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Healthy food choices for people with asthmaFood is medicine. We’ve all heard it before, but what does it mean? You can’t really treat chronic conditions like arthritis with food. Can you? Are there arthritis foods through which you can cure your chronic condition?

Unfortunately, no, you cannot cure arthritis – not with food and not even with traditional medicine. You can, however, make food choices that help fight inflammation, the main characteristic of arthritis. The right food also helps boost your immune system and strengthen your bones to alleviate the painful symptoms of this chronic disease. Keep reading to discover the best foods for arthritis pain relief, plus a few you should avoid. 

Eat Your Broccoli
broccoli arthritis foods

The Mayo Clinic spent more than a decade studying the effects of antioxidant-rich cruciferous vegetables in preventing arthritis. Their findings suggest that eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Is cabbage good for arthritis?

Eating raw cabbage is suitable for people with arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory flavonoids, sulforaphane, and kaempferol. These reduce serum concentrations of inflammatory markers such as interleukin (IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP).

Similarly, people have used cabbage leaf wraps in traditional medicine to reduce pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis. However, it is crucial to differentiate between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a condition where the smooth cartilage covering bones breaks down due to age and other risk factors. Its symptoms are mainly limited to the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, does not occur only as a result of normal bone wear. Its effects are systemic and hard to predict.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Inflammation

The Arthritis Foundation suggests a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and counteract the inflammatory properties of unhealthy fats.

Excellent sources of omega-3 include:

  • Proteins: Grass-fed beef, salmon, sardines, tofu, and navy beans
  • Fats: Fontina cheese, flaxseed oil, olive oil
  • Veggies: Spinach, winter squash, purslane
  • Nuts and legumes: Walnuts, chia seeds, red lentils
  • Spices: Mustard seed
  • Grains: Wild rice

It is much better to make these foods part of your diet than to rely on supplements. Recent studies suggest that omega-3 supplements are associated with an increased likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation in people with high blood lipids. Therefore, using supplements as a therapeutic approach should be discussed with your doctor to weigh the risk and benefits carefully.

arthritis foodsSpice it Up

An easy way to reduce inflammation is to reach for the spice rack, particularly turmeric and ginger.

Turmeric contains curcumin, a terrific anti-inflammatory. You find turmeric and cumin in mustard and curry. Adding it to your diet is simple: just sprinkle a little on your food, and you are good to go. The spice is excellent when added to various types of meat and vegetables. It is a delicious way to flavor rice.

Add piperine (found in black pepper) to get the most out of curcumin. It will enhance the yellow spice’s bioavailability. Moreover, piperine will act as an anti-inflammatory agent to further reduce systemic inflammation.
Ginger is another excellent anti-inflammatory, and it’s also a popular choice for treating an upset stomach. One warning, though: ginger is also a blood thinner. Talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet if you currently take blood-thinning medications.

Here are some great ways to add ginger to your diet.

Get Your Vitamin D

The best way to get vitamin D is direct sunlight, which is also why so many Americans are vitamin D deficient. The amount you get from the sun varies according to skin tone and location, but 20 minutes per day on your exposed skin (no sunscreen) is typically sufficient.

But while the sun is shining throughout the day, noon exposure differs from sunset. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to your shadow. If your shadow is shorter than your height, it’s an excellent time for sunlight exposure.

You can also get vitamin D through your diet, but that’s a little trickier since many foods rich in this nutrient also trigger inflammation. Your best bet is oily fish, which are also a great source of omega-3, so win-win!

If you take a vitamin D supplement, ensure you opt for the highest quality you can afford. Not all supplements are created equal, so talk to your doctor to find out which ones are the best.


You may not have heard of beta-cryptoxanthin, but you likely know her sister, beta-carotene. They’re both members of the carotenoid family and convert to vitamin A in the body.

To get enough of this carotenoid, look for orange foods, the best sources of beta-cryptoxanthin. These include pumpkin, squash, papaya, sweet peppers, tangerines, and apricots. Collard greens are another great source.

Drink Green Teaarthritis foods

 Studies show that the antioxidants in green tea, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), help reduce inflammation and the severity and number of rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups.

It’s best to enjoy your green tea once or twice daily, either hot or cold. However, use tea bags, not powdered green tea mix. Over 90% of the antioxidants found in powdered tea leaves are lost by the time it reaches store shelves. If you want these benefits, using tea bags is much easier (and more effective!).

Lower C-Reactive Proteins with Pomegranates and Tart Cherries

Pomegranates and cherries are excellent sources of a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which reduces CRP levels and other markers of systemic inflammation. It also protects your body’s cells against damage from free radicals.

Anthocyanin is also found in the vegetable family, especially in red cabbage. Few servings per week are enough to notice beneficial effects in the long run.

Sour cherries will help lower nitric oxide levels, which is linked to increased activity of rheumatoid arthritis and frequent flare-ups. They are also a great source of anthocyanin, which makes them excellent for smoothies and breakfast toppings.

Get Your Vitamin C from Foods, Not Supplements

Vitamin C offers loads of health benefits, but, like everything in life, too much can be harmful. Most vitamin C supplements contain several times the recommended daily dose, which may exacerbate your arthritis symptoms. For reference, men only need 90 mg/day, and women need 75 mg/day.

Most plant-based foods are a great source of vitamin C. Look for ways to add oranges, bell peppers, strawberries, mangos, kidney beans, and pineapple to your diet. Skip the supplement and commit to changing your diet.

Cook with Olive Oil

Olive oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties come from the polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids it contains. It’s great for reducing joint pain and stiffness. Adding it to your diet is as simple as using olive oil for cooking your meal instead of using butter and vegetable oils.

One of the essential polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil is oleocanthal, which works similarly to ibuprofen to reduce systemic inflammation. For reference, 50 ml of olive oil contains enough oleocanthal to achieve a similar effect as 10% of the ibuprofen dosage for adults. Additionally, oleic acid, the primary fatty acid in olive oil, can help further reduce inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein.

You can also use olive oil instead of pre-packaged salad dressings, following a three-to-one ratio (three parts olive oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice). Add your favorite spices, drizzle over your veggies, and enjoy!

Look for quercetin

Quercetin is often associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. It is a very potent flavonoid that inhibits histamine by stabilizing the cells which release this compound responsible for local immune reactions. Similarly, quercetin acts on leukocytes, exhibiting a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. This is why a diet rich in quercetin is beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

To get enough quercetin, look for onions, garlic, and leek. Add these to your salad, or use them as toppings for lunch and dinner.

7 best foods for arthritis pain relief

To simplify your diet, it might be easier to start with a checklist. Given the suggestions above, you can include several foods to keep your chronic condition in check.
From breakfast to dinner, these are the 7 best foods for arthritis pain relief:

Nuts and seeds

  • Sour cherries
  • Olive oil
  • Fatty fish
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Onions, garlic, and leek
  • Pomegranates, tangerines, and mango

To supplement this list, add turmeric and ginger and drink one or two cups of green tea.

Inflammatory food arthritis patients should avoidarthritis foods

When relying on food as part of your strategy, it is equally important to learn what to avoid. Certain foods trigger your body’s inflammatory response, which leads to frequent and painful flare-ups.

Which foods should you avoid if you have arthritis? To simplify, practice moderation by following the arthritis food to avoid list:

  • Corn
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Refined grains
  • Junk food, such as chips, french fries, and pizza
  • Sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Packaged foods, which are typically loaded with sugars

By avoiding inflammatory foods and adding healthier options, you’ll likely see improvements throughout your body, not just in your arthritis symptoms. The Standard American Diet relies on processed carbohydrates which contribute to several chronic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and numerous autoimmune diseases.

What vegetables are bad for rheumatoid arthritis?arthritis foods

Although fruits and vegetables are mainly beneficial and help your prognosis, some people experience frequent flare-ups after consuming nightshade vegetables.

Nightshade vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. While the relevant literature is scarce, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the claim that these vegetables may contribute to inflammation.

Some studies suggest that tomatoes increase uric acid, which triggers gout – a form of arthritis that targets joints in the fingers, toes, knees, wrists, and elbows.


Arthritis affects more than 54 million Americans, with that number expected to rise to 78 million adults by 2040. The most common arthritis symptoms are pain, inflammation, and loss of function.

Research suggests that following a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods (and avoiding inflammatory foods) may help alleviate the symptoms associated with arthritis.

If you aren’t sure where to begin, talk to your primary healthcare provider about developing a healthy eating plan to help manage your arthritis symptoms. In the meantime, let food be thy medicine!

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