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This One Diet Can Help You Fight Inflammation, Study Says

Hint: Whole grains and vegetables can go a long way.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham
Fruits and veggies

If you're trying to eat healthier, you probably know that you should swap out red meat and other foods loaded in saturated fat for lean protein options with healthy fats, such as salmon. Still, you could be putting yourself at risk for hypertension (also referred to as high blood pressure) and certain cancers if you're not factoring in inflammation as well.

Now, researchers have identified a diet that can help prevent inflammation. As it turns out, the traditional Tanzanian diet yields significantly less inflammation than the typical Western one. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).

The study, published in Nature Immunology, looked at how the health of Tanzanians living in urban areas (who tend to have a more western diet, similar to ours in the U.S.) compared to those living in rural areas, whose diet tends to be more traditional. They found that the former showed more inflammation than the latter, which suggests that the more traditional diet can have major health benefits. So what are some traditional Tanzanian foods you could be adding to your diet?

"What we have observed is that traditional diets in Tanzania that contain high amounts of products containing flavones, including millet, sorghum, and vegetables, have anti-inflammatory properties," corresponding author Mihai G. Netea, PhD told Eat This, Not That!

"This is likely to contribute to a more balanced immune response, with an absence of low-grade inflammation that we know is associated with metabolic and cardiovascular complications."

The Tanzanian diet also includes a wide diversity of foods, rich in all of the macronutrients (fats, protein, and carbs) which is key for maintaining optimal health, as Wafaie Fawzi, DrPH, MBBS, MPH, MS, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor of nutrition, epidemiology, and global health tells us.

"For maximizing health, a balanced diet is essential. Tanzanian traditional diet includes a diverse foods diet that promotes healthy living, including a mix of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes," he says.

The typical Western diet, meanwhile, features a large "consumption of unhealthy foods including large amounts of red and processed meat, and refined carbohydrates, and sugar," he adds.

So, are you ready to kick inflammation to the curb? Be sure to check out What Is Millet and How Do You Cook It? and learn more about sorghum here, so you can test out some of the key staples of the Tanzanian diet yourself!

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more
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