle. You can also seamlessly add them into no-fuss snacks and meals. They don’t call for refrigeration or prep work.
“Popping a handful of nuts or seeds gives you everything you need to not only stabilize your blood sugar and hold you over between meals (which prevents overeating later), but they’re a portable perfect food naturally containing all three macros—carbs, protein, and fat,” Burak explains. “You can’t say that about many foods that are both delicious and super healthy. Carry an individual pack of nuts in your bag, and protect yourself before hanger strikes.”
It’s time to spice things up in your diet—quite literally. Spicy/hot foods like chili peppers and hot sauce can reduce inflammation. “Some research shows that spicy foods like hot sauce may temporarily increase your metabolic rate due to capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers,” Burak explains. “If you love it, I recommend adding hot sauce to any food! It not only tastes delicious and enhances the flavor of bland food, but it basically has no calories for a giant boost of flavor and palatability in your dishes.”
When it comes to health benefits, avocados are chock-full of them. As a matter of fact, Burak points out, “No matter what health benefit I am being asked about when it comes to a healthier diet, I guarantee that I will recommend adding more avocados in any way, shape, or form. If I could pick any food to be the superhero, it would be avocados.” She adds, “Not only are avocados one of the tastiest foods on the planet in my opinion, they’re full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. They keep you full and satisfied, and just a few slices will take a plain salad or sandwich to a whole other level of satisfaction and happiness to prevent you from feeling hungry later which often results in eating excess snacks and sugar.”
Burak suggests dicing up an avocado and adding it to a freshly tossed salad or tacos, or considering mashing one up to prepare a tasty guacamole you can dip veggies into.