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5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Don't Know About (But Should!)

Desiree Nielsen, R.D.
Author:
August 18, 2014
Photo by Stocksy.com
August 18, 2014

Nature has provided us with an abundant food web, each plant bearing its own complex of beneficial compounds. And yet, many of us eat a diet composed of just 30 or so foods — which means that we're likely missing out on the power of these healing foods. Right now, there's no better way to bust dietary ruts than to head to the farmers market.

One of the simple joys of summer is strolling through your local farmer's market to collect flavorful, seasonal delights to add to your repertoire. Shopping at the farmers markets helps you build a connection to the people who grow your food as you find flavorful new foods to cook with. Shaking up your routine will help bring more joy to your healthy eating regimen.

So grab your market basket and feast on these truly medicinal foods!

1. Purslane

This delicious weed has crisp, succulent leaves with a slight lemony taste that pack a potent dose of melatonin and glutathione, two powerful antioxidants. Purslane is a rich plant source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and its soluble fiber is soothing to an irritable gut. Purslane also provides zinc, an important mineral for immunity and gut health.

Add leaves to a salad or lightly sauté them with other summer greens.

2. Kohlrabi

A lesser-known member of the brassica family, kohlrabi shares many of the same anti-inflammatory compounds as its cousins, kale and broccoli. It is also a good source of vitamin C, but what I love most about it is that it is a great veggie to help you replace less healthy choices like crackers and chips thanks to its crunch and firm texture.

Slice the bulb into crackerlike rounds that you can use to scoop up healthy dips, julienne the bulb into salads, or dice it into a summer sauté. Slice and sauté the leaves with a healthy dose of garlic as a side dish.

3. Marionberries

This lesser-known blackberry variety is in season for just a little while longer, so stock up while you can! Marionberries are rich in ellagic acid, a phytochemical that protects against cancer, and anti-inflammatory anthocyanins. They are also a great, delicious source of fiber, with 5 grams per half cup.

Make a low-sugar, instant jam by mixing it with chia seeds; freeze for smoothies or snack on the berries all day long.

4. Burdock root

Traditionally consumed as a blood purifier, burdock helps to support a healthy digestive tract by feeding the beneficial bacteria that live there. Antioxidant-rich, burdock is also a source of the prebiotic fiber, inulin. Inulin fiber increases the growth of friendly gut bacteria that can lower inflammation — but it can also aggravate irritable bowel symptoms, so be warned. Burdock supports healthy bones with calcium and calming magnesium.

Burdock can be stir-fried, pickled and simmered into soups.

5. Shiitake mushrooms

Mushrooms are immune-boosting superstars, thanks to their beta-glucan content. Beta-glucan helps to lower the inflammatory response through direct action on the immune system and eating shiitake mushrooms helps support heart health too.

Roast, sauté or simmer shiitakes into your favorite dishes for a meaty, flavorful alternative to the common mushroom.

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