His new cookbook “Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food,” features foods he loves to eat, which “just so happen to be the best for me,” he writes. We spoke with Chef Mullen to hear his delicious ways to prepare foods proven to battle inflammation.Here are his top picks:
1. OLIVE OIL: It’s one of the most important ingredients for Seamus Mullen’s cuisine and lifestyle.
The Science: There’s a naturally-occurring chemical (called oleocanthal) found in extra-virgin olive oils that’s a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory agent.
“I actually experimented with cutting olive oil out of my diet and it had a direct effect on my joints,” Seamus Mullen says. After four days of no olive oil, his joints were stiff.
The Art: Aside from the obvious use of it as a cooking oil or salad vinaigrette, Seamus likes to use olive oil to finish dishes. “We use these lovely green unpasteurized olives…and infuse the olive oil with the pits,” he says. It tastes fresh and fruity and can be drizzled on top of vegetables like tomatoes.
Olive oil can also be blended into a purée of beans if you’re making hummus, or act as the base of a Romesco sauce. If you’re not feeling ambitious, drizzle it over your cooked vegetables, or dip some bread in it.
2. ANCHOVIES & SARDINES: Mullen attributes these omega-3 packed foods to fewer symptoms.
The Science: Fish oil can reduce inflammatory mediators and markers. For those with inflamed joints, studies have shown that dietary omega-3s improve morning stiffness, swollen joints, joint pain and fatigue. A bonus for everyone: Consuming foods with omega-3s helps reduce inflammation in the skin, too, and boosts moisture levels, both of which prevent wrinkles.
The Art: “Anchovies are incredibly flavorful and you don’t need to use that much to get a lot of flavor,” Mullen says. Just half a filet of an anchovy can be chopped up and tossed into a vinaigrette.Sardines are easy to buy in a can if you’re pressed for time. They’re not so intimidating atop bread with some fresh lemon juice and olive oil!
3. BROCCOLI: It’s not everyone’s favorite vegetable, but can be dressed up so it’s not so bland.
The Science: Sulforaphanephane, a compound found in broccoli has been shown to help individuals experiencing arthritic joint pain.
The Art: “You can make some blanched broccoli, and toss with olive oil and diced anchovies,” Mullen suggests. That covers three super anti-inflammatory foods in one dish. If you’re not a fan of broccoli, you could sub in cauliflower instead.
4. PARSLEY: You may not be getting a daily dose of parsley—it’s truly an “unsung hero,” as Mullen puts it.
The Science: We’re just now understanding how multifaceted this herb, spice and vegetable is for our health. For one, the chemical “apigenin” has shown promise in battling cancer activity. Parsley also contains carotenoids, which may help reduce inflammation.
The Art: “It’s great to use in smoothies and juices, has a lot of folic acid and gives it tremendous flavor,” he adds. If you don’t have a blender, there are still tons of ways to get your fix.
“It’s great with citrus. Load parsley in your salad, put it in some grapefruit and avocado,” he suggests.