Nearly three million people are diagnosed with arthritis every year. It’s a chronic illness that can have agonizing lasting effects. Although there are some medications, therapies, and surgeries that can reduce symptoms, diet also plays a large part in managing arthritis. Switching to foods full of omega-3s, antioxidants, and vitamins can attempt to relieve the pain. Keep reading to see which foods and drinks are the best for people with arthritis.
Look For This Antioxidant In Green Tea
According to Healthline, green tea has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It’s packed with polyphenols and antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and slow down the process of cartilage destruction.
Another antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has been proven to block the molecules that cause joint damage for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea can also help with concentration and mood and decreases the chances of heart disease and stroke. Also, the polyphenols can reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
Olive Oil Didn’t Only Help Humans With Arthritis
PubMed Central found a study where mice were fed extra-virgin olive oil for six weeks. The result included a halted development of arthritis, reduced joint swelling, slowed cartilage destruction, and decreased inflammation.
The health benefits of the extra-virgin olive oil were very similar with humans because of its many anti-inflammatory elements. It also has several heart-healthy fats and oleocanthal, which have similar properties to many anti-inflammatory medicines that are given to those with arthritis.
Salsa Is Packed With Vitamin C
Healthline notes that vitamins are a crucial element for fighting arthritis pain. One food packed with a lot of vitamin C happens to be salsa. It usually contains tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables that not only have vitamins, but also fiber and antioxidants.
Registered dietician Andrea Dunn recommends using salsa as a dip for vegetables or crackers, as opposed to fatty store-bought dressings and sauces. Salsa is relatively easy to make at home, but is commonly found at most grocery stores.
Quinoa Is A Great Whole Grain Substitute
Whole grains should be a staple in anyone’s diet, especially those with arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, quinoa is one of the healthiest whole grains because it contains high levels of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
The Arthritis Foundation suggests cutting out things like white bread and white rice and replacing them with whole grains such as quinoa. This “can lower levels of compounds in your body that trigger flares.” Also, whole grains can help with weight loss.
Broccoli Is Rich In Calcium And Vitamins
Broccoli is one of the healthiest foods in existence; rich in vitamins K and C and is also a great anti-inflammatory. A study by PubMed Central found that over a thousand women who consumed it had decreased levels of inflammation.
This superfood also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which has been proven to prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. The Arthritis Foundation also says that it contains a lot of calcium and is perfect for keeping bones strong and healthy.
Garlic Is Scientifically Proven To Ease Arthritis Symptoms
Garlic is known for its strong anti-inflammatory abilities, which aim to fight arthritis. Researchers conducted a study where they focused on 1,082 sets of twins where one twin ate garlic and the other did not. The twin that ate the garlic had a reduced risk of osteoarthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation found that the compound diallyl disulphine in garlic may have the ability to limit the cells in the body that cause damage to cartilage. Also, a study by PubMed Central said that garlic can lower the risk for cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
Dark Chocolate Is Dietician Approved
Spine Universe says that dark chocolate is filled with a lot of anti-inflammatory properties. It contains compounds that fight inflammation such as antioxidants and phytochemicals (chemicals found in plant foods).
Although it’s an anti-inflammatory aimed at easing the symptoms of arthritis, registered dietician Andrea Dunn urges people to not go overboard. “Just keep portions small to limit the saturated fat and calories,” said Dunn. She recommends eating about half of an ounce because it contains all the flavor with few calories.
Prunes Lower The Risk For Arthritis
According to the Arthritis Foundation, fruit is something that people with arthritis should eat regularly. It contains large amounts of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, which can lower the risk for arthritis, heart disease, and stroke.
Prunes are a perfect example of a healthy fruit. Healthline says prunes build bones and muscles, lower blood pressure, help digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, and are high in potassium, iron, and vitamins. If eating them doesn’t sound too tempting, try having them in juice.
A Small Serving Of Salmon Goes A Long Way
Those with arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, have an increased risk of poor bone health. That means they need to eat foods that support bone growth. One food that can help with that is salmon.
“There is often bone loss around inflamed joints, and [medication] can be hard on your bones,” said Anca D. Askanese, MD, clinical director of rheumatology at Columbia University. Salmon is high in vitamin D and just three ounces of it can provide all the recommended amount for the whole day. It also has omega-3 fatty acids, which lower inflammation and support heart health.
Beans Help With Weight Loss And Joint Damage
Not all beans have the power to fight arthritis, but the ones that do their best include pinto, kidney, and red beans. The Arthritis Foundation states that these are packed with fiber, protein, folic acid, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Keeping a healthy weight is important for people with rheumatoid arthritis because it reduces the pressure on weight-bearing joints. A registered dietician named Lona Sandon says, “[Beans] can keep you feeling full on fewer calories, which can help you drop extra pounds.”
Spinach Does The Body Good
Spinach is a top superfood known for being full of nutrients and antioxidants. Healthline shared that many of its components are able to help decrease the inflammation caused by arthritis.
It’s also a good source of vitamins B2, K, A, and C, folate, manganese, magnesium, and iron. This means that spinach maintains bone health, which is crucial for people with arthritis. According to Health, spinach produces flavonoids called kaempferol and quercetin. These reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes and have positive effects on memory.
Ginger Can Be Used As Medicine
The chemicals in ginger have anti-inflammatory properties, which are something that people with arthritis need. Not only is ginger something that can be used as an ingredient in food, but it’s also widely used as a medicine in China and India.
Healthline states that other than helping with arthritis, ginger has health benefits that can reduce the risk of ulcers, diabetes, bacterial infections, migraines, and more. For example, a study conducted in 2016 had researchers give fish a ginger supplement. This boosted their immunity and helped them fight certain infections.
Why Arthritis Patients Should Eat Cherries
Cherries and tart cherry juice are scientifically proven to help decrease symptoms of arthritis. Healthline found that participants in a research study who were given tart cherry juice for six weeks had significantly decreased symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduced inflammation.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the anthocyanins in cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect. Not only do cherries reduce inflammation for people with arthritis, but they have also been proven to stop the frequency of gout flare-ups.
Walnuts Are Chalked Full Of Omega-3s
NPS Medicinewise says that omega-3 fatty acids help with arthritis symptoms because they reduce inflammation. There are plenty of omega-3s in walnuts, but they shouldn’t be eaten in high quantities. This is due to them being high in calories.
They also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, which make them a good source of healthy fat. Researchers found that those who ate walnuts and other nuts for 15 years were half as likely to develop anti-inflammatory diseases such as arthritis than those who didn’t eat them.
Oranges Provide Lots Of Vitamin C
It’s important to incorporate a large amount of vitamins into your diet, especially if you have arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation suggests that people eat oranges because they have a ton of vitamin C.
Getting enough vitamins prevents inflammation and helps those with osteoarthritis maintain healthy joints. Other citrus fruits have lots of vitamins as well including grapefruits, limes, and lemons. According to Healthline, the antioxidants in oranges can lower the risk for heart disease and kidney stones.
Tofu Does The Body Good
One of the most common staples in a non-meat diet is tofu. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for taking care of inflammation in people with arthritis.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, tofu is a type of soybean that is low in fat and high in protein and fiber. BBC Good Food states that tofu also contains all nine essential amino acids, which support muscle and bone growth. Those who don’t enjoy the taste of tofu can also get a lot of the same nutrients from other soybean products such as edamame.
Grab A Spoonful Of Yogurt
A food group that those with arthritis should make sure to eat is dairy. Low-fat yogurt contains calcium and vitamin D, which can support bone strength and ease inflammation symptoms.
ABC News says that yogurt contains a lot of probiotics and this aides in gut health and digestion. If yogurt doesn’t tempt your taste buds, there are other low-fat dairy products that are recommended for people with arthritis such as milk and cheese. Those that can’t eat dairy can try leafy green vegetables as an alternative.
Brown Rice Lowers CRP Levels
Something that people with arthritis need to be aware of is their C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. When those get too high, it can cause arthritis symptoms to become more severe.
Not only do high CRP levels cause arthritis to flare up, but it also leads to heart disease and diabetes. The Arthritis Foundations suggests eating whole grains such as brown rice to lower the levels of CRP in the bloodstream. Brown rice lowers inflammation, is high in fiber, and can lower cholesterol.
Berries Reduce Inflammation
Arthritis symptoms can seem never-ending, but there are certain foods that may help to soothe them. According to Healthline, berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are jam-packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
That means that berries have the capability to decrease inflammation. A study by PubMed Central found that over 38,000 women who regularly ate strawberries were 14 percent less likely to have an elevated level of inflammation in their bloodstream. Also, berries are rich in quercetin and rutin, which are plant compounds full of health benefits.
Arthritis Hacks For Chopping Kale And Other Veggies
Getting plenty of servings of vegetables is key for people with arthritis. Dark, leafy vegetables such as kale are full of rich nutrients and antioxidants, which reduce joint damage.
According to registered dietician Lona Sandon, kale and other dark green vegetables can lower inflammation in the body, are full of fiber, and barely have any calories. They can ease stress on joints and even help people trying to lose weight. Sandon suggests buying pre-cut vegetables at the store if chopping food is too painful.
Try To Live Gluten-Free
In recent years it’s been more common to see both grocery stores and menus that include gluten-free options. According to Harvard Health Publishing, gluten is a protein most commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley that can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine.
The main group of people affected by gluten are those with celiac disease, but arthritis patients with a gluten intolerance may get a lot of inflammation by consuming it. Health expert and nutritionist Joy Bauer also notes that celiac and arthritis are autoimmune diseases that often come together.
It’s Time To Take Candy Out Of Your Diet
Candy is always something that should be consumed in moderation because it tends to have a high sugar content. When blood sugar levels start to increase it triggers an inflammatory response in the body called cytokines. This causes arthritis symptoms to become stronger.
Those who long for a sweet snack should skip the candy and try healthier options such as fresh fruit, nuts, or sunflower seeds. One of the worst kinds of sugars to eat are processed ones, which are mainly found in candy.
Put Down The Bacon
Bacon is one of the trendiest foods in the United States, with people adding it to their salads, donuts, burgers, and more. It is also loaded with saturated fat that increases cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Health.com notes there was a 2015 study where bacon caused cancer due to its carcinogens.
The amount bacon can disrupt the lives of people with arthritis depends on its fat content and how high of a temperature it was cooked. Bacon causes high levels of inflammation when it contains advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
Hands Off The Tomatoes
Although tomatoes are a fruit, they can still have detrimental effects on those with arthritis. The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine stated that tomatoes are part of the nightshade plant group. Nightshades can have harmful substances that contribute to increasing inflammation.
While tomatoes are used in countless dishes, people with arthritis need to figure out a substitute that won’t worsen their symptoms. Other fruits and vegetables that would be more acceptable include apples, pears, green beans, and spinach.
Butter Is Definitely Not An Option
The Arthritis Research Campaign agrees that those who are overweight or obese are more prone to develop tougher cases of arthritis. Butter is one of the main foods that can lead to a bunch of health issues because it’s rich in calories, high in fat, and can cause swelling in the body.
The same goes for butter substitutes such as margarine. These are made from trans fats and have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. On the bright side, there are other things that can be used in place of butter including apple sauce and mashed bananas.
Keep Those Pizza Slices To A Minimum
Pizza is a staple in the American diet, but it, unfortunately, has the ability to cause many health problems. The combination of the cheese, tomato sauce, bread, and toppings would make someone with arthritis get unprecedented levels of inflammation.
One of the main ways it triggers the symptoms is the high amount of saturated fat. According to the health site Eat This, Not That!, pizza and other saturated fats cause the body’s fat tissues to become inflamed. This can also lead to heart disease.
You Better Ditch The French Fries
French fries don’t really have nutritional value for anyone, but should specifically be avoided with arthritis sufferers. When the Mount Sinai School of Medicine did a study on fried food they found that the less amount of it people ate contributed to “reduced inflammation and actually helped restore the body’s natural defenses.”
Fried foods also have advanced glycation end products, which are harmful toxins that can damage certain proteins in the body. The salt added to french fries may result in the inflammation of joints as well.
Slow Down On The Coffee
A study from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health suggests that drinking coffee can lead people to develop arthritis. People who drank at least four cups of coffee daily were twice as likely to develop arthritis than those who drank less or not at all.
Although there are some health benefits to drinking coffee it should always be done in moderation. Every situation is different. For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis should definitely avoid it, but those with psoriatic arthritis may not be affected.
How To Eat Eggs If You Have Arthritis
While eggs are a great source of protein they also contain certain things that worsen arthritis symptoms. Eggs are known for being high in cholesterol and the yolks are filled with saturated fat. Also, the yolks have arachidonic acid, which produces prostaglandin and causes inflammation.
Since it’s mainly the yolk that causes the health issues people with arthritis should be fine if they stick to egg whites only. Make sure to avoid cooking them in butter or adding salt, cheese, or meat.
White Rice Has No Nutritional Value
Nutritionist Joy Bauer claims that refined carbohydrates are one of the worst things someone with arthritis can eat. These are made by removing the bran and germ from whole grains, which are the two parts that contain the most nutrients.
Arthritis gets worse when refined carbs with pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokines enter the body. White rice can also spike blood sugar because it lacks nutrients. It’s advised for people to switch to whole-grain options in all of their foods including cereal, bread, and pasta.
Arthritis Patients Need To Steer Clear Of Ice Cream
Ice cream may be a delicious treat enjoyed by people all over the world, but it’s a nightmare for those with arthritis. It contains large amounts of saturated fat and added sugars, which is a one-way ticket to inflammation.
Many arthritis patients are eliminating dairy products after the Dietary Inflammatory Index claimed that saturated fat is linked to inflammation. Luckily, those with a sweet tooth can opt for the numerous dairy-free ice cream options made with products such as coconut milk or soy.
What’s Hidden Inside Frozen Meals
Many frozen foods contain excessive salt and preservatives that are added to make the meal last longer. Eating large amounts of these things can cause inflammation of the joints. Also, a decent number of frozen meals are loaded with sodium. People with arthritis need to limit their sodium intake.
When those with arthritis are using corticosteroids for treatment it allows their body to hold onto more sodium than normal. According to Amy Gorin Nutrition, it’s recommended to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
White Flour Is Highly Inflammatory
A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that white flour is one of the main causes of inflammation. They discovered that “white flour accentuates the omega-3 deficiencies that powerfully impact joint pain by suppressing prostaglandin E3.” When your body isn’t receiving enough omega-3s it is more prone to developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Some of the most common foods that contain white flour include white rice, potatoes, bread, and crackers. Those who don’t want to give up these foods can look up ways to cook them that increases resistant starch.
If Your Fruit Is In Syrup We Have Bad News For You
Fruit is usually a healthy alternative to a lot of other snacks out there, but there’s one kind that people with arthritis should avoid. The fruit that comes packaged in heavy syrup is one of the worst things for someone with arthritis to eat because it triggers the release of proteins called cytokines.
Cytokines are most associated with the body’s increase in inflammation. This doesn’t mean that all fruit is bad to eat. Dried and canned fruit without syrup or just regular fruit are fine for people with arthritis to enjoy.
Milk Is Not Meant For Adults
Many nutritionists agree that around 60 percent of the population has a hard time digesting milk after childhood. The proteins found in milk are one of the leading causes of inflammation in the body. Luckily, not all dairy products are going to increase inflammation.
It’s best to eat dairy products with probiotics including unsweetened Greek yogurt and fermented milk with yeast and bacteria. Milk is mainly meant to be ingested by babies and small children who are still growing, so when adults with arthritis drink it they can experience a great deal of discomfort.
There’s A Secret Molecule Inside Sausage
Sausage is one of the most processed meats of all time. It’s filled with AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that are known to increase inflammation and worsen arthritis symptoms. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that red meat contains a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5Gc.
When that molecule is ingested it has the possibility of triggering a chronic inflammatory response for those with arthritis and can also lead to cancer and heart disease. If you do need to eat red meat choose grass-fed animals with lean cuts.
Don’t Pass The Pretzels
Pretzels are a salty, filling, and addictive snack and have quite a negative effect on arthritis patients. A study called Clinical Evidence for the Microbiome in Inflammatory Diseases observed that the “sub-optimal biomes” found in products such as pretzels triggered inflammation for people with arthritis.
In order to have a healthy microbiome people need to eat whole fiber-rich foods including chickpeas, pistachios, and quinoa. Since the grains in pretzels are refined they lack vitamin B and fiber and can hasten the onset of degenerative diseases including cancer, coronary disease, and diabetes.
Avoid Those Sugary Sodas
Sugar is one of the leading causes of inflammation and a product that contains some of the largest amounts of it is soda. For example, a 12-ounce can of Sunkist orange soda contains 44 grams of sugar, which far exceeds the maximum daily allotment.
Sugar is bad enough on arthritis patients, but sugar-sweetened soda has been found to increase arthritis symptoms in women. A study in the US National Library of Medicine stated that people who drink only one sugary soda a day increase their risk for arthritis by a whopping 63 percent.
Why It’s Important To Use Balanced Cooking Oils
Almost every time someone cooks a meal they will end up using some form of cooking oil, whether that be corn, soybean, canola, avocado, or sunflower. They are all rich in omega-6 fatty acids but are lacking nutritional omega-3s. Nutritionists claim that the imbalances with the omega-6 and omega-3 can lead to inflammation.
The imbalanced ratio also breeds illnesses such as heart disease or cancer. It’s crucial that people eat oils with a good omega-6 and omega-3 balance, which include macadamia oil or extra virgin olive oil.
Cheese Is More Than Just Addicting
Cheese has the ability to be addictive because it contains a protein called casein that can trigger cravings in the brain. It also has a high amount of saturated fats, which can cause inflammation for people with arthritis and heart disease.
The Arthritis Care & Research Center found that cheese has the ability to give people excruciating knee pain, even though milk made knee pain better. Those who usually get their protein from dairy products can switch to high-protein vegetables such as spinach, lentils, beans, and tofu.
Baked Goods Aren’t So… Good
Cinnamon buns are one of the most popular baked goods in the United States. It’s impossible to walk around a mall in America without being led to the Cinnabon thanks to the smell of the product.
Unfortunately for arthritis sufferers, it’s best to avoid baked goods, “Trans fats are linked with inflammation in the body—and regularly consuming these fats increases your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, lowers your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and increases your risk of heart disease.”
Margarine Isn’t Better Than Butter
Earlier we briefly touched on how margarine is just as bad for arthritis sufferers as butter is. The reason, according to Meg Marie O’Rourke, RD-LDN, is how the trans fats are linked to health problems including heart disease.
The reason margarine is high in trans fat is because, “Vegetable oils such as corn oil are put through a process called hydrogenation, changing the chemical formation from a Cis to a Trans. Trans fats are found in many [sweets such as cakes, cookies, and pie crust] and increase biomarkers of inflammation.”
Refined Sugars Aren’t So Sophisticated
Everyone knows that too much sugar is not healthy. For arthritis sufferers, refined sugars are the worst of the worst. Refined sugars are those that have been processed and extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets.
According to experts, “High amounts of added sugar in your diet can also exacerbate inflammation. Additionally, if your diet is high in sugar, it may be lower in anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables and fruit. Limit added sugar by reading ingredient labels, and look out for sneaky sources of hidden added sugars.”
Excess Sodium Is A Major Problem
If you haven’t guessed already, too much salt is a bad thing for anyone with arthritis. While the seasoning can help bring out much needed flavor in food, it can also wreak havoc on the health of arthritis sufferers.
Lisa DeFazio, MS, RD. says, “Salt may result in inflammation of joints… Avoid preservatives and additives. Less salt may help manage arthritis, so avoid prepared meals and limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day.”
Red Meat Stimulates Inflammation
Just like you want to avoid fried foods if you have arthritis, you also will want to steer clear of red meats. Although delicious, red meats contain advanced glycation end products at high levels.
When red meat is grilled, roasted, fried, or broiled, these products help stimulate inflammation. Chicken fried steak might be hard to pass up, but it’s better for your helath to try. Healthy alternatives to red meat include chicken and fish, as long as they are not fried, of course.
Pasta Is A Refined Carbohydrate
Another white flour product to avoid that we haven’t mentioned yet is pasta. The common food is a refined carbohydatre and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels, increasing inflammation in the body as a result.
The good news is if you can’t quit pasta, there are plenty of non-white flour made pastas available for purchase today. Just make sure you check the ingredients first to make sure the pasta is going to be body friendly.
Leave Chinese Takeout At The Restaurant
Don’t feel like cooking when you get home from work? Chinese takeout can be a popular choice for an easy dinner after a long day. The problem is that this meal tends to be high in Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG).
MSG is a common additive in several foods such as deli meats, fast foods, and salad dressings, but is most often associated with Chinese food. It can trigger inflammation, and should be avoided as a result.
Mayo Shouldn’t Be Used In Everything
You might not realize just how much food mayo is used to make. Not just a sandwich condiment, it can also be used in salad dressings and even baking. That’s right, some cake recipes call for mayo to help keep it moist.
The problem is that, for as widely used as mayo is, it’s one of the worst foods you can put in your body. It’s full of advanced glycation end products and saturated fats. That’s a double whammy of inflammation triggering products!
The Trick With Trans Fats
Trans fats are something you should obviously avoid if you have arthritis, but how do you identify if food contains it? Many products will label on the front of the packaging whether or not they contain trans fats. Others won’t.
Even worse, on many food labels, trans fats aren’t even labeled as trans fats. Instead, they are labeled as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,” which honestly doesn’t sound that much better to us.
Fried Chicken, A Ticking Time Bomb
Not only is fried chicken bad for you because it is, well, fried. It also tends to be high in salt and fat. When food is fried, it can be overcooked, destroying any nutritional value and adding carcinogens into your body.
This, like so many other foods on this list, will lead to inflammation. Instead of fried chicken, opt for grilled, but still be careful to monitor how much salt is being used in the cooking process.