Foods That Are Good For Arthritis

Making informed dietary choices can help in managing arthritis symptoms. Read about the top 10 foods that battle inflammation and improve your overall joint health.

By URLife Team
12 Oct 2023

Arthritis affects 15 per cent of Indians. Arthritis can significantly impact one's quality of life, posing challenges in performing everyday tasks like climbing stairs or cooking.


But this doesn’t mean that these symptoms can’t be managed. Many individuals dealing with arthritis are willing to go beyond traditional medication and introduce lifestyle changes that can help alleviate symptoms.


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Dietary choices have become a topic of great concern and curiosity among people living with arthritis, sparking increased exploration and interest. It's important to note that while there is no magical food or special diet that can miraculously cure arthritis, it underscores the need for a cautious and discerning approach when considering dietary advice. Ensuring a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for individuals dealing with arthritis.


Role of Diet in Managing  Arthritis

In recent years, an increasing number of studies have attempted to explore the role and impact of nutrition in both rheumatoid arthritis prevention, as well as in the management of the disease.


According to a 2018 study issued in the Autoimmune Review, dietary factors may influence specific types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. As a result, modifying your dietary choices could potentially offer relief from arthritis symptoms.


Another study has looked at a general anti-inflammatory diet and its impact on arthritis. According to a 2020 report published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in a crossover trial, 50 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to an intervention diet containing a portfolio of suggested anti-inflammatory foods. After 4 months, the trial indicates positive effects of a proposed anti-inflammatory diet on disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.


Certain foods possess anti-inflammatory properties, making them valuable as a complementary treatment for arthritis. The Mediterranean diet, in particular, has shown promise in alleviating pain and reducing inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis, says a 2018 study in Clinical Nutrition.


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Foods For Arthritis

Incorporating these foods into your diet can be a flavourful and effective way to manage arthritis symptoms and promote overall well-being.

1. Fruits

Packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, cherries can help combat arthritis pain. Numerous fruits such as apples, grapes, oranges, and grapefruits are abundant sources of compounds known as flavonoids and polyphenols, including quercetin, anthocyanins, and citrus flavonoids. Polyphenolic flavonoids are linked to antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.


Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and pomegranates, in particular, stand out as rich sources of a diverse range of dietary polyphenolic flavonoids. In 2018, a study published in Food & Function highlighted the protective role of fruits and their polyphenols in research related to both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This underscores the potential benefits of incorporating these fruits into one's diet as a natural means of supporting joint health and managing arthritis symptoms.


2. Vegetables

Including vegetables in your diet is a wise choice, but when it comes to arthritis, colourful vegetables take the spotlight. Dark leafy greens, broccoli, beets, sweet potatoes, and cabbage are particularly beneficial for individuals with arthritis. These veggies are rich sources of antioxidants, polyphenols, fibre, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.


The antioxidant properties of these nutrients in colourful vegetables are closely tied to immune support and anti-inflammatory processes.

  • Vitamins like A and carotenoids, present in abundance in red and orange-hued vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and red bell peppers, are known to contribute to immune function, potentially offering valuable benefits for those managing arthritis.
  • Vitamin K deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. Incorporating these vitamin K-rich vegetables such as turnip greens, spinach, Kale and broccoli into your diet may contribute to better bone and cartilage health, which is especially important for those dealing with osteoarthritis. 


Some cooking tips to help you retain the nutritional value of your vegetables:

Have It Raw

Whenever possible, lightly cook your vegetables or enjoy them in their raw form to minimise the breakdown of essential nutrients.


Use Gentle Methods

Choose gentle cooking methods like steaming or sautéing over high-heat techniques such as boiling or roasting. These methods help preserve the integrity of the nutrients.


Pair with Healthy Fats

Carotenoid compounds and Vitamin K are better absorbed when consumed with some healthy fats. Consider sautéing vegetables like spinach in a drizzle of olive oil or use hummus as a dip for your carrot sticks to enhance nutrient absorption.


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3. Omega-3 fatty acids

A 2018 study in The Open Rheumatology Journal states that fish, seafood, nuts, and seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids; can help ease joint pain and stiffness. In addition to the omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in seafood, vitamin D is another valuable component found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna. Vitamin D has been associated with a reduction in rheumatoid arthritis.


The same study also shows that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil have anti-inflammatory effects, benefiting arthritis patients. You can also include almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and pistachios in your diet as these nuts are rich in healthy fats and can aid in reducing inflammation. Moreover, they belong to the protein food group, making them valuable plant-based sources of both protein and fibre.


4. Legumes

Legumes, such as beans, peas, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and lentils are versatile ingredients in the Mediterranean diet and are prized for their rich fibre content and plant-based protein. Legumes are packed with essential nutrients, including iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines as mentioned in the Harvard School of Public Health recommend incorporating about 3 cups of legumes into your weekly diet, which is around ½ cup of beans each day.


Here are some practical ways to incorporate more beans into your diet:

Add to Salads

Enhance the nutritional content of your salads by topping them with black beans for both protein and a delightful flavour.


Mix in Soups

Elevate the heartiness of your soups by tossing in peas or lentils. They contribute not only a pleasant texture but also extra plant-based protein and fibre.


Make Hummus

Create homemade hummus using chickpeas as the base. This dip pairs well with veggies, pita, or as a sandwich spread.


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5. Whole grains

Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet, sorghum, and whole grain cereals are nutritional powerhouses, offering more antioxidants, fibre, and are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals like vitamin E, B vitamins, selenium, and magnesium, finds a 2020 study in Food Chemistry.


These compounds provide valuable anti-inflammatory properties that can be particularly beneficial for individuals with arthritis while also promoting overall health. A review conducted in 2017 issued in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, indicated a correlation between higher total fibre intake and a reduced risk of osteoarthritis symptoms. Including a variety of whole grains in your diet is a wise choice for joint health and general well-being.


6. Tea, Spices and Herbs

Replacing salt with a variety of herbs and spices can be a flavourful way to enhance your meals while reaping the potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits they offer. Consider using ingredients like turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, and chilli powder, all of which contain potent plant compounds known for reducing inflammation and alleviating arthritis symptoms.


Additionally, many teas are packed with bioactive polyphenolic compounds that provide significant antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, potentially offering relief to individuals with arthritis. A 2018 research in Clinical Nutrition has shown that green tea can improve disease activity in those with arthritis, and green tea extract may control pain and enhance knee joint function in adults with osteoarthritis.


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Preparing an arthritis-friendly diet can be an effective strategy to alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. By centering your meals and snacks around a diverse array of colourful, whole foods, and by reducing your consumption of saturated fat and highly processed items, you can take meaningful steps towards managing arthritis.


However, before making significant dietary changes, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider. They can offer guidance tailored to your specific needs and ensure that dietary modifications align with your overall health and wellness goals.




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