Inflammation is an often diabolical term in the healthcare world, but this immune response isn’t all bad. The short-term types help your muscles bounce back even stronger after a tough workout. It also defends against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, and promotes healing from injuries. (Those bruises and scabs happen for a reason!)
It’s only when inflammation shifts from a temporary to a chronic problem that it becomes a problem — the kind of condition that can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline, and more.
Lack of sleep, stress, physical activity, autoimmune conditions, smoking and other factors can play a role in chronic inflammation levels. What you put on your plate will do too—like this anti-inflammatory breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But what you eat between those main meals matters too. So we asked Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, a registered dietitian based in Warrenton, Virginia, to take us to her favorite warehouse store. (“Not only do I shop at Costco, but I have to restrain myself when I go out for fear for my bank account,” she says.) The good news is that the anti-inflammatory snack costs less than 20 cents. one portion. But first, let’s talk about some of the things she recommends looking for when you want an inflammation-reducing bite.
What to Look for in an Anti-Inflammatory Snack
While there’s no “best” anti-inflammatory diet for every person on Earth, the basic principles apply to most of us, with foods high in fiber and antioxidants being the focus. That’s why the recipe Eat well Tag as anti-inflammatory for guides like our anti-inflammatory meal plan for beginners and 7-day anti-inflammatory meal plan for healthy aging tick one or more (ideally at least two) of the following boxes:
- More than 4 micrograms per serving vitamin D
- More than 1 cup per serving green leafy vegetables
- More than ½ cup per serving frozen fresh or unsweetened berries
- More than ½ cup per serving dark orange or dark green vegetables
- Omega-3 fats sour ffrom fish, nuts or other sources
“Antioxidants help fight inflammation by reducing free radicals, or bad cells in the body that can later turn into harmful cells,” says Thomason. And as far as gut-friendly fiber goes, she adds, “Increased fiber intake correlates with reduced markers of inflammation in the body.”
The Best Snacks at Costco to Help Lower Inflammation Levels
When she shops at Costco, Thomason swears by this anti-inflammatory snack: Kirkland Signature Walnut Halves. The satisfying 3-pound peanut butter pouch has a whopping 45 servings, and is only $8.99. So why walnuts? “Up to 1 ounce of walnuts — or about ¼ cup — a day can reduce inflammation in the body,” says Thomason. And 2020 research published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology support it.
Per ¼ cup serving, you’ll score:
- 2 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of total sugar
- 5 grams of protein
- 0.9 mg iron (4% Daily Value)
- 30 mg calcium (2% DV)
- 130 mg potassium (2% DV)
But wait, there’s more.
Omega-3? Inspect. In fact walnuts are the only nut that is an excellent source of a type of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Frontier in Pediatrics. Research published in Nutrition & Metabolism showed that ALA can reduce at least one major marker of inflammation — and the 2½ grams of ALA in walnuts per serving covers more than your entire omega-3 requirement for the entire day. (Women should aim for at least 1.1 grams, and men should aim for 1.6 grams, according to the National Institutes of Health.)
Fiber? you bet. A handful contains 2 grams, which is about the same as the fiber content of 1 cup of raw broccoli or half a medium apple. Studies, such as this 2021 article published in Genome Medicinehave found that fiber can improve your gut microbiome and reduce inflammation that causes many chronic diseases.
Antioxidant? Abundance. In fact, of all the tree nuts, walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts contain some of the most powerful antioxidants — which are known to fight inflammation. Phytosterols, for example, have been shown to help keep cholesterol levels under control Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Treatment. And research published in Antioxidant demonstrated that ellagitannins provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Because Costco bags are so large, Thomason says, “I prefer to keep them in the freezer or fridge if I’m not planning on eating them in about a month or two,” because the oils can go rancid pretty quickly when left untouched. out at room temperature.
As far as enjoying it, Thomason digs it in its unadorned glory. But to further amplify its anti-inflammatory impact, she occasionally invites a few friends over to a snack festival:
- ¼ cup walnuts + 1 apple
- ¼ cup walnuts + 1 ounce dark chocolate
- ¼ cup walnuts + 1 cup popcorn + 1 tablespoon M&Ms + 1 tablespoon raisins
A super-affordable 3-pound bag of walnuts is our dietitian’s pick for the best anti-inflammatory snacks at Costco. Walnuts are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, and also provide some of the fiber you need every day. Remember that what you eat frequently is more important than what you eat once—or even once a day. So we recommend snacking on a handful of walnuts a few days a week as part of an entire inflammation-smart menu, including more of these best foods for fighting inflammation.
“Some amount of inflammation in the body is always going on, and the overall balance of your diet and lifestyle is much more important than one meal,” says Thomason.
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