Nature has provided a potent array of superfoods boasting vital nutrients and antioxidants that infuse your body with vitality and reduce inflammation. These foods are usually vibrantly colored–beautiful reds and blues–but also sometimes come in surprising packages. Just about any fruit, vegetable, grain, or natural herb you eat possesses health benefits, but a few superfoods pack an extra punch.

1. Pomegranate

Whether you eat the actual fruit or drink juice–though do try to find some with minimal added sugar–pomegranates offer inflammation-fighting powers. A 2010 study published by the American Society of Nephrology found drinking pomegranate juice can decrease inflammation and repair damage caused by free radicals.

Eating the raw fruit may take some work. Cutting open the pomegranate’s hard shell reveals a maze of juicy, garnet-colored seeds that need to be carefully excised. Fortunately, the juice offers health benefits, as well.

2. Fish

Oily fish including salmon and tuna contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and boost health. A study published in a 2013 issue of Journal of Leukocyte Biology revealed the mechanism behind the long-known, but little-understood superpower. Fish oil contains Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a healthy fatty acid. The research found DHA supports the activity of white blood cells, a crucial component of the body’s immune system that reduces inflammation.

3. Cherries

Cherries, another bright-red fruit, may rank as nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory food, according to 2012 research from Oregon Health and Science University. The study followed 20 women with inflammatory osteoarthritis who drank cherry juice twice a day for 14 days. Study participants experienced significantly reduced markers of inflammation. Cherries’ main antioxidants are called anthocyanins. The powerful compound provides the fruit’s beautiful color as well as health benefits.

4. Garlic

Garlic’s innocuous beige color belies this pungent herb’s powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. All told, garlic contains four sulfuric compounds that reduce inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. 

Although garlic in any form provides health benefits, the greatest impact comes from eating it raw, notes a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. Heating garlic reduces the concentration of allicin, one of its anti-inflammatory compounds. However, eating cooked garlic still promotes health.

Do you include any of these superfoods into your diet? 

Image by Angelo Amboldi via Flickr

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