You’ll find an updated version of my anti-inflammatory diet food pyramid here, which I think will answer most of your questions. As you know, this diet is designed to help prevent the chronic inflammation that contributes to the development of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and other age-related disorders. It is also a cornerstone of treatment for inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
In addition to reducing inflammation, the diet provides steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. If you need to lose weight, it can help with that as well, but the diet isn’t intended as a short-term plan for weight loss. Rather, it is a way of selecting and preparing foods based on scientific research that can help you achieve and maintain optimum health over your lifetime. The first and most important step is to eliminate refined, processed, and manufactured foods, including fast foods.
When you look at the pyramid, you’ll see it includes a wide variety of foods, ranging from lots of fresh vegetables and fruit to healthy fats and proteins. The diet was designed with taste as well as health in mind. It incorporates olive oil, herbs and spices, cooked Asian mushrooms (like shiitake, enoki, and maitake), as well as dark chocolate as a sweet treat. You’ll be eating three to five half-cup servings of whole and cracked grains, such as rice, quinoa and steel-cut oats, plus one to two half-cup servings of beans and legumes including lentils, black-eyed peas and chickpeas. You’ll get five to seven servings of healthy fats, mainly extra-virgin olive oil. (One serving is equal to one teaspoon of oil, two walnuts, one tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed or one ounce of avocado.)
You’ll get plenty of protein, plus omega-3 fatty acids from two to six 4-ounce servings of wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines and Alaskan black cod (sablefish). Other sources of protein include one to two omega-3 enriched eggs per week, high-quality cheese (one ounce equals one serving), yogurt, and occasional lean meat.
For beverages, I recommend two to four cups of white, green or oolong tea daily. If you drink alcohol, feel free to have a glass or two of organic red wine daily.
You can learn more about the food choices you can enjoy by accessing the interactive version of my Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid. Be adventurous and try foods that may be new to you such as Anasazi beans, sea vegetables and bean-thread noodles. Good eating and good health!
Andrew Weil, M.D.