16 Foods That Reduce Inflammation and Pain

Fill up on these nutritious whole foods to nourish your body, stop pain, and ease painful inflammation.

Olive oil


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a chemical in extra-virgin olive oil, oleocanthal, inhibits inflammatory enzymes in the same way that ibuprofen does. Drizzle olive oil on veggies and salads, and dunk bread into it instead of patting on butter or margarine. Here are more amazing health benefits of olive oil.



Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme in this tropical fruit, reduces inflammation. Studies show that eating pineapple may reduce pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and lower swelling in people with carpal tunnel syndrome. (Never ignore these 6 pain symptoms!)


istock/Petr Wagenknecht

These popular fruits are just one of the many foods that reduce inflammation because they contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant.  No wonder one a day keeps the doctor away. Here are the 7 healthiest ways to eat apples and give your body a nutritious boost.

Nuts and seeds


Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan may lower pain sensitivity just one hour after eating. Other foods with high levels of tryptophan include hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, turkey, dairy products, soy, seafood, whole grains, rice, beans, and lentils. This is why nuts are the best disease fighter in your pantry!

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Green leafy vegetables, including kale, chard, bok choy, and silverbeet are foods that reduce inflammation because they're packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids, which are plant pigments that give green and orange produce their vibrant color. (Here's a list of the best antioxidant-rich fruit and veggies you should be eating, according to Tufts University nutrition researchers.)

Dark chocolate

istock/Thomas Francois

Yes, you read that correctly. Dark chocolate contains chemicals that help fight inflammation. According to a large Italian study, people who ate about one square of dark chocolate every three days had significantly lower measures of a protein associated with inflammation than those who ate no chocolate at all. Here are more healthy reasons to eat dark chocolate every day.

Brown rice

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Brown rice and other whole grains can help fight off the pains of irritable bowel syndrome. Whole grains are also a good source of magnesium, which appears to cut the frequency of migraines by helping to relax nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. Added bonus: According to a Harvard University study, women who eat brown rice are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t. Try these tricks for adding more whole grains to your day!



Chomp on some grapes or mulberries or sip wine (yes!) for a dose of resveratrol, which inhibits inflammatory enzymes in much the same way aspirin does (but without the stomach irritation). Grapes are amongst the 30 foods that fight cancer.

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British researchers who analyzed the diets of 25,000 people found that those who ate foods with a chemical common in oranges and other orange-colored fruits, like apricots and nectarines, were less likely to have painful inflammatory joint conditions. Just one or two daily servings of these fruits per day made a difference. Plus, you can use the orange peel in a number of unexpected ways around your home.


istock/Emilie Duchesne

Cherries contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which give berries their blue and red colors and fight inflammation in the same way aspirin does. Raspberries and strawberries are also foods that reduce inflammation. (Did you know that there's such a thing as eating too much fruit? Here's the recommended amount of fruit you should be really eating.)

Cranberry juice

istock/Stephanie Frey

Harvard University researchers found that women who drank 10 ounces of the juice a day had bladder infections only 42 percent as often as those who did not drink up. The researchers believe that an ingredient in the juice may inhibit bacteria from invading the bladder wall. Drinking blueberry juice or green tea are just a few of the other natural home remedies for UTIs you should be using.

Onions and garlic


Foods that reduce inflammation like this family of bulb vegetables are high in anti-inflammatory substances, as well as sulfur compounds, that help stimulate the immune system to keep everything running smoothly. Here's how to peel a whole head of garlic in secondsliterally.

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Green and black tea


Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids that may protect against cell damage that can worsen conditions such as arthritis. It also contains a chemical that fights inflammation, so consider swapping that morning cup of joe for a green tea instead. Check out the endless health benefits of tea.



This vegetable contains glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that may guard against arthritis. Other fruits and vegetables rich in glutathoine include asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, and watermelons. Not only does it have antioxidant capabilities, but broccoli can also improve your gut health!


istock/Sara Winter

Oily fish such as salmon, trout, and anchovies, along with walnuts, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and canola oil contain omega-3 fatty acids that act as a powerful anti-inflammatory. A University of Pittsburgh study found that people with back and neck pain who took omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form for three months had less pain overall. Eat fatty fish at least twice a week and consider taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement to fight pain. If you don't like fish, opt for these omega-3 foods instead.

Soy protein


Researchers at Oklahoma State University found that people with osteoarthritis, especially men, who ate 40 grams of soy protein per day for three months had less pain and moved more easily than those who didn’t. It’s tough to eat that much pure soy protein a day unless you add soy protein powder to shake or smoothie, but it is still worth adding a serving of soya beans, tofu, or soy milk to your daily food intake. These 7 other surprising lifestyle hacks can help you win the battle against arthritis pain.

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