Whole grains (brown rice, bulgur wheat, oats): These fight inflammation by lowering blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation associated with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. When overweight people followed a whole-grain diet for 12 weeks, they lost weight and saw a 38% drop in CRP levels, compared with others who ate refined grains, according to Penn State researchers. What’s more, whole grains improve your body’s response to insulin, help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of heart disease, according to Harvard researchers. Aim for three or more servings each day (one serving equals a slice of bread or 1⁄3 cup of cooked brown rice).
Tip: Go for chewy, not fluffy; that means breads with whole-grain chunks and old-fashioned or steel-cut oats.