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The #1 Best Snack to Reduce Inflammation, Says Dietitian

It may be tiny, but this popular food can make a big impact on your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Our bodies are very good at what they do. They have intricate systems that help us fight off disease, heal ourselves from injury, and eat delicious food. And one of the many mechanisms our bodies use for helping us out is inflammation. When something happens to us, like an injury or an infection, our bodies use inflammation as a way of healing themselves.

And although this process is necessary for survival, it can turn into chronic inflammation if our body is always in a state of needing healing.

"Chronic inflammation can contribute to several diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, and while things like smoking, drinking, and inflammatory foods can contribute, we have the power to decrease inflammation in our body by implementing some healthier diet and lifestyle changes," says Lauren Harris-Pincus MS, RDN author of  The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.

So when we look for foods that help us reduce inflammation in our body, what we are really looking for are foods that help keep our bodies healthy and functioning properly. And according to Pincus, the best snack to reduce inflammation is blueberries, because of their powerful health benefits and healing properties. Here's why, and for more healthy eating tips, make sure to read The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

How can blueberries reduce inflammation?

Most of the health benefits from blueberries can be found in its skin, in a compound called anthocyanin.

"Anthocyanins are the plant compounds found in the skin of the wild blueberry that gives them their pretty, purply-blue hue," says Pincus, "and a growing body of research suggests these anthocyanins work to reduce inflammation and are beneficial to humans overall."

One of the ways anthocyanin can help with reducing inflammation is through metabolic health. Inflammation has been linked to metabolic disorders such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat. And according to Pincus, blueberries can help decrease the risk.

"Wild blueberries have been shown to help regulate blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity to better control blood sugar levels for better metabolic health," says Pincus.

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Blueberries can also help with inflammation by improving our overall heart and brain health and reducing our risk of certain diseases.

"Blueberries support healthy blood flow, which helps provide the brain with the energy and oxygen it needs to perform optimally," says Pincus.

A report from Advances in Nutrition showed that an increase in anthocyanin intake was associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. This report also found similar results across multiple studies with a decreased risk of coronary artery disease after higher anthocyanin intake.

Because inflammation is our body's way of fighting off something that is "wrong," we can combat this response by healing our body and eating nourishing foods whenever possible.

What are some snacks to make with blueberries?

Pincus also had some suggestions for different ways to eat blueberries so we don't grow tired of them!

"First of all, wild blueberries have more anthocyanins than conventional ones, so look for these in the grocery store if you can," says Pincus.

If you ever get bored with blueberries, try switching it up.

"It's so easy to snack on wild blueberries by stirring them into yogurt or cottage cheese, blending them into a smoothie, or adding them into muffins or energy bars," says Pincus, "or make a chia jam by microwaving wild blueberries until they burst and stirring in chia seeds for a fiber-rich topping on whole-grain toast or crackers."

For more healthy snacking tips, read these next:

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha