The Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Here are three reasons why shifting towards a plant-based diet will also change your lifestyle from a pro-inflammatory one to an anti-inflammatory one:

Fight Oxidative Stress

By eating more powerful plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tea, coffee, red wine and olive oil, you can actually fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals that damage your body.

Studies have shown that you can even block the negative effects of oxidative stress in a single meal by including plant foods such as strawberries.

Plant-Powered Tip: Instead of thinking of all the things you can't have in a vegetarian meal, think of all the things you can have. Take a trip to the produce section of your supermarket or visit a farmers market and feast your eyes on the rainbow of plant foods.

Consider this: When you focus on animal foods at every meal, your choices are limited to the basic beef, pork, chicken or seafood selection. But when you plan your meals around plant foods—such as a rainbow of delicious fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds—the sky's the limit.

More: Try a Plant-Based Diet for Weight Loss

Reduce Inflammation

Scientists have noticed that red meat is linked to higher levels of chronic inflammation. They speculate this pro-inflammatory response may be due to red meat's high saturated fat and iron content.

Plant-Powered Tip: If you eat meat at every meal, you have room to cut back.

Start out slowly with having one completely vegetarian meal per week or even having an entirely meatless day. And when planning your meals, change your mindset. Start with the vegetable or whole grain component. Meat doesn't need to be the "center of the plate."

You can even try using on individual portion of meat or chicken and use it to flavor an entire family-size meal of stir-fry, casserole or stew.

More: How to Transition to a Vegetarian Diet

Health Benefits

Since the beginning of time, people have cherished plants—in particular herbs and spices—not only for their flavor, but also for their health benefits.

Some spices and herbs provide similar effects as anti-inflammatory drugs, without any side effects.

Plant-Powered Tip: Visit a Mexican, Indian, Thai or Vietnamese restaurant; observe how dishes are prepared and what spices are used, and then take home a few culinary tricks or ideas.

If you are one of the many individuals who finds that "hot" spices such as black or red pepper do not agree with you, power up on the milder green herbs and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg to add health-protective power to your meals.

More: 3 Plant-Based Power Meals for Athletes

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About the Author

Sharon Palmer

Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today's Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.
Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today's Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.

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