What diet can I follow to reduce inflammation and the risk for disease?

Cathy Clark-Reyes, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
To get the most nutritional benefits from your diet, and to help reduce inflammation and the risk for disease, fill your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Inflammation is linked to a variety of health conditions, including autoimmune disorders, joint pain and heart disease. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables provide you with protection from inflammation.

Here’s a quick color guide with a sampling of the phytochemicals (nutrients) linked to each group:
  • Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, mangoes, and pumpkin contain alfa and beta-carotene. These phytochemicals neutralize free radicals, which are associated with cell damage.
  • Green fruits and vegetables such as spinach, avocado, collard and turnip greens contain lutein. Lutein helps to maintain healthy vision.
  • Red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon contain lycopene, which can help reduce the risks of prostate cancer.
  • Red and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins and polyphenols. Some examples are berries, grapes, red wine, and plums. These can help neutralize free radicals, as well as cutting the risk for cancer. Polyphenols can also reduce the risk of heart and eye disease.
  • White and green fruits and vegetables such as leeks, onion, garlic, chives, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts contain allyl sulfides. These can boost the immune system and lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.
When it comes to green vegetables, darker colors deliver more nutrients. So if you have a choice between an iceberg and romaine lettuce, select the darker romaine leaves. At least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day are recommended, and seven to nine servings if you are battling cancer or undergoing chemotherapy treatments. And remember to fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. If your plate is all white or brown, that’s a problem.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

General guidelines to reduce inflammation and the risk for disease:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts
  • Eat plenty of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat
  • Eat lean protein sources such as beans, lentils, legumes, soy products, chicken; cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods
  • Minimize saturated and trans fats
  • Avoid refined foods and processed foods
  • Alcohol in moderation
  • Add a variety of spices, especially ginger and curry


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.