Here’s How You Can Reduce Inflammation

When you think of inflammation, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

Perhaps, it’s a family member with arthritis and joint pain, a very common form of chronic inflammation that affects nearly 54 million Americans. 

Or, maybe, it’s a time when you scraped your knee as a kid –– a form of acute inflammation, where the wound becomes puffy and red for a few days. 

Either way, an immune response is triggered. 

The main difference between the two is the timeframe for which the white blood cells stay localized in the injured or affected area. Acute inflammation is short-lived, and chronic inflammation is not. 

Though this immune response is necessary to heal things like infections, burns, and allergies, when this inflammatory reaction sticks around for too long, it can begin to cause damage to the body. Damage that can lead to heart disease, autoimmune diseases, GI diseases, and even cancer. Hussain confirms this, stating, “Inflammation triggered by oxidative stress is the cause of many chronic diseases.”

But, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

In a recent study, Sanchez-Rodriguez investigated the role of virgin olive oil in reducing inflammation through a randomized double-blind control study (this type of study is well-known in the scientific community as reliable because it leaves out bias). Results showed that virgin olive oil high in phenolic compounds, enriched with triterpenes from the actual fruit of the olive, protected DNA from oxidative stress. 

Hussain supports these findings by discussing the anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), concluding the importance of incorporating them into the diet. 

Furthermore, Schwingshackl reviewed over 30 research papers to conclude that daily consumption of olive oil resulted in a “Significantly more pronounced decrease in C-reactive protein and interleukin- 6 as compared to controls.” 

Well, what does this mean?

C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are both inflammatory markers that are analyzed with lab tests. When these labs are elevated, inflammation is present. If these labs are decreased to be within normal limits, inflammation is not present. This study, along with the work of Sanchez-Rodriguez and Hussain tells us that extra virgin olive oil (and its abundance of polyphenols) is an anti-inflammatory food. 

So are you ready to add more extra virgin olive oil to your diet? 

Fight inflammation with this recipe for White Fish!

Written by Chloe Morrill

Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can olive oil help with inflammation?
Extra virgin olive oil contains numerous phenolic compounds that exert potent anti-inflammatory actions and possess similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen.

Q: Is there any difference in anti-inflammatory properties between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil may be better for inflammation as extra virgin olive oil contain natural antioxidants and vitamins, which are often lost during processing of regular olive oil.