Spring is here and so is an abundance of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory spring produce. Eating healthy during the spring is made easier because of this bounty. Menu 1 contains a wealth of organic, anti-inflammatory foods picked at their peak of ripeness, enhancing their anti-oxidant benefits as well as flavor.
Inflammation comes from the Latin word inflammo which means “to ignite.” (1) Inflammation in the body is akin to a fire. The inflammatory response is a health protective mechanism and is the body’s way of protecting itself against invaders. However, if the body is expending too much energy trying to put out these ‘fires,’ imbalance can result, increasing risk factors for chronic disease.
A healthy diet includes removing processed foods, pro-inflammatory fats and sugar and adhering to a correct macronutrient balance while ramping up on nutrient density. Here is the breakdown for how the individual components in menu 1 provided all those things and more:
- Halibut is a source of EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids which are already in active form. Omega 3 acids from halibut effectively reduce inflammation by increasing the production of adiponectin, a type of hormone that increases muscle carbohydrate use for energy, metabolism boost and fat burning. (2)
- Quinoa are fiber-filled grains which produce butyrate, a fatty acid that hinders the activity of genes that are connected to inflammation and insulin resistance. Vitamin B also helps the reduction of inflammation by lowering the production of the inflammatory hormone homocysteine. (3)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oils are rich in oleocanthal, nature’s pain reliever. This unique component of extra virgin olive oil (found only at its purest form) works similarly to ibuprofen which helps in preventing the enzymes COX-1 and COX-2 that promote inflammation. Oleocanthals change the structure of proteins in the body. (4)
- Garlic stimulate proteins that prevent inflammation while suppressing the signs of inflammation. (5)
- Asparagus is rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients that help reduce the risk of chronic health ailments, including type 2 diabetes. This beneficial effect is also attributed to the presence of the mineral chromium, which plays a vital role in regulating  the blood sugar levels of the body. In addition, asparagus is a natural diuretic and can help in flushing excess fluids from the body.
- Watercress is a leafy green aquatic plant found near rivers and streams, and also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse. In a 2014 study on this subject, watercress ranked highest in nutritional density. (7) It is an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamins A and C, as well as vitamin K, an essential micronutrient for bone health. It is also a rich natural source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoid nutrients that are gaining attention for their ability to protect vision and support cardiovascular health.
- Cauliflower is in a class unto itself when it comes to its superfood benefits. As a member of the cruciferous family, it has cancer-fighting properties, anti-oxidant and inflammatory compounds, and is rich in detoxifying nutrients (8). But what makes cauliflower unique is its versatility. It can be used in place of starches – making it a standout low glycemic alternative to grains and potatoes.