Although there’s no specific “psoriasis diet,” certain foods may reduce the inflammation that’s triggering your flare-ups. “The nutrients that we get by eating a healthy diet are our body’s best defense against the disease process,” says Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, owner of Nutrition CheckUp and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These immunity-boosting superfoods provide the nutrients the body needs to not only fend off infection, but also help fight immune-related illnesses, says Mangieri. And anti-inflammatory foods have the greatest effect if they’re consumed regularly, she adds. So put these seven options on your grocery list, and incorporate them into your meals as often as possible!
Consider adding more citrus to your daily diet. Lemons, for instance, contain hydrocinnamic acid, flavonoids, vitamin C, and carotenoids — all of which act as powerful antioxidants in the body. Another plus: Hesperidin, a specific flavonoid found in citrus fruits, has been shown to help prevent chronic disease by reducing inflammation, says Mangieri. Try mixing mandarin orange slices and green onions into couscous, adding freshly juiced lemon to your water (pre-squeezed, bottled juice loses its vitamin C content quickly!) or making a citrus parfait with low-fat yogurt, oranges, and berries.
Omega-3 fatty acids — found in fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines — are known to reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk for certain chronic inflammatory diseases, according to a study published in the 2013 edition of Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Add fatty fish to the menu at least twice a week, Mangieri says. Try baking or grilling fish seasoned with herbs and lemon juice or Dijon mustard. And consider taking a supplement on days when you’re not getting omega-3 fatty acids from food sources.
Anthocyanins, which give certain foods like berries their red, purple, and blue hues, are a type of natural plant chemical that may also help reduce inflammation, Mangieri says. “Blueberries are low in calories, a good source of fiber and manganese, and high in vitamin C,” says Mangieri. “They are also rich in polyphenols, which in addition to being powerful antioxidants, also have anti-inflammatory properties.” Add blueberries tooatmeal, granola, or low-fat yogurt.
Cherries, particularly tart cherries, may contain even higher levels of anthocyanins than raspberries and blueberries, which can provide an even greater anti-inflammatory effect, according to the Arthritis Foundation. “Tart cherries can be added to salads or sautéed into many different vegetable recipes, such as green beans or Brussels sprouts,” Mangieri suggests. “They can also be mixed with other anti-inflammatory foods such as walnuts to make a trail mix.” She notes that the phytonutrients that make tart cherries a smart pick can also be found in many other fruits and vegetables as well, including Concord grapes, red cabbage, and eggplant.
Lycopene is a nutrient found in red fruits like tomatoes, pink grapefruits, and watermelon Mangieri says. A study published in the 2014 edition of Food Science & Technologysuggests that the lycopene in watermelon has strong anti-inflammatory effects, showing even higher antioxidant activity than lycopene from tomatoes. Try watermelon drizzled with lime juice or make a tasty appetizer by pairing watermelon and mint.
Olive oil, which is a key part of the Mediterranean diet, is a rich source of phenolic compounds shown to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Keep in mind, however, that even healthy fats are high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. One tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories, so be sure to measure it out when using in your meals. “Substitute olive oil for other fats so that you’re sure not to get too many in your diet,” advises Mangieri. “Drizzling olive oil over tomatoes not only improves the flavor but also increases satiety and improves the absorption of the lycopene.”
Dark Leafy Greens
Eating dark leafy greens, which contain the pigment violaxanthin, can help ease inflammation, according to a study published in the 2012 edition of Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. And cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, and arugula contain substances known as glucosinolates. During digestion, those glucosinolates are broken down to form active compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects, according to the National Cancer Institute. Add spinach to a sandwich, or sauté kale, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes in some olive oil for a tasty side dish.