Cool down your diet this spring

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As the weather warms up, we begin to think of lighter foods. Eating light and choosing foods wisely carries the benefit of fighting inflammation in our bodies. Low-grade inflammation cannot be felt but operates in your body for years before appearing as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or Alzheimer’s.

Fighting inflammation with good food is a proactive choice to beat the heat in your body.  Making choices can become a habit; avoiding inflammatory heavy potato or pasta salads, frequent hamburgers, sodas, cookies, and salty condiments can be made easier when great-tasting alternatives are readily available. Fighting inflammation with these foods is not only good for you, but they are also delicious.

Broccoli–Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are linked with lower inflammation due to antioxidants and fiber. For interest and nutrition, work these vegetables into salads with a yogurt dip or air-fry with sprinkled parmesan.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil–How amazing is it that this oil contains oleocanthal, a naturally occurring compound with anti-inflammatory powers similar to ibuprofen? Use it on your daily salads, and drizzle over tomatoes.

Lentils–Four servings of legumes, such as all beans, chickpeas and sprouts, can reduce inflammation with the minerals, fiber and vitamins they provide. Serve in soups and salads, as hummus, or a three-bean salad with extra virgin olive oil for a double-whammy.

Wheat Berries–What is a wheat berry, you say? It is a whole wheat kernel made of bran, germ, and endosperm without the husk. Though wheat gets a bad rap, these incredible nuggets can be added to salads or baked into bread for texture. Look for them in the natural food aisle or store. Eating whole wheat provides polyphenol antioxidants which lower inflammation. Toss them into a salad with chopped spinach, kale, and broccoli, topped with ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and walnuts, and have an anti-inflammatory feast.

Salmon–The mega-healthy omega-3 fat lowers inflammation. Be creative and put cooked salmon on your salads, tacos and pasta dishes. Broil extra to have on hand for lunches.

Grapefruit–Antioxidants from this citrus fruit provide inflammation-fighting at its best. Peel a grapefruit to add to your salads, and add some chopped Brazil nuts, another great anti-inflammatory. Or eat them peeled and divided into sections as a cool and delicious snack.

Turmeric–Curcumin is the antioxidant that gives turmeric its yellow color and is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. Season your chilled soups, air fry with cauliflower, or steep in hot water with ginger and green tea, then add ice for a delicious iced tea.

Yogurt–The beneficial bacteria found in fermented dairy play a role in fighting inflammation. Choose low-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt for more protein and less sugar and calories. Eat yogurt as a snack with berries and nuts, and use it to replace the mayo or sour cream in tacos and sandwiches.

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can affect physical and emotional health. A healthy diet is beneficial for reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving mood and overall quality of life.