Hello, Summer. Goodbye, inflammation.

Summer comes with lots of good things: days at the beach, vacation, cookouts. It’s the last one on the list that can get us into trouble. Hot dogs, white bread, chips and sugar can do their damage by causing inflammation. Chronic inflammation, which can be triggered by diet, can cause serious illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Foods that can be inflammatory are probably things you already know aren’t too good for you:

White flour products like bread, crackers and pasta quickly metabolize into sugar themselves and increase two inflammation markers. Here are your burger buns, sandwich bread and cookies.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most common cooking oils. Vegetable oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil are generally made of low-quality ingredients and are found in many convenience foods. Chips, salad dressings and processed cheese often use these oils.

Processed meats and red meat contain a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce that triggers an inflammatory response. Cured meats, like hot dogs and salami, as well as steak, trigger inflammation – especially when grilled.

Sugar in any refined form, cane sugar or corn syrup, is going to cause inflammation. Refined sugar is found in many desserts, popsicles and candy.

One thing you can do to help prevent chronic inflammation is to eat anti-inflammatory foods.  Here are some foods that can help lower inflammation:

Whole grains are a much better choice than processed grains. When grains are left more intact instead of processed, they break down more slowly and don’t release a direct hit of sugar to your body. Try farro, quinoa or other whole wheat options for your grains.

Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to balance out the amount of omega-6 fatty acids we regularly consume. This can be easy by eating foods like salmon and walnuts. Try salmon with lemon and rosemary in a foil pack on the grill.

Greens contain vitamin E, which may help to reduce inflammation. Try some spinach, broccoli or Brussels sprouts as part of a cold side salad.

Berries and other fruits are good for you and can be a healthy way to eat something sweet. The fiber they contain helps slow down digestion of the sugars, making them a safer treat. Try having a healthy fruit salad, smoothie or popsicle.

Anti-inflammatory pineapple blueberry popsicles                           

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups diced pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup lime juice or water
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

Add all the ingredients to a blender. Process until smooth and all ingredients become the same color.

Pour mixture to a popsicle mold and freeze for at least four hours. Enjoy!

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