What You Need to Know About CRP—and Simple Ways to Reduce It

Eating fiber-rich foods like beans may help lower a potential marker for heart disease.

bean, corn, tomato and avocado salad

Updated on September 14, 2022.

Did you know that you may be able to reduce your blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—a possible indicator of heart disease risk—by adding a few servings of fiber-filled beans to your menu each week? 

CRP is a blood marker that indicates the presence of inflammation in the body. Inflammation occurs in response to harm, such as from an injury, bacterial infection, cancer, heart disease, or an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis.

CRP and heart disease

Several studies have shown that a high level of CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In fact, the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assign cardiovascular risk groupings (whether high, medium, or low) to certain patients based on a type of testing called high-sensitivity CRP, or hsCRP. 

Cardiovascular disease is linked to inflammation of the arteries. But it’s unclear whether CRP levels alone can predict cardiovascular disease. That’s because CRP is nonspecific, meaning CRP blood levels only indicate the presence of inflammation. They don’t necessarily describe where it’s located in the body. 

What’s a normal CRP level?

If you get your CRP levels tested, your healthcare provider will tell you if your levels are in a normal range or too high. Typically, CRP ranges are grouped as follows:

  • Normal: less than 0.3 mg/dL. Many adults have a CRP level that falls within this range.
  • Slightly elevated: 0.3 to 1.0 mg/dL. People with depression, diabetes, minor infections, or those who smoke, are obese, or are pregnant may have CRP levels that fall within this range. People with CRP levels under 1.0 mg/dL are considered at low risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Moderately elevated: 1.0 to 10.0 mg/dL. People with autoimmune diseases, pancreatitis, cancers, bronchitis, or those who have had a heart attack may have CRP levels that fall within this range. Levels between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/dL are assigned a moderate cardiovascular risk grouping and values over 3.0 mg/dL are considered high risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Significantly elevated: 10 to 50 mg/dL. People with viral or bacterial infections or who have experienced major trauma, like being in a serious car accident or fall, may have CRP levels that fall within this range.
  • Severely elevated: more than 50 mg/dL. Those with acute bacterial infections may have CRP levels that fall within this range.

While a CRP test cannot identify where inflammation is occurring, knowing your CRP range can give your provider clues as to what the underlying cause may be. 

Can you reduce CRP through diet?

Regardless of a CRP test’s ability to indicate a certain disease, eating a high-fiber diet is associated with lower CRP levels and reduced heart disease risk. According to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, everyone should aim to eat an average of 25 grams of fiber each day. But upwards of 90 percent of women and 97 percent of men do not get the recommended amount.

How can you boost your daily intake of fiber to help reduce inflammation and potentially lower CRP? 

Fiber is present in a variety of grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, as well as beans and legumes. Black beans, in particular, have a sizable 7.5 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup serving. You can add them to soups, salads, and side dishes to boost your fiber intake. Include fiber-rich foods in your diet and you’re on your way to reducing your CRP and improving your overall heart health.

Article sources open article sources

Nehring SM, Goyal A & Patel, BC. C reactive protein. In: StatPearls. NCBI Bookshelf version. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. 
Ma Y, Griffith JA, et al. Association between dietary fiber and serum C-reactive protein. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006;83(4): 760–766. 
Chen L, Deng H, et al. Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs. Oncotarget. 2017; 9(6): 7204–7218. 
Polyakova EA, & Mikhaylov EN. The prognostic role of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology. 2020;17(7): 379–383. 
Dawood FZ, Judd S, et al. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein and Risk of Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation (from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study). The American Journal of Cardiology. 2016;118(12):1826–1830. 
Ying-yi L. & Yong-ming Y. The clinical significance and potential role of C-Reactive protein in chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018; 9. 
Nehring SM, Goyal A, et al. C Reactive Protein. In: StatPearls. NCBI Bookshelf version. StatPearls Publishing;  Updated July 18, 2022.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test. December 3, 2020. 
Ajani UA, Ford ES, et al.. Dietary fiber and C-reactive protein: findings from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data. The Journal of Nutrition. 2004; 134(5): 1181–1185. 
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. 
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food sources of dietary fiber. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.
MedlinePlus. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test. Last updated December 3, 2020.

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