This is the absolute best food for fighting inflammation, according to registered dietitians

Plus, easy ways to incorporate it into your diet.

While inflammation isn’t inherently bad and plays an important role as part of the body’s natural defense system, high levels of chronic inflammation can cause all kinds of health problems. “Chronic low-grade inflammation can cause a variety of symptoms throughout the body. Digestive issues, brain fog, cardiovascular disease, chronic aches and pains, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune disease are all signs that the body is struggling to deal with inflammation,” says Functional Medicine Nutritionist Barbara Sobel, MS, CNS, LND. He adds that what we eat is one of the biggest modifiers of inflammation.

There are many, many foods and drinks that are anti-inflammatory, helping to prevent chronic inflammation. Coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and herbs are all anti-inflammatory, and it’s best to eat a wide variety of these foods to reap a wide range of nutritional benefits. But if you want to focus on adding one incredible anti-inflammatory food to your diet, there’s one in particular recommended by healthy eating experts: berries.

Related: How to reduce inflammation in the body, according to doctors

Why berries are so helpful in preventing chronic inflammation

Whether your favorite is blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or cranberries, there are specific properties that berries have in common that are linked to the prevention of chronic inflammation. According to Sobel, this includes antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols (a specific type of antioxidant).

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, a registered dietitian who leads a team of dietitians in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, says that since most of the scientific studies on berries and health have been done on animals and in labs, it’s hard to know exactly why they’re so potent in protects against inflammation, but there is a lot of research to support the benefits of antioxidants, including polyphenols. Scientific studies show that antioxidants protect body tissues from damage caused by free radicals, which in turn prevents an inflammatory response.

Related: This is the absolute worst habit for inflammation, according to a cardiologist

Yarker also says the fiber, which the berries contain, is also linked to the prevention of chronic inflammation. One reason this is especially notable is because a full 90 percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended daily amount, which is 25 grams per day. Incorporating berries into your diet is an easy (and delicious!) way to increase the amount. “A diet high in fiber, especially soluble fiber, has been shown to dampen this inflammatory process,” says Sobel. She adds that blackberries and raspberries each have eight grams of fiber per cup, while strawberries and blueberries have closer to three or 3.5 grams of fiber per cup.

In addition to antioxidants and fiber, both experts say berries contain other vitamins and minerals that are linked to the prevention of chronic inflammation. The types and amounts of these vitamins and minerals vary slightly based on the type of berry. Their advice is to change the ones you eat. This way, you get a wide range of nutrients.

Related: Dietitians agree this is the worst snack for inflammation

How to incorporate more berries into your diet

If you want to incorporate berries more into your diet, Sobel says buying fresh or frozen fruits is equally beneficial. The key, she says, is to avoid anything overly processed that contains added sugar, which can be found in some fruit cups, prepackaged smoothies or juices. Also, it’s important to know that fruit juice doesn’t contain the beneficial fiber that makes berries so great for preventing inflammation.

There’s certainly no shortage of ways to incorporate berries into your diet. They can, of course, be eaten as they are. Some breakfast ideas that include berries along with other anti-inflammatory foods include oatmeal, smoothies, or Greek yogurt parfait. At lunch and dinner, berries can add an unexpected pop of sweetness to salads and cereal bowls. And, of course, there are plenty of dessert recipes that incorporate berries; just be careful of the amount of sugar that is used to keep it healthy.

While eating berries regularly may help prevent inflammation, both experts point out that it’s not the only food to prioritize, and that eating berries can’t undo a diet that’s primarily high in foods that cause inflammation, such as simple refined carbohydrates, sugar, and fried foods.

“Regularly include a variety of different berries in our diets along with a variety of other colorful plant foods, get enough sleep, get our bodies moving, manage stress, have close supportive bonds with others, and address any microbiome imbalances All help reduce inflammation,” says Sobel.

At this point, consider increasing your berry intake as a starting point, not an end. Through diet and lifestyle, you can work to prevent chronic inflammation, one healthy habit at a time.

Next, learn more about the anti-inflammatory diet, including what it is and what you can eat while on it.


  • Barbara Sobel, MS, CNS, LND, functional medicine nutritionist specializing in digestive, cognitive and hormonal health

  • Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, registered dietitian leading a team of dietitians in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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