17 Best Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables To Reduce Inflammation

Here is a list of the 17 Best Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables that you can eat regularly to reduce inflammation. These vegetables are great for increasing your energy levels, lowering fatigue, and curbing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

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List of the best anti inflammatory vegetables

Benefits of eating anti-inflammatory vegetables

The field of nutritional research has shed a great deal of light on the significance of consuming a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, herbs, spices, and fruits. Phytochemicals, or phytonutrients, are a type of nutrients that are only found in plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Phytochemicals are bioactive substances found in plants that provide them with their bright colors and distinct flavors.

Phytochemicals support health in a variety of ways, such as by boosting immunity, supporting healthy hormone balance, and building healthy tissues and skin. Examples of phytochemicals include lutein, indoles, carotenes, lycopene, anthocyanins, resveratrol, allyl sulfides, and anthoxanthins.

Apart from phytochemicals, vegetables are also a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent diseases by getting rid of free radicals, which are harmful chemicals made by the body’s metabolism that cause cells, tissues, and organs to break down.

Flavonoids, polyphenols, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, manganese, beta-carotene, carotenoids, phytoestrogens, coenzyme Q10, and glutathione are all examples of antioxidants.

Asparagus

Asparagus is another vegetable known for its anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its rich composition of various bioactive compounds. Here’s what contributes to the anti-inflammatory nature of asparagus:

  • Saponins: Asparagus contains saponins, which are compounds known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Saponins can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are signaling molecules that promote inflammation.
  • Antioxidants: As with many vegetables, asparagus is high in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the flavonoids quercetin, isorhamnetin, and kaempferol. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress and consequently lowering inflammation.
  • Rutin: Asparagus contains rutin, a flavonoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Rutin can help strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamin K: This vitamin, found abundantly in asparagus, has been linked to reducing inflammatory markers in the body.
  • Folate: Asparagus is a good source of folate (vitamin B9), which has various health benefits, including potential anti-inflammatory effects. Folate has been shown to lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is a chemical that makes you more likely to get heart disease, cancer, and lose your memory.
  • Glutathione: Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that is composed of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamine, and glycine, and it plays several key roles in the body, including in the regulation of inflammation. It keeps the immune system strong, makes blood vessels stronger, and shields cells from the harm that free radicals in the body do through oxidative stress.

Arugula

Arugula is considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, much like other leafy green vegetables. Here are some of the key components in arugula that contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects:

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Arugula is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and potassium. It has been shown that these nutrients help the body’s natural defenses against illness and strengthen the immune system, helping to reduce inflammation. When digested, arugula releases isothiocyanates, which are protective against cancer.
  • Antioxidants: Arugula contains several antioxidants, such as alpha-lipoic acid and glucosinolates, which are known for their ability to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, a key contributor to inflammation. Researchers have found that the glucosinolates in arugula make it less likely that you will get breast, prostate, lung, or colon cancer.
  • Flavonoids and Phytochemicals: Arugula is high in flavonoids and other phytochemicals such as kaempferol and isorhamnetin, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds inhibit inflammatory pathways and the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body. This can be particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases. There is evidence suggesting that kaempferol and isorhamnetin may have anti-cancer properties. They can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in various types of cancer cells.
  • Dietary Nitrates: Like beets, arugula is also a good source of dietary nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps to relax and dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow and potentially reducing inflammation.
  • Sulforaphane: This compound, found in cruciferous vegetables like arugula, is known for its anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. Sulforaphane can inhibit enzymes that trigger inflammation and oxidative stress.

Beets

Beets possess anti-inflammatory properties primarily due to their high content of phytonutrients, particularly a group of pigments called betalains. Here’s how these components contribute to the anti-inflammatory action of beets:

  • Betalains: The most notable anti-inflammatory compounds in beets are betalains, which include betanin and vulgaxanthin. These compounds give beets their vibrant red and yellow colors. Betalains are known for their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They help reduce inflammation by inhibiting certain enzymes and signaling pathways that trigger inflammation in the body.
  • Antioxidant Properties: The antioxidant content in beets, including vitamin C and manganese, also plays a role in their anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress and lead to inflammation. By reducing oxidative stress, antioxidants help lower inflammation.
  • Fiber: While fiber is generally known for its benefits in digestive health, it also has indirect anti-inflammatory effects. A diet high in fiber can promote a healthy gut microbiome, and a balanced microbiome is linked to reduced inflammation in the body.
  • Nitrates: Beets are high in nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has various beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory actions. It helps in relaxing and dilating blood vessels, thereby reducing vascular inflammation.
  • Polyphenols: Beets also contain other polyphenolic compounds, which have been recognized for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds can modulate the inflammatory response in the body.

Broccoli

Broccoli is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, largely due to its rich content of bioactive compounds. Here’s what makes broccoli a powerful anti-inflammatory food:

  • Sulforaphane: One of the most significant anti-inflammatory compounds in broccoli is sulforaphane, a sulfur-containing compound found in cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane is known to inhibit the activation of NF-kB, a key molecule that triggers the inflammatory process in cells.
  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): This vitamin is a part of the B-complex group and plays a role in the synthesis of coenzyme A, which is important for fatty acid metabolism. Pantothenic acid is found in a variety of foods, including broccoli, and contributes to numerous physiological functions, including the synthesis and breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Beta-Carotene: Broccoli is also a source of beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid that is a precursor to vitamin A. In the body, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which is essential for good vision, immune function, and skin health. Additionally, beta-carotene is an antioxidant that aids in shielding cells from free radical damage.
  • Fiber: Similar to beets, the fiber in broccoli promotes a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut flora is associated with reduced systemic inflammation. Dietary fiber can also help reduce inflammation by influencing body weight and overall health.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Broccoli is a good source of vitamins K and E, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which play various roles in reducing inflammation. Vitamin K, for example, has been shown to directly modulate inflammatory responses.
  • Polyphenols: The polyphenols in broccoli, including quercetin and kaempferol, have anti-inflammatory properties. They modulate the inflammatory process by affecting signaling pathways and the activity of enzymes involved in inflammation.

Broccoli also has a good amount of lutein, which is an antioxidant that is good for your eyes and may also be good for your heart and blood circulation.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts, like other cruciferous vegetables, have several components that contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties:

  • Glucosinolates: Brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds. When consumed, glucosinolates are broken down into bioactive compounds like sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is known for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which enhance liver function..
  • Antioxidants: They are high in antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, kaempferol, and other flavonoids. These antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress and subsequent inflammation.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Brussels sprouts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body.
  • Vitamin K: This vitamin, found abundantly in Brussels sprouts, plays a role in anti-inflammatory responses. Vitamin K is involved in regulating inflammatory processes in the body.
  • Fiber: The dietary fiber in Brussels sprouts can promote a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiota is crucial for maintaining an optimal balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory signals in the body.
  • Folate: Brussels sprouts are a good source of folate (vitamin B9), which has various health benefits, including its role in reducing inflammation.
  • Indoles: These vegetables are rich in indoles, a type of phytonutrient that has anti-cancer properties. Indoles can modulate the NF-κB pathway, a key regulator of the immune response and inflammation. By inhibiting this pathway, indoles can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, such as COX-2 and iNOS, which are involved in the development of cancer. Some indoles, like indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its derivative DIM (diindolylmethane), can modulate hormone metabolism and activity. They have been shown to have effects on estrogen metabolism, which can indirectly impact inflammatory processes.
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Green leafy vegetables like arugula and spinach help to reduce inflammation

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers, with their vibrant colors and sweet flavor, are not only a culinary delight but also a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds. Here’s what contributes to their anti-inflammatory properties:

  • Antioxidants : Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, capsanthin, quercetin, and luteolin can all be found in bell peppers. These antioxidants have been shown to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. Red bell peppers are especially high in beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant that helps prevent lung cancer in those at risk. 
  • High Vitamin C Content: Bell peppers are exceptionally high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in fighting inflammation. Vitamin C helps neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
  • Carotenoids: They are rich in carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These compounds have antioxidant properties, and they help protect cells from oxidative damage. Beta-carotene, in particular, is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Flavonoids: Bell peppers contain various flavonoids, such as quercetin and luteolin, which have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects. These flavonoids can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators.
  • Vitamin E: This vitamin is another antioxidant found in bell peppers. Vitamin E helps in reducing inflammation in the body, particularly in conditions like arthritis.
  • Fiber: The dietary fiber in bell peppers contributes to gut health, which is crucial for reducing systemic inflammation. A healthy gut microbiome plays a significant role in modulating the immune system and inflammatory responses.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is widely recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its rich nutritional profile. Here’s what contributes to its anti-inflammatory effects:

  • Rich in Antioxidants: Cauliflower is packed with antioxidants, such as vitamin C, manganese, and flavonoids, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. By reducing oxidative stress, these antioxidants play a key role in mitigating inflammation. Additionally, cauliflower also contains an antioxidant called anthoxanthin, which helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and heart diseases.
  • Sulforaphane: This is a significant sulfur-containing compound found in cauliflower. Sulforaphane has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory effects, including its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit enzymes that trigger inflammation.
  • High in Glucosinolates: Cauliflower contains glucosinolates, which are precursors to isothiocyanates like sulforaphane. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in the context of reducing the risk of various chronic diseases, such as cancer.
  • Vitamin K: Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin K, which is known to play a role in regulating the inflammatory response in the body.

Cabbage

Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower and broccoli, possesses several properties that contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects:

  • Rich in Lutein, and Zeaxanthin: Cabbage is loaded with antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that play a crucial role in maintaining eye health. These powerful antioxidants are concentrated in the macula, a part of the retina responsible for central vision. They act as natural sunblock for the eyes, filtering harmful high-energy blue light from screens and sunlight, which can reduce the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that can lead to macular degeneration. A diet high in lutein and zeaxanthin can improve your eyesight and lower your risk of getting age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, two of the main reasons older adults lose their sight or have trouble seeing. These carotenoids also contribute to the density of the macular pigment, which protects the eyes from harmful light exposure. Regular consumption of foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin, such as leafy green vegetables, corn, eggs, and citrus fruits, is an effective strategy for supporting long-term eye health and maintaining good vision.
  • Sulforaphane: Sulforaphane, a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, plays a vital role in detoxifying your body. This antioxidant combats free radicals, which are tiny, harmful particles that can weaken and damage healthy cells. Free radicals arise from various sources, including pollution, UV rays, food additives, preservatives, and even natural processes like digestion. By neutralizing these toxins, sulforaphane also helps to reduce inflammation, a condition linked to various types of cancer. Sulforaphane may also protect DNA from mutations that can cause cancer and stop cancer cells from multiplying, which could slow tumor growth and stop it from spreading.
  • Vitamin U: Vitamin U, a powerful antioxidant that can quickly heal stomach ulcers, is found in cabbage, especially green cabbage. Cabbage also helps the liver get rid of toxins by helping the body make more of the antioxidant glutathione.

Purple cabbage is high in vitamin C and anthocyanins, which are two antioxidants that reduce the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Carrots

Carrots are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, primarily due to their rich nutritional content. Here’s what contributes to the anti-inflammatory effects of carrots:

  • Beta-Carotene: Beta-carotene, a vibrant orange pigment that gives carrots their color, is celebrated for its numerous health benefits. As a precursor to vitamin A, an essential nutrient, it plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision, skin, and immune function. Beta-carotene’s powerful antioxidant properties help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress, which is linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Its antioxidant action also contributes to protecting the skin from sun damage and may play a role in preventing skin aging.
  • Polyacetylenes: Polyacetylenes, a group of bioactive compounds found in certain vegetables like carrots, celery, and fennel, offer a range of health benefits. Known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, polyacetylenes like falcarinol and falcarindiol play a significant role in disease prevention. These compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. Additionally, polyacetylenes have antibacterial and antifungal properties that make them useful for fighting different infections and boosting the body’s natural defenses. Their anti-inflammatory action is particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of chronic diseases and alleviating conditions associated with inflammation, such as arthritis.

Lettuce

Lettuce, a common leafy green vegetable, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which are attributed to its nutritional composition. Here’s what contributes to the anti-inflammatory effects of lettuce:

  • Flavonoids: Lettuce contains flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol, which have antioxidant properties. Kaempferol helps to reduce inflammation, a common factor in conditions like arthritis, heart disease, and certain cancers. Kaempferol also has potential anti-cancer effects; studies suggest it can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in various types of cancer. Beyond its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, kaempferol is believed to contribute to cardiovascular health by improving blood vessel function and reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Additionally, it has been studied for its neuroprotective effects, suggesting it may help in preventing neurodegenerative diseases and improving cognitive function.
  • Vitamins A and C: Lettuce is a good source of vitamins A and C, both of which are powerful antioxidants. Vitamin C, in particular, plays a significant role in combating inflammation and boosting the immune system, while Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy skin and vision, as well as immune function.
  • Folate: Lettuce contains folate (vitamin B9), which contributes to anti-inflammatory effects by aiding in DNA synthesis and repair, thus maintaining healthy cell function and preventing excessive inflammatory responses. It effectively lowers blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to inflammation, by converting it into methionine. Folate also plays a role in modulating the immune system, ensuring a balanced response, and is involved in the methylation process, which regulates gene expression related to inflammation. Including folate-rich foods in your diet can help manage inflammation and support overall health.
  • Lactucin and Lactucopicrin: These are bioactive compounds found in lettuce, known for their sedative and pain-relieving properties. They also contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects of lettuce.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms contain a variety of bioactive compounds, some of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Beta-glucans, ergothioneine, and polyphenols are all examples of these types of bioactive compounds. Because these bioactive compounds stop the production of cytokines that cause inflammation and oxidative stress, they can help reduce inflammation in the body. Beta-glucans, in particular, have been shown to be able to both boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. 

Onions

Onions possess several properties that contribute to their anti-inflammatory effects, making them a beneficial addition to a healthy diet:

  • Flavonoids: Onions are rich in flavonoids, especially quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. Quercetin inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory substances like histamines and helps manage conditions like asthma and allergies.
  • Sulfur Compounds: Thiosulfinates and sulfoxides are sulfur-containing compounds predominantly found in onions and garlic, and they offer a range of health benefits. Thiosulfinates, known for their potent antimicrobial properties, are effective against various bacteria, viruses, and fungi, contributing to the body’s ability to ward off infections. These compounds are formed when onions and garlic are chopped or crushed, releasing their characteristic flavors and medicinal properties. Sulfoxides, on the other hand, are precursors to thiosulfinates and have been studied for their potential role in cardiovascular health. They may help reduce blood pressure and improve overall heart health. Both thiosulfinates and sulfoxides are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation in the body, which is a key factor in many chronic diseases. Additionally, these compounds are being researched for their potential anti-cancer effects, particularly in the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer.
  • Prebiotic Fiber: Onions are rich in prebiotic fibers, which are beneficial for gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for reducing systemic inflammation and maintaining overall health.
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Eat a variety of vegetables to get all the nutrients

Peas

Peas, a type of legume, offer several anti-inflammatory benefits due to their rich nutritional profile. Here’s what contributes to the anti-inflammatory properties of peas:

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Peas are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. These nutrients are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Vitamin C, in particular, is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress in the body, thereby lessening inflammation.
  • Polyphenol Content: Peas contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. One such polyphenol found in peas is coumestrol, which has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
  • Fiber: The high fiber content in peas supports gut health, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune response and reducing inflammation. A healthy gut microbiome plays a significant role in modulating inflammation in the body.
  • Antioxidant Compounds: Peas contain various antioxidant compounds that contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin E.

Potatoes

Potatoes have a lot of important nutrients and antioxidants, like vitamin C, potassium, fiber, B vitamins, copper, tryptophan, manganese, and even lutein.

Potatoes are alkaline in nature, which means they can help to detoxify the body, balance excess acidity, and ease the inflammation and pain associated with ulcers. Some compounds found in potatoes, including chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins, have been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure.

Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is rich in vitamins and minerals and also includes more than a dozen distinct flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin C and beta-carotene are two antioxidants found in spinach that work synergistically to keep “unhealthy” (LDL) cholesterol from being oxidized, a process that can contribute to hardening of the arteries.

Some types of cancer may be prevented by eating spinach. In particular, the antioxidant kaempferol, which is found in spinach, seems to lower the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in several nutrients and bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, including fiber, vitamins A and C, and polyphenols. These compounds can help to reduce inflammation in the body by neutralizing free radicals and inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

The anthocyanins found in purple sweet potatoes have been shown to have particularly potent anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, the high fiber content of sweet potatoes can support healthy digestion and reduce inflammation in the gut.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are full of beneficial anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, all of which reduce inflammation and support heart health.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a type of antioxidant that lowers the risk of cancer, strengthens the walls of blood vessels, and removes cholesterol from the blood. Lycopene also gives tomatoes their vibrant red color.

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Salad bowl with tomatoes, brussel sprouts and other vegetables

In summary, aim for a healthy diet in general to decrease inflammation. Follow a diet that is high in healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seafood, whole grains, and healthy oils. A diet that is more natural and less processed can help your physical and emotional health, as well as decrease inflammation.

Anti Inflammatory vegetables - roasted broccoli

17 Best Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables – Roasted Broccoli

8f7236c9626d7dcca9cca39f75b7f03fArchana Singh, PhD
These 17 Best Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables can help reduce inflammation and fight chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 164 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 lb broccoli cut into medium-sized florets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more if needed
  • 1/4 tsp pepper or more if needed
  • 2 tbsp parmesan freshly grated

Instructions
 

  • Set your oven to preheat at 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil.
  • Combine the broccoli florets with oil, garlic, salt, and pepper on the lined baking sheet.
  • Arrange the broccoli in a single layer and bake in the oven until the edges turn golden or lightly browned, and the stems are crisp yet tender. This should take approximately 15-16 minutes.
  • Garnish with freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 164kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 6gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 387mgPotassium: 549mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gPhosphorus: 133mg
Keyword Anti-inflammatory, Low carb, Roasted broccoli
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Archana Singh, PhD

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