Just be sure your plate sports many colors of the rainbow, since different colors neutralize different oxidants. “The anthocyanins in cherries, for example, contain enzymes that [appear to] mimic the effects of [NSAIDs] without the side effects,” says weight loss coach and nutritionist Jonny Bowden, PhD, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (Fair Winds Press, 2007). A compound in the allium family of vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks and shallots) called diallyl disulphide also appears to fend off degrading protein enzymes present in people with osteoarthritis.

Other research suggests that eating vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood.

Best Sources: Colorful fruits and veggies like blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, spinach, kale, broccoli, eggplant and bell peppers

Olive Oil

How much: Two to three tablespoons daily

Why: Olive oil is made up largely of healthful, monounsaturated fat. It’s anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy and it’s tasty, too. But having the right type of fat isn’t the oil’s only value. In fact, experts claim at least half of its health benefits come from the olives, not the oil.

“What makes olive oil so healthy is that it’s a delivery system for antioxidant compounds called polyphenols in the olives,” says Bowden.

Ever notice a scratchy sensation in the back of your throat after dipping your bread in olive oil? That’s the phenolic compound, oleocanthal, one of the most concentrated anti-inflammatory compounds in olive oil. “This compound inhibits activity of COX enzymes, with a pharmacological action similar to ibuprofen,” says Ordovás. Inhibiting these enzymes dampens the body’s inflammatory processes and reduces pain sensitivity. So it’s no wonder this oil has been linked with a reduced risk of a variety of chronic diseases.

Best sources: Extra virgin olive oil. It goes through less refining and processing, so it retains more nutrients than standard varieties.

Beans

How much: About one cup, twice a week (or more)

Why: Beans are loaded with fiber, a nutrient that helps lower CRP, an indi­cator of inflammation found in the blood. At high levels, CRP could indicate anything from an infection to RA.