Molly is a registered dietitian nutritionist who holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s degree in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University.
While acute inflammation can be a positive thing, signaling your body it's time to heal, low-level, chronic inflammation is the underlying issue behind many modern diseases. "If you have symptoms like headaches, bloating, joint pain, rashes, fatigue, weight gain, allergies, asthma, or mood issues—you are most likely inflamed," explains Amy Shah, M.D., a functional medicine doctor. "Sometimes inflammation can be "silent" or difficult to detect. It's the root cause of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and cancer."
While there are a number of ways to help quell inflammation, including prioritizing sleep and engaging in less strenuous exercise, food is one of the most powerful ways to really move the needle, and breakfast, which kicks off your day, is a great place to start. Here are five anti-inflammatory breakfasts that are as delicious as they are nourishing:
1. Golden milk oatmeal
Golden milk is an anti-inflammatory ayurvedic staple, combining milk, turmeric, and black pepper for an earthy, grounding breakfast that tastes as beautiful as it looks (that color!). One of turmeric’s active components is curcumin, which not only helps give the spice that bright hugh, it is also the anti-inflammatory star of this recipe. To make it, warm 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan until it just boils, then add ½ cup of rolled oats, 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. The black pepper may sound a little weird, but it’s essential in helping your body absorb more of that good anti-inflammatory curcumin from the turmeric (some studies show that black pepper can increase your body’s ability to absorb curcumin by 2000%).
Next, reduce heat to low and cook for one minute, then remove from heat and stir in maple syrup or honey to taste. Enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
2. Green tea smoothie
This smoothie uses green tea as its base for a refreshing way to start the day. Green tea is one of the most potent inflammation fighters around due to its high levels of the polyphenolic compound referred to as EGCG, which stops inflammation in its tracks by limiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokine proteins by cells.
Start by brewing 1½ cups of green tea and steeping the tea for 3 minutes before straining. Place it in the freezer while you add the rest of the ingredients to the blender (or make it the night before and let it chill in your fridge while you sleep). Add to the blender a big handful of spinach, the juice of 1 lemon, ½ an avocado, 1 scoop of unflavored collagen peptides, 1 banana, a handful of frozen blueberries, and a pinch of fine-grain sea salt. Add your green tea, and blend until smooth.
3. Frozen broccoli miso scramble
Broccoli is a well-studied inflammation fighter, like all of its cruciferous cousins. It's rich in sulforaphane, which fights inflammation by reducing oxidative stress and lessening tissue and cell damage.
To make this breakfast super easy, you'll simply grab a handful of frozen broccoli that you keep on hand in your freezer, and sauté it in a frying pan over medium in avocado oil until it's beginning to brown. Reduce the heat to super low, then add in two beaten pastured eggs and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring constantly. Just before they set, add in a splash of tamari and a spoonful of miso.
4. Olive oil fried egg salad
Olive oil, a Mediterranean diet staple, is renowned for its inflammation-fighting properties. Besides being high in the desirable heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help improve inflammation markers like C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, olive oil and especially extra virgin olive oil has a variety of polyphenols that reduce inflammation. Oleocanthal is one compound in particular in olive oil that has similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen.
For this breakfast, heat 2 teaspoons of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium high until hot. Crack 2 eggs directly into the pan, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, then flip and continue to cook until the egg reaches desired state of doneness. Serve on a bed of arugula tossed in more extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper for a quick and fresh breakfast.
5. Chocolate milk chia pudding
Chocolate for breakfast? If you're looking to fight inflammation, you've got a green light. Raw cacao is packed with flavanols. Flavanols are a type of phytonutrient or a natural chemical that a plant produces to help protect the plant from from things like bugs and disease and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties when consumed by people. Cacao actually has the highest concentration of flavanols on a per weight basis compared to all other foods, but flavanol content does decrease the more cacao is processed (so raw cacao will have more health benefits compared to a piece of milk chocolate). Some studies show that the consumption of cacao may help lower blood pressure and may even have some positive effects on blood cholesterol levels. More research is needed in this area though.
You'll want to make this breakfast the night before, but it takes just minutes: Stir 1½ tablespoons of raw cacao powder, 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch of fine-grain sea salt into 1 cup of milk of choice until combined. Add in 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, stirring until they're well distributed. Place in the fridge overnight, stirring after about 20 minutes and one hour. In the morning, the chia will have turned thick and gelatinous, and you'll have a beautiful, dessert-inspiring breakfast.
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