Lower Inflammation and Reduce Heart Disease Through Diet

by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional

Cardiovascular disease and breast cancer are the two leading causes of death for women in the United States. Both are associated with inflammation, so it makes sense to attempt to reduce inflammation for those with cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

Chronic inflammation leads to the release of inflammatory cytokines. These inflammatory cytokines contribute to cellular damage, which leads to disease onset or progression. Chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and diabetes all have an inflammatory component.

There are medications to reduce inflammation, such as steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), but all medication comes with side effects. In this case these may include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, weight gain, increase blood pressure, and immune suppression.

Alternate treatment options are desirable for treating inflammation, such as dietary interventions. Improving dietary quality with an emphasis on specific anti-inflammatory nutrients is a safe strategy for reducing inflammation and disease risk.

A diet that’s low in added sugars, contains omega-3 fatty acids, and is rich in dietary fiber may help to reduce inflammation.

Avoid or limit foods high in added sugar, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, cakes, pastries, donuts, fruit drinks, ice cream, pudding, cookies, candy, pie, and cobblers.

The World Health Organization recommends fewer than 10 percent of total daily calories come from “free sugars.” These are defined as all sugar added to foods by a manufacturer, cook, or consumer, as well as sugars naturally found in fruit juice, honey, and syrup.

Added sugars promote inflammation and potentially compromise the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in an anti-inflammatory diet.

Fish high in omega-3’s include salmon, albacore tuna, herring, sardines, rainbow trout, anchovies, and Atlantic mackerel.

Some foods rich in dietary fiber include oats, brown rice, quinoa, prunes, raisins, blueberries, apricots, cantaloupe, plums, apples, beans, lentils, spinach, corn, and broccoli.

Research to definitively determine the effectiveness of a diet low in added sugar and high in dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids is on-going; however, at this time you can safely implement these strategies and monitor your own results.

For further guidance specific to lowering blood pressure to reduce heart disease risk, access my free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure.


Calder PC, Ahluwalia N, Albers R, et al. A consideration of biomarkers to be used for evaluation of inflammation in human nutritional studies. Br J Nutr. England 2013:S1-34.

Who Study Group on Diet NaPoND, World Health O. Diet, nutrition, and the prevention of chronic diseases; report of a WHO study group. Geneva: Word Health Organization 1990.

Ma T, Liaset B, Hao Q, et al. Sucrose counteracts the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil in adipose tissue and increases obesity development in mice. PLoS One. 2001;6(6)L:e21647.

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Meet Our Writer
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so you can live life and enjoy your family for years to come. Lisa's passion for health comes from her own family history of heart disease, so she doesn't dispense trendy treatments; Lisa practices what she teaches in her own daily life. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques.