Trendy Diets Done Right: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The skinny on this eating plan-advocated by Nicholas Perricone and the Zone's Barry Sears-including recipes and menus, and advice from a nutritionist

Looking to lose weight or just eat healthier in the New Year? Let us help you weigh the many options out there with our Diets 101 series. Today's diet is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

The Concept

Eating anti-inflammatory foods-and avoiding inflammatory ones-can make weight loss easier, slow down the aging process, and prevent disease.

Distinguishing Features

  • Salmon, flax, walnuts, and other omega-3 rich foods are central
  • There's an emphasis on colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits andvegetables
  • Avocados, nuts, and olive oil provide monounsaturated fats
  • Liberal use of spices, especially the "hot" ones
  • Flagship flavors: curry, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers

This Is Your Diet If...

  • You love exploring international cuisines
  • You're on an anti-aging crusade
  • You have a great fish market
  • You like to eat out

Probably Not for You If...

  • You don't care for fish
  • You dislike spicy food
  • You live for pasta, potatoes, and bread
  • Cream and butter are your two favorite food groups

Our Assessment

Research shows that inflammation in the body not only increases your risk of disease (including heart disease and stroke) but can make it tougher to lose weight as well. This diet emphasizes foods that are high in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which reputedly help reduce inflammation. Keeping your diet low in sugar further cools the inflammatory fires by keeping blood-sugar levels in check.

Salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts (all rich in omega-3s) are star players, along with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, carrots, and spinach. Olive oil is the primary source of fat. Choosing lean meats and low-fat dairy products keeps saturated fat levels down. Vegetable oils, which are high in omega-6 fats (getting too much omega-6 fat is believed to increase inflammation), and simple carbohydrates are minimized.

Certain spices, such as garlic, turmeric, ginger, and chili peppers, also have potent inflammation-reducing abilities, so menus are inflected with Indian, Asian, and Latin flavors.

Editor's note: The author of this story, Monica Reinagel, also wrote The Inflammation Free Diet Plan, featured below. Despite her affiliation with this diet, we are confident in her ability to provide an unbiased analysis of the other diets featured on Epicurious.


A Day on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet



with whole-wheat crackers



  • Raspberry Sorbet

More Great Anti-Inflammatory Recipes

Books on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The Anti-inflammation Zone
by Barry Sears, PhD
For the latest book in the Zone franchise, Dr. Sears layers anti-inflammatory principles onto his original 40:30:30 approach (40 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat). In the Anti-Inflammation Zone, you'll still build balanced meals and snacks using the plan's concept of "Zone blocks" (each block is made up of mini-blocks of protein, carbs, and fat), but there's a heightened emphasis on fish, veggies, berries, olive oil, almonds, avocado, and spices.

The Perricone Weight Loss Diet
by Nicholas Perricone, M.D.
Celebrity dermatologist Nicholas Perricone promises that an anti-inflammatory diet will give you smoother, younger-looking skin in addition to a svelte physique. His diet program is built on anti-inflammatory "super-foods." In addition to the usual suspects (salmon, avocado, olives, turmeric, chili peppers, green veggies, and flaxseeds), he adds yogurt, apples, and cinnamon to his Top Ten list.

The Inflammation Free Diet Plan
by Monica Reinagel, M.S. L.D./N.
Most anti-inflammatory diet plans revolve around the same short list of foods. For more variety, this book has an "IF Rating" system that ranks thousands of foods according to their "inflammation factor." When you're tired of ginger-glazed salmon and broccoli, expand your repertoire with other types of fish, meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, and spices. Build anti-inflammatory recipes and meal plans by adding up the IF Ratings of individual foods. (Editor's note: Epicurious's sister site Nutrition Data's Nutrition Facts labels provide IF Ratings for individual foods, recipes, and whole meals.)

By Monica Reinagel

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