Which Carbs to Eat or Ditch to Prevent Inflammation?

  • Carbs, including foods high in sugar, are major inflammation drivers. 
  • Eating too many refined and low-fiber carbs can result in blood sugar spikes and increase inflammation. 
  • On the other hand, foods that are high in fiber have a lower impact on your blood sugar levels.

Eating carbs has a significant impact on inflammation. Carbs fuel energy and provide a natural source of dietary fiber, positively affecting your glycemic response (the effect of food on your blood sugar levels) and gut health. Minimally-processed foods rich in carbohydrates, like whole bread, contain powerful antioxidants and bioactive compounds that help prevent free radical damage and minimize inflammation. However, eating too many refined and low-fiber carbs can result in blood sugar spikes and increase inflammation. 

Carbs to Eat

Corn Tortillas

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Compared to flour tortillas, corn tortillas contain lesser calories and carbs and higher fiber, so they trigger glycemic response less. Corn tortillas are also more filling. 


Berries contain antioxidant compounds that treat and prevent inflammation. They are also full of fiber, so they induce a lower glycemic response than grapes and bananas. 


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A healthy gut is key to preventing inflammation. Yogurt contains probiotics that support gut health. The plain variants that contain live bacteria cultures are highly beneficial for the gut. 


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Aside from carbs, fiber, protein, potassium, edamame also contains isoflavones, a bioactive compound that specifically combats inflammatory molecules in the body. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes provide your daily carb needs and have a lower glycemic impact than brown rice or whole-wheat bread. These starchy vegetables also contain vitamin C and beta-carotene, which prevent inflammation. 

Vegetable Rice

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Riced cauliflower or broccoli lowers your overall carb intake, and it also contains sulfur-containing compounds that ward off inflammation. 


Quinoa contains extra fiber, protein, and nutrients and has a lower glycemic index than brown rice or whole-grain bread and pasta.

Legume-based Pasta

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Pasta made with flour from chickpeas, fava beans, or lentils is high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients that promote satiety and reduce glycemic impact.

Dark Chocolate

A healthy way to get your occasional sweet fix is to eat an ounce serving of dark chocolate made with 70% or more cacao, which has anti-inflammatory polyphenols and only a few grams of added sugar. 

Carbs to Ditch

Doughnuts and Breakfast Pastries

Most breakfast pastries contain saturated fats that are top triggers of inflammation. The added glazes, icings, and fillings drive inflammation further. 

Brightly Colored Candies

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Candies contain concentrated sugar and immediately affect your blood sugar, thus the term “sugar rush”. However, your blood sugar will also quickly drop, and the rollercoaster effect can cause inflammation. Also, artificial colorings can act as irritants and cause further inflammation.

Sugary Drinks

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Sodas, lemonades, and sweet teas contain comparable amounts of sugar, which are apparent inflammation triggers.

Muffins or Bagels

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While muffin and bagels have less added sugar than cinnamon or doughnut, they are usually oversized and made with refined flours, so their glycemic impact is almost similar to a doughnut.

Packaged Snack Foods with More Than 5 Ingredients

Packaged snack food with five or more ingredients usually contains added sugar and chemical additives that are unhealthy and inflammatory. 

Specialty Coffee Drinks

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Drinking more than two cups of specialty coffee drinks a day can lead to inflammation. The added syrup and sugar can add up to your carbs and calorie consumption. 

Sugary Cocktails

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While alcohol can help reduce inflammation when taken in moderation, frozen adult beverages like margaritas are high in calories and carbs from sugar, so reach for a glass of wine, beer or liquor instead. 

Source: Eating Well

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