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Grains, Nuts, Seeds & Pulses

List of anti-inflammatory grains, nuts, seeds and pulses

Whole grains
A recent article by the Whole Grains Council cited information from three sources, which provided evidence of the importance of whole grains in reducing inflammation. The Journal of Nutrition (2014) stated that children who ate whole grains were less likely to develop inflammatory diseases in later life. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research (2014) provided evidence that whole grains consumption could reduce the level of C-reactive proteins by over 20%, and Gut Microbes (2013) reported that regularly eating at least two different whole grains beneficially altered the microbes in the gut resulting in the alleviation of systemic inflammation.

Copper bracelets have been used as a traditional remedy to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. Barley contains high amounts of copper, which is an essential mineral that not only facilitates the body’s absorption and utilisation of proteins and other nutrients, but might also help reduce inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. As always, grains within the anti-inflammatory diet should be whole and not processed.

Barley grass
Barley grass, which is the leafy development stage of the plant before it begins to form its grains is bursting with antioxidants which counter the damaging effects of free radicals. These antioxidants are thought to inhibit the body’s inflammatory responses mechanisms and provide relief for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other synovial inflammatory conditions.

Brown rice
Brown rice is simply whole grain rice, i.e. one that has not been processed. As whole grains it contains high levels of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre provides your digestive tract with an essential workout and leaves you feeling fuller, which means you are less tempted to snack on unhealthy foods between meals.

Buckwheat is a pseudo cereal. This means it is not a true cereal crop like wheat barley and oats, which are grasses, but a fruit plant from which the seeds are harvested. It originates from Asia and was first cultivated in China. The key anti-inflammatory compounds within buckwheat are the flavonoids rutin and catechin. Rutin has been used for treating inflammation of the digestive system, arthritis and inflammation due to fluid retention. It also helps reduce bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. One of the most common culinary uses for buckwheat is for noodles for example soba noodles in Japanese restaurants are made from buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is also gluten free which makes it an ideal substitute for wheat flour in baking.

Millet is a good choice for those following an anti-inflammatory lifestyle because unlike many other grains it is not usually subject to processing and is eaten as a whole grain, which means it retains all of its dietary fibre. It is therefore beneficial for those suffering from inflammatory bowel conditions.

Quinoa, a relative of beetroot and spinach originating from South America, is currently the popular grain of choice for those who are gluten intolerant. It is an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans because it contains all the protein types necessary to sustain life. This relative of beetroot and spinach can also be considered a super-food. The anti-inflammatory benefits of quinoa stem from its unique variety of phytonutrients, which include the anti-oxidants quercetin and kaempferol as well as omega-3 fatty acids.


Almonds are rich in anti-oxidants including Vitamin E which prevent free radicals from damaging the body’s cells through oxidisation, which is itself a form of inflammation. They also contain magnesium which helps to control the blood’s level of C-reactive protein, which signifies inflammation in the body.

Flax seeds
Flax seed is very rich in ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) or plant-based omega-3, which plays an important role in controlling inflammation

It is the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts that provide their anti-inflammatory properties.


Soya is naturally rich in isoflavones, which studies have shown can reduce inflammation in the cardio vascular system. As is the general rule with the anti-inflammatory diet, the more processed the food, the fewer retained benefits, so choose soy products with this in mind.

Cocoa contains anti-inflammatory compounds called flavanols that reduce inflammation by inhibiting the activity of the body’s inflammatory pathways.