Frozen anti-inflammatory foods can be as healthy as fresh. Don’t ignore the freezer section at the grocery store! There, you can find a variety of delicious antioxidant-rich whole foods that may help decrease inflammation.

Leafy greens, blueberries, avocado and fresh fish are foods that come to mind when talking about the top anti-inflammatory foods. While these are fresh foods that can be found at the grocery store and farmers’ markets, don’t overlook items in the frozen food section. Not only is frozen fare equally as nutritious as fresh (sometimes even more so), the convenience factor can’t be beat.

Best Frozen Anti-Inflammatory Foods

1. Edamame

“Frozen edamame is a must for every freezer because it’s easy, delicious and healthy, with anti-inflammatory compounds called isoflavones,” says Kristi Ruth, RD, LDN.

Studies suggest that isoflavones specifically target inflammatory molecules in the blood. She says that frozen shelled edamame can easily be defrosted by leaving them in the fridge overnight or by boiling for a few minutes. As for how you use them? “Edamame makes a delicious standalone side dish, as well as a wholesome and colorful addition to burrito bowls, salads, pasta dishes and Asian stir-fries,” says Ruth, adding that edamame can even be used in place of chickpeas to make a delicious hummus.

2. Wild Blueberries

Wild blueberries are a specific type grown in Maine that are smaller and two times more concentrated in antioxidants than conventional ones, according to Amy Gorin, M.S., RDN, an inclusive plant-based dietitian in Stamford, Connecticut. While these anti-inflammatory effects are felt throughout the body, research suggests that blueberries can be particularly beneficial for cognition and brain health.

“Regularly eating wild blueberries has been proven to help improve memory and slow brain aging,” says Gorin. Need ideas for using frozen blueberries? Christina Badaracco, M.P.H., RD, recommends adding frozen blueberries as a topping to cereal, oatmeal or yogurt, cooking them into a sauce or jam, blending into a smoothie, mixing into a grain or vegetable salad, or stirring into batter for pancakes, bread or muffins.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is anything but basic. “My favorite go-to frozen food is broccoli,” says Christa Brown, M.S., RDN. Brown keeps broccoli on hand because it’s an easy addition to a stir-fry, side dish, baked dish or breakfast omelet. She also loves that broccoli has just 30 calories per cup and is an excellent source of vitamin K.

“This vitamin has antioxidant properties to protect the cells from being damaged by free radicals,” Brown says. Broccoli is also a cruciferous vegetable, which means it also offers bioactive compounds that appear to have anti-inflammatory effects, particularly when it comes to cancer prevention.

4. Chopped Onions

Save money and time and fight inflammation? Yes, please! “Onions are a staple in many savory recipes, and it’s often more economical and convenient to add frozen chopped onions instead of fresh,” says culinary nutritionist Robin Plotkin, RDN. She adds that “frozen onions work well in most recipes as a substitute for fresh, as long as the onion isn’t the star of the dish.”

And onions also contain anti-inflammatory compounds. “Onions, garlic and herbs in the allium family are all anti-inflammatory due to their organosulfur compounds and quercetin,” explains Bridget Swinney, M.S., RDN. She admits that it can be easy to skip the onions in a recipe to save time, something you don’t have to do if you use frozen.

5. Cherries

Cherries are one fruit that you may forget about after their summer season, but they can work year-round if you buy them frozen. “My favorite frozen food is a mixture of sweet and tart cherries. Frozen cherries are packed with polyphenols, which are linked to less inflammation,” says Elizabeth Ward, M.S., RDN, co-author of The Menopause Diet Plan: A Natural Guide to Hormones, Health, and Happiness.

In fact, research suggests both sweet and tart cherries may lower C-reactive protein, a blood measure used to assess inflammation in the body, and may even offer pain relief. Wondering how to use frozen cherries other than tossing them in a smoothie? Here’s Ward’s favorite way: “Most days, I microwave a cup of cherries and mix them into plain nonfat Greek yogurt for a snack.”

6. Salmon

Salmon is one of the best frozen anti-inflammatory foods. Refrigerated fish only has a small window before it goes bad, which is why keeping fatty fish like salmon and tuna in the freezer is key, suggests Kristin Draayer, M.S., RDN. These fish are a great source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. “Consumption of EPA and DHA has been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and interleukin-6,” says Draayer.

She also adds that frozen fish is a convenient way to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet: “Fish not only freezes well, it’s also very versatile, making for a quick and delicious dinner option in a pinch.”

7. Avocado

Fairly new to the freezer section, this is one of two items on the list that you may not have noticed, but frozen avocado halves and chunks are quickly becoming a popular grocery item, says Erica Julson, M.S., RDN.

“It’s a great way to get some healthy fats into your diet,” she says. And it’s those fats that appear to work together with avocado’s vitamin E, fiber and phytochemicals to quell inflammation. Toss frozen avocado in smoothies, or defrost it and spread on toast, Julson suggests.

8. Chopped Spinach

“My favorite anti-inflammatory frozen food is chopped spinach,” says Julson. “I always keep a bag in my freezer. Sauté with some garlic and olive oil for a super-quick and delicious side dish.” And Julson isn’t the only spinach fan. Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., RDN, of Bucket List Tummy, also keeps frozen spinach around. “Frozen spinach is high in iron, phytochemicals, vitamin K, folate and vitamins

A and C, vitamins with antioxidant-like properties. Unlike with fresh spinach, these nutrients don’t decrease over time,” says Schlichter. She suggests tossing thawed frozen spinach into smoothies, pestos or soups, or adding it to a stir-fry for extra nutrition.

9. Butternut Squash

Mashed or cubed, it really doesn’t matter! Frozen butternut squash is a favorite for calming inflammation for Elysia Cartlidge, RD. “Frozen butternut squash can be an excellent anti-inflammatory food since it’s rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, both powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from cell-damaging free radicals,” she says.

Cartlidge like to toss frozen cubes into soups, side dishes or casseroles, and puree it into sauces for an extra dose of nutrients. Sauces are another great place to use frozen mashed butternut squash if you can find it.

10. Turmeric

Here’s the other item you may find surprising: frozen crushed turmeric. Gorin points to Dorot Gardens as one of several lines offering frozen garlic, ginger and herbs. In regard to turmeric’s role in inflammation, “the spice is very anti-inflammatory and studies show it may even help control knee pain as well as ibuprofen,” says Julson.

11. Cauliflower

Frozen riced cauliflower should become a staple of your freezer because you can toss together a quick “rice” side dish in a matter of minutes. It’s also a favorite of Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, who keeps both riced cauliflower and cauliflower florets on hand. “Cauliflower is rich in a group of compounds called flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

It’s easy to steam, mash or incorporate into risotto,” she says. You can even use frozen cauliflower to make a pizza crust for this Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower Pizza—just be sure to thaw and drain it well when substituting for fresh.

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