Inflammation is part of your body’s natural immune response. However, there is a difference between the short-term inflammatory response that happens when your body is healing a cut or infection and long-term chronic inflammation resulting from a poor diet.
Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and starts to show itself in a variety of ways. If you are bothered by aches, pains, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and unexplained weight gain, an anti-inflammatory diet is worth your while. This blog post shows you which foods to eat and how to put them together for a full day of eating.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Sample Menu – At-A-Glance
- Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with peppers and onions
- Lunch: Salad topped with wild-caught salmon, walnuts, tomatoes, and assorted vegetables
- Snack: Blueberry avocado smoothie
- Dinner: Baked Chicken with Mexican cauliflower rice
- Dessert: Dark chocolate and green tea
Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Sample Menu & Recipes (Low Carb) [Video]
In this video, you will learn…
- Which foods have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Recipes for a full day of eating!
- How to fit these recipes into a low-carb diet.
Switching to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
If we peel away all layers to get to the root cause of diet-related inflammation, we see that much of the problem lies with processed, packaged, or fast foods and sweetened drinks like soda. These items are easy and convenient, but you can’t outrun the health consequences of a diet focused on them. No one’s diet is perfect, but by switching your food choices to those that limit inflammation, you give your body what it needs, and in return, you get the health and weight control you want.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods List
Foods that contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, unrefined carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids are at the top of the list for anti-inflammatory foods.
Anti Inflammatory Foods include:
Anti-Inflammatory Sample Menu
From the list of anti-inflammatory foods, we can create a sample menu for a full day of eating.
Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with peppers and onions
Lunch: Salad topped with wild-caught salmon, walnuts, tomatoes, and assorted vegetables
Snack: Blueberry avocado smoothie
Dinner: Baked Chicken with Mexican cauliflower rice
Dessert: Dark chocolate and green tea
Let’s go over how to make this menu doable and how you are benefitting from each of these foods.
Breakfast: Pepper and Mushroom Omelet
You can start your day with a two-egg omelet filled with ¼ cup each of chopped green pepper and mushrooms; cooked in a tablespoon of avocado oil.
Peppers and mushrooms contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from being damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals.
Cooking your omelet in a heat-resistant oil, like avocado oil, adds to the anti-inflammatory effect that you are after. When cooking, you want to avoid unstable, polyunsaturated oils, like vegetable oil or soybean oil, because they degrade when exposed to heat.
Choosing extra virgin oil is also a step in the right direction. Extra virgin means that the oil is from the first extraction, containing more antioxidants and beneficial compounds than regular oil.
Eggs, by themselves, are not classified as anti-inflammatory foods but can be included in the day’s menu for most people. If eggs are not something you tolerate, you can swap the omelet for the smoothie (below) or skip breakfast to practice intermittent fasting.
Pepper & Mushroom Omelet
courtesy of Dr. Becky Fitness
- 2 large Eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
- 1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper chopped
- 1/4 cup Mushrooms chopped
- 1 pinch Salt & Pepper to taste
- Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and beat well. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook until slightly tender, about 3 minutes.
- Pour the eggs into the pan with the vegetables.
- Cook until the eggs are set. Season with salt and pepper.
Lunch: Salmon Salad
For lunch, you can enjoy a large salad topped with five ounces of wild-caught salmon, a couple of tablespoons (15g) of walnuts, tomatoes, and assorted non-starchy vegetables. A simple olive oil and vinegar dressing can be mixed up at home for salad dressing. The typical ratio for oil to vinegar is 3 to 1. For instance, you can mix three teaspoons of oil with one teaspoon of vinegar for a quick salad dressing. I like to stir in a small amount of Dijon mustard for a bit of flavor.
If you are not much for cooking or looking for a quick lunch, you can use packaged wild-caught salmon.
Walnuts not only enhance the flavor and crunch of the salad, but they also provide healthy fats that help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the vegetables.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that gets a lot of praise for its anti-inflammatory properties (3).
For vegetables, you can choose any non-starchy vegetables that you enjoy. Chopped broccoli and dark leafy greens are good choices. Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable. Vegetables from this family have been shown to play a role in cancer prevention (4).
Dark leafy greens, such as kale or spinach, are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals but low in calories. So, you can fill a large salad bowl with 2-4 cups of leafy greens to get a lot of satisfying volume that will take a long time to digest, keeping hunger away.
courtesy of Dr. Becky Fitness
- 1.5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 2-4 cups Mixed Salad Greens add spinach and kale for anti-inflammatory boost
- 5 medium Grape Tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup Cucumber chopped
- 2 tablespoons Walnuts chopped;
- 5 ounces Packaged or Canned Salmon drained
- In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, and mustard.
- Place the salad greens in a bowl and stir in the dressing until the greens are coated.
- Top the salad with the tomatoes, cucumbers, walnuts, and salmon.
Snack: Blueberry & Avocado Smoothie
You can fuel your body with an anti-inflammatory smoothie. A smoothie is a fun food that you can pack with beneficial ingredients. For instance, you can whip up an anti-inflammatory smoothie by placing half of an avocado and a ½ cup (115g) of frozen blueberries into a blender along with a cup (240ml) of almond milk, a handful of spinach, and a tablespoon of almond butter.
Almond milk is non-dairy milk. Dairy is not an issue for everyone, but some people do not tolerate it, so we are omitting dairy from this anti-inflammatory sample menu. Almond butter can be included, but avoid almond butter with added sugar or soybean oil.
The two anti-inflammatory stars of this smoothie are avocado and berries. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and minerals that your body needs, like potassium and magnesium. Berries are a rich source of inflammation-fighting antioxidants (5).
Berries are also lower in carbohydrates than many fruits, making berries a good way to add a touch of sweetness to a low carb diet.
Blueberry Avocado Smoothie
courtesy of Dr. Becky Fitness
- 1/2 medium Avocado
- 1/2 cup Frozen Blueberries
- 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk substitute another nut milk
- 1/2 cup Spinach
- 1 tablespoon Almond Butter
- Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend for 30-60 seconds.
Dinner: Baked Chicken with Cauliflower Rice
Our sample menu dinner includes 6 ounces of chicken with a serving of seasoned cauliflower rice.
Like eggs, chicken is not classified as an anti-inflammatory food but can work for your full day of eating. When choosing an entrée for an anti-inflammatory diet, higher quality meats are the best choice. If feasible, look for grass-fed meats with no hormones or antibiotics and avoid convenience meats like lunch meats, hot dogs, and similar processed items.
Dinner does not need to be complicated. Chicken can be seasoned with salt and pepper and baked in the oven. If you don’t have time to cook, you can pick up a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store.
You can prepare Mexican cauliflower rice on the stove as a side dish. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli that we discussed earlier. For convenience, you can pick up a one-pound (454g) bag of frozen cauliflower rice at your local grocery store and cook it with a couple of tablespoons of avocado oil to get it tender. Cauliflower rice can be spiced up in many ways. For this side dish, I used a homemade taco seasoning mix with added turmeric. Most spices contain compounds that benefit your health. Turmeric gets extra attention because it is a source of an inflammation-fighting antioxidant called curcumin (6).
Mexican Cauliflower Rice with Turmeric
courtesy of Dr. Becky Fitness
- 1 pound Pre-riced Cauliflower fresh or frozen; substitute cauliflower florets that have been finely chopped in a food processor
- 2 tablespoons Avocado Oil
- 1/2 tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1/2 tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon Paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/8 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1/8 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Place a medium-sized skillet on the stove on medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat before adding the cauliflower rice. Cook the rice until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the seasoning ingredients and continue to cook on low heat until the rice is tender, about 4 to 5 more minutes depending on your desired tenderness.
Dessert: Dark Chocolate & Green Tea
A couple of squares of Dark Chocolate and a cup of tea can be enjoyed to wind down after dinner. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. However, the chocolate must contain at least 70% cacao and limit added sugar to reap the health benefits. If your dark chocolate bar has sugar listed as one of the top three ingredients, it does not give you the inflammatory protection you’re after.
Tea is a non-caloric drink that gets a lot of praise as a healthy beverage. Green tea is the most extensively studied tea for its beneficial effects on inflammatory diseases. Its praise is partly due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of compounds in green tea, like EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) (7) (8).
Tip: Tea makes a great stopper. A stopper is a food, drink, or activity that allows you to separate from the act of eating. Hot tea takes a long time to sip, allowing your body time to tell your brain that you’re full. Therefore, having a cup of tea after dinner is not only a way to control inflammation but also a way to prevent overeating.
Sample Menu Nutrition Facts
This full day of eating provides just over 1,500 calories and only 56 grams of carbohydrates, which works perfectly for low carb dieters. It also contains 20 grams of fiber, 99 grams of fat, and 108 grams of protein.
It is a sample menu to show you how to combine anti-inflammatory foods, so the calories can be adapted to suit your needs by changing the portion sizes.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Costabile, Giuseppina, et al. “An Oily Fish Diet Improves Subclinical Inflammation in People at High Cardiovascular Risk: A Randomized Controlled Study.” Molecules 26.11 (2021): 3369.
(2) Abdelhamid, Asmaa S., et al. “Omega‐3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 11 (2018).
(3) Imran, Muhammad, et al. “Lycopene as a natural antioxidant used to prevent human health disorders.” Antioxidants 9.8 (2020): 706.
(4) Nandini, D. B., et al. “Sulforaphane in broccoli: The green chemoprevention!! Role in cancer prevention and therapy.” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: JOMFP 24.2 (2020): 405.
(5) Skrovankova, Sona, et al. “Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity in different types of berries.” International journal of molecular sciences 16.10 (2015): 24673-24706
(6) Hewlings, Susan J., and Douglas S. Kalman. “Curcumin: A review of its effects on human health.” Foods 6.10 (2017): 92.
(7) Kochman, Joanna, et al. “Health benefits and chemical composition of matcha green tea: A review.” Molecules 26.1 (2020): 85.
(8) Pervin, Monira, et al. “Beneficial effects of green tea catechins on neurodegenerative diseases.” Molecules 23.6 (2018): 1297.