A top-down view of a pile of assorted anti-inflammatory foods on a quartz countertop.

Snacking gets a bad rap, and I’m here to defend its honor. Snacking is not innately unhealthy. It can be a great way, in fact, to stabilize blood sugar between meals.

It is true, though, that most convenience snacks are unhealthy. But with a bit of planning, snacking can be good for you.

The Skinny on Anti-Inflammatory Snacks

Inflammation is part of your body’s natural immune response to aid in short-term healing. Persistent, long-term inflammation becomes one of the Four Pitfalls of Health, disrupting homeostasis and contributing to various disease processes in the body.

Typical convenience snack foods are pro-inflammatory, meaning they cause inflammation — and not the helpful kind. Conversely, a diet rich in nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods actively reduces inflammation and provides necessary resources for your body.

Unfortunately, many people unknowingly fuel their inflammation instead of their bodies by eating nutrient-devoid, inflammation-laden snack foods.

For example, current research demonstrates that certain artificial food dyes promote inflammation. Natural plant pigments, however, not only avoid causing inflammation, they also actively fight it.

Quote: 11 Satisfying Anti-Inflammatory Snacks You Can Eat Today

Recommended Anti-Inflammatory Snacks

What should you eat for your afternoon snack? To begin, try something from the list of foods below. Within each, you’ll find powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and/or the plant pigment quercetin.

1. Organic Nuts

High in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts are excellent anti-inflammatory snacks. Eat them plain or in the form of nut butter. I especially recommend walnuts and hazelnuts.

2. Dark Chocolate

Because it contains flavonols that actively reduce inflammation, dark chocolate can be a delightful snack. Take care that the cacao percentage is a minimum of 72%. And don’t overdo it; it’s still chocolate and contains fats. Sprinkle some chunks into your walnuts to keep things in balance.

3. Avocado

High in the antioxidant vitamin E, avocados promote healthy gut flora, which aids in digestion and can prevent inflammation. Try it on some whole-grain, nutty bread.

4. Chickpeas

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are complex carbohydrates that help prevent sugar spikes (a contributor to inflammation). They’re also high in fiber and phytonutrients. Chickpeas can be cooked and eaten as is or used to make hummus or even pasta.

5. Edamame

Rich in antioxidants, edamame is steamed or boiled soybeans (still in the pod).

6. Broccoli

This hearty vegetable is tasty raw, roasted, or steamed. As a sulfur vegetable (and overall wonder-food), broccoli provides a crucial building block of glutathione, a substance our body produces to decrease inflammation.

7. Seeds

Seeds are sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha linoleic acid. Try mixing sunflower and pumpkin seeds with nuts and a small amount of dried fruit for a sustaining trail mix.

8. Berries

High in antioxidants and anthocyanins, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries reduce inflammation.

9. Apples With Cinnamon

Apples — and especially the skin — contain vitamin C. (Since you’re eating the skin, get organic if possible.)

Cinnamon is a well-known anti-inflammatory, so sprinkle some on your apple slices. Eat them plain, or dipped in organic walnut or hazelnut butter.

10. Popcorn

In moderation (so as not to spike your blood sugar), antioxidant-rich popcorn can be an excellent anti-inflammatory snack. Be sure to pop kernels on the stove — not in a microwaved bag — to avoid inflammatory chemicals and coatings.

11. Orange Slices

These are rich in vitamin C and delicious. Notice, however, that orange juice didn’t make this list; it’s too sweet. Whole fruits provide the fiber to counteract the sugar, but fruit juices spike your blood sugar horribly.

Infographic: 11 Satisfying Anti-Inflammatory Snacks You Can Eat Today

Anti-Inflammatory Snacks: Final Thoughts

Snacking can be a great way to curb hunger and reduce inflammation at the same time. But remember, your snack can quickly go from anti-inflammatory to pro-inflammatory if you smother it in cheese or mix it with M&M’s. Stick to whole, unprocessed snacks to satisfy your hunger and avoid the inflammatory junk!

David C. Rosenberg

Dr. David Rosenberg

Dr. Rosenberg is a board-certified Family Physician who obtained a BS in Chemistry at Georgia's Mercer University in 1983 and a medical degree from the University of Miami in 1988. He completed his residency in Family Medicine at The Washington Hospital in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1991 and then practiced Emergency Medicine at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for two years. In 1993 he started private practice in Jupiter.

Dr. Rosenberg has been married to his wife Mary for 38 years and they have three grown children together. Some of his interests include being a huge baseball fan, sailing, snow skiing, self-development, and learning to play piano.