BIG Nutrition: Anti-inflammatory Power of Food!


BIG Nutrition: Anti-inflammatory Power of Food!

Some WODs just say…there will be pain after this one. How about leveraging food to fight inflammation instead of ibuprofen? If you are willing to give it a try, here is the strategy:

Eat lots of vegetables and fruits each day (1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked) as many as 8-9 servings per day is ideal.

  • Deeply colored fruits, specifically, tart cherries, pomegranates, and blueberries. All three of these have small studies supporting their role in reducing muscle soreness.
  • Citrus fruits, high in vitamin C, oranges, grapefruit
  • Vegetables, in a wide variety of colors, such as, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, peppers, dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, collard greens), as well as, garlic and onions are terrific choices.
  • You can even choose vegetables with little color, like the cauliflower in this photo (by nutrition challenge photo contest winner Alicia Burke who has gotten her children into the challenge too!), which is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant.

 Use extra virgin olive oil.

  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is less refined and processed than oils labeled just olive oil, and preliminary evidence suggests that one component, oleocanthal, may be the reason that EVOO appears to have anti-inflammatory properties.


Use spices and herbs to season foods.

  • Turmeric has been written about extensively for its anti-inflammatory properties. Using this spice to season foods appears safe for everyone, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Supplements are not recommended because the amounts (high or low) are not regulated. Do not consume turmeric if you are on a blood thinner; it can interact with this type of medication.
  • Ginger appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. Consume in food, chew small amounts, or brew like tea.
  • Other herbs and spices may join the ranks and be shown to fight inflammation in the future, but in the meantime, these are great for flavoring foods and using less salt.


Include food rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

  • 7 ounces of fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, flounder, sardines, and other fatty fish) are recommended per week. All are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Higher amounts should be consumed with caution, especially in at risk groups (children and pregnant women) due to the high mercury content.
  • Non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts and chia seeds, although, the omega-3’s might be less available from these sources.


Reducing processed foods (e.g., refined carbohydrates, fried foods, soda, sausages) and excess alcohol (beyond moderate intake: 2 servings for men and 1 serving for women per day) is also necessary to minimize inflammation.

Although it can be a challenge to achieve all of these ideals, eating more whole plant foods can really make a difference in your overall health and in fighting inflammation!

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN


Have a question about how to fuel for Beat the Streets? Contact me at [email protected]