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Anti-inflammatory foods you should be eating

While inflammation is the body's natural response to injury, chronic inflammation can lead to health problems.

A number of anti-inflammatory drugs on the market promise to ease our pain and calm angry allergic reactions. While they may provide quick relief, long-term use of some anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs and steroids can actually weaken our immunity or cause unwanted side effects.

"The inflammation process has one goal: to respond immediately, to detect and destroy the toxic material in damaged tissues before it can spread throughout the body," said Dr. Lauren Whitt of the University of Alabama in a release from the university on March 22. "The trouble with inflammation occurs when the defence system gets out-of-control and begins to destroy healthy tissue, causing more damage than the original issue."

Nature has provided us with many anti-inflammatory foods which work with negligible adverse reaction and also have a great taste. Besides their abilities to reduce inflammation, they also supply us with loads of essential vitamins and minerals that boost our immune health.

Mr. Whitt added that the right anti-inflammatory foods are one way of targeting the problem. Here are a few items to consider adding to your shopping list:

Virgin olive oil is Mediterranean’s secret to longevity. Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Salmon is an excellent source of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two potent omega-3 fatty acids that douse inflammation. The benefits of omega-3 have been backed by numerous studies and they range from preventing heart disease and some cancers to reducing symptoms of autoimmune diseases and psychological disorders. Be sure to include some oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon in your diet twice a week.

Enjoyed by the Chinese and the Japanese since ancient times, shiitake mushroom is revered for its immune-boosting properties and its mild smoky taste.

The flavonoids in the green tea are natural anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Blueberry is high in phytonutrients that confer anti-inflammatory protection against many diseases such as cancer and dementia.

Citrus fruits - vitamin C and vitamin E are some essential antioxidants.

Tomatoes - the fruit's red pigment, lycopene, is a potent antioxidant.

Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane which helps the body to get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds.