Anti-inflammatory eating

31 Mar 2017
Anti-inflammatory eating
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Silent, chronic, widespread inflammation in the body is now recognised as a key driver for degenerative diseases. And what you eat can either dampen or drive this process—in children and adults alike.

What is anti-inflammatory eating?

An anti-inflamatory diet is more than just adding single foods like turmeric or flaxseeds to your diet. A plant-based dietary pattern comprising unrefined foods (with or without some fish or fish oil) is required to maximally reduce inflammatory markers. Your meals should be focused on a variety of vegetables; fruits; legumes, including soybeans and whole soy foods; intact, cracked or rolled grains; nuts and/or seeds, and herbs and/or spices. 

Diets rich in animal products such as meat are associated with increased inflammation. Refined plant foods such as cakes, biscuits, processed snacks, sugary drinks, white flour and white rice are equally as harmful.

Even cooking methods matter. Certain chemicals are formed when using high and dry cooking temperature methods like barbecuing or grilling, which can fuel inflammation. Steaming, boiling and stewing are best.

Who would benefit?

Research suggests that everyone can benefit by adopting anti-inflammatory eating. This is because inflammation underlies most chronic diseases. While benefits may be obvious for arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, the latest findings suggest targeting inflammation is also important if you or your loved ones have conditions ranging from heart disease and depression to asthma and multiple sclerosis.

Six anti-inflammatory food swaps

Pro-inflammatory food

Anti-inflammatory food

White bread Wholegrain, sourdough, seeded bread
White rice Brown rice, red rice, wild rice
Refined vegetable oils (e.g. safflower or soybean oil) Unrefined oils (e.g. extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil and chia seed oil)
Red meat

Legumes, mushrooms, fish 

Potato chips

Unsalted, unroasted nuts

Lollies and sweet pastries

Dried fruit, dark chocolate

Carrot Recipe

Morrocan-style carrots, sauteed with lemon and cumin

A quick and easy way to dress up carrots for a family dinner or smart meal.

Preparation time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Serves: 6


  • 600 g carrots, peeled, cut into batons
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground hot paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp honey, optional
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander plus extra leaves for garnishing


  1. Rinse soaked beans with water and set aside.
  2. Steam carrots for 5–7 minutes until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large fry-pan and add the whole garlic cloves for a couple of minutes to infuse flavour, then discard garlic.
  4. Remove pan from heat and stir in cumin, paprika, salt and honey.
  5. Toss through the carrots, lemon juice and chopped coriander and place back on the stove to just heat through.
  6. Transfer onto a serving plate and garnish with extra coriander leaves.  
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

TIP: Use parsley instead of coriander for a twist.

PER SERVE: Energy 533 kJ (127 cal). Protein 1 g. Fat 9 g. Saturated fat 1 g. Cholesterol 0 mg. Carbohydrate 8 g. Fibre 4 g. Calcium 39 mg. Iron 0.8 mg. Sodium 233 mg.