Anti-inflammatory eating is the latest diet trend and looks like it’s here to stay – but is this really beneficial for us?

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is our body’s natural response to stress. There are a number of factors within our environment, lifestyle and diet that can trigger an inflammatory response throughout our body. Stress, lack of sleep, pollution and poor diet can all contribute to inflammation. When our body is constantly inflamed, it could become more susceptible to aging and other chronic conditions.

Inflammation and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition caused by the breakdown of cartilage. Overtime, most older adults will develop some form of osteoarthritis in the joint. Whilst pain is the most common symptom, studies have indicated that inflammation plays a key role in the progression of this chronic disease.

Anti-inflammatory Diet

The good news is, there are certain foods that may help reduce the risk of inflammation or reduce the severity of inflammation present when it occurs. This approach of eating is called the anti-inflammatory diet. Having a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is not only beneficial for our health, but can also decrease our risk of developing chronic conditions.


To help you get started, here are a list of anti-inflammatory foods that you should consider eating!

Herbs and Spices:

Not only enhance the taste and flavour of meals but it also plays an important anti-inflammatory role. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric

Green Leafy Vegetables:

Are full of polyphenols and antioxidants, which play an important anti-inflammatory role.

  • Broccoli
  • Baby Spinach
  • Bok Choy
  • Kale



Are rich in healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Studies have shown that these foods can help reduce inflammation.

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamias
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts


Such as oily fish, contains a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to be an effective tool for managing inflammation. Aim to have fish two to three times per week for maximum benefits.

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardine


Try to choose cold pressed oils as these contain higher amounts of polyphenols and antioxidants. Oils with high amount of monounsaturated fats also have anti-inflammatory properties. These include:

  • Olive oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Rice Bran oil
  • Peanut oil

Pro-inflammatory foods to avoid

Processed Foods:

Try to limit as much as possible as these contain high amount of saturated and trans fats which can trigger inflammation. These include:


  • Burger and chips
  • Pizza
  • Pies and sausage rolls
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Pastries
  • Nachos, tacos, tortillas


Refined Sugars:

Decreases our immunity and contributes to overall inflammation in our body. Try and limit:

  • Soft drink
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Ice-cream
  • Lollies

Note: natural sugar from fruit is fine


Has a major inflammatory effect on our body. Drinking alcohol in excess can lead to weight gain and increased risk of chronic conditions. If you do choose to drink, try and have no more than one to two standard drinks per day and two alcohol free days per week.


McLeod, C; Kubizniak, M; Bennett, K. (2016). Anti-inflammatory Eating: Recipes from your Dietitian’s Kitchen. [e-book] Australia: The Bone and Joint Clinic. Available through: National Library of Australia <> [Accessed 10 October 2016]

Sears, H. (2015). Anti-inflammatory Diets. Journal of the American College Nutrition. 34 (1), 14 – 21.

Calder, P.C, and Grimble, R.F. (2002). Poly-unsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 56, Suppl 3, S14–S19

Goldring, MB; Otero, M. (2011). Inflammation in Osteoarthritis. Current Opinion in Rheumatology. 23(5), 471-478. http:// 10.1097/BOR.0b013e328349c2b1

Pawelec G, Goldeck D, and Derhovanessian E. (2014) Inflammation, ageing and chronic disease. Current Opinion in Immunology. 8 (29), 23-8.

About the Author: Vicki Ma

Vicki Ma is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Sports Dietitian graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is the Founding Director of Eat for Wellness, a private practice based in Melbourne. Vicki has a special interest in weight loss management and have helped many individuals achieve their health and well-being goals. Her other areas of expertise include Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Food Intolerance and Heart Health.

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