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The #1 Food To Give Up to Lower Inflammation, Says Dietitian

Ditching this food from your diet can improve your health and wellbeing in a hurry.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Whether you're dealing with pain in your joints or digestive distress, virtually everyone experiences inflammation from time to time. And while injury and disease are often the culprits behind this painful process, there's yet another factor at play when it comes to experiencing inflammation: your diet.

While adding certain anti-inflammatory foods to your meal plan can help reduce the regularity and severity of the inflammation you experience, there may be an even easier way to protect yourself—and cutting out a single food is the best way to start.

This Popular Juice Will Reduce Inflammation In Your Body, Says Dietitian

Megan Byrd, RD, founder of The Oregon Dietitian, says that removing high-fructose corn syrup from your diet may be the simplest way to reduce inflammation fast.

How high fructose corn syrup causes an inflammatory response

"High-fructose corn syrup actually adds a lot more fructose to your diet than you would normally eat otherwise, which drives an unnaturally high inflammatory response to this sugar in your body," Byrd explains. "It has been shown to cause an increase in uric acid production, which in turn fuels the body's inflammatory response."

Most research done on the negative effects of high fructose corn syrup have been conducted using sweetened beverages; however, some of these findings can be applied to the unhealthy foods that contain high fructose corn syrup.

Byrd cites a 2015 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that, among a group of 47 overweight and obese study subjects, those who drank one daily serving of a sucrose-sweetened soft drink high in fructose experienced a 15% increase in circulating uric acid as compared to those who drank diet soda, water, or partially skimmed milk.

What's more, a 2016 study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes revealed that, among a group of 1,209 adults between 20 and 30, those who consumed beverages with excess free fructose five or more times each week were three times as likely to have arthritis, a form of joint inflammation, as those who consumed these drinks less frequently or not at all.

Foods with high fructose corn syrup to avoid

High fructose corn syrup is often found in drinks like soda, but you can also find HFCS lurking in many breakfast foods like bread (yes, bread!), toaster pastries, fruit jams, and pancake syrup (Aunt Jemima, we're looking at you).

This sweet ingredient also appears in condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce.

How to reduce inflammation and HFCS intake

That doesn't mean you need to eat a diet entirely devoid of sweet foods to keep inflammation at bay, however.

If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, there are fewer inflammatory options on the market. "Natural sugars and ingredients are always a better bet for your health than ultra-processed, manmade sugars," says Byrd.

If you want a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth at breakfast and other meals, check out these 25 Low-Calorie Desserts to Buy Under 150 Calories, and for the latest healthy eating news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah