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  • Writer's pictureGeorge V

Arthritis : A Recommended Diet

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

No diet or supplement can permanently cure osteoarthritis, but certain diets can help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms.

Why eat healthily when you have osteoarthritis?

A balanced, nutritious diet will give your body the tools it needs to prevent joint damage from getting worse, which is essential for people with osteoarthritis.

Certain foods are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and following an anti-inflammatory diet can improve symptoms. Getting enough antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, can help prevent further joint damage.

Osteoarthritis and cholesterol:

People with osteoarthritis are also more likely to have high blood cholesterol levels, and reducing cholesterol may improve symptoms of this disease. By following the right diet, people can quickly improve their cholesterol levels.

Osteoarthritis and overweight:

Being overweight can put extra strain on joints, and excess fat in the body can make inflammation worse. Maintaining a healthy weight can improve osteoarthritis symptoms.

Foods to eat in case of osteoarthritis

These foods can allow you, if you include them in your diet, to strengthen your bones, your muscles, your joints but also to help your body fight against inflammation.

Oily fish:

Oily fish contain a lot of omega 3 fatty acids which are beneficial for your health. These fats have anti-inflammatory properties which are necessary for people with osteoarthritis.

  • How much: three to four ounces of fish, twice a week. Arthritis experts claim more is better.

  • Why: Some types of fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. One study found those who had the highest consumption of omega-3s had lower levels of two inflammatory proteins: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6. More recently, researchers have shown that taking fish oil supplements helps reduce joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness and disease activity among people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

  • Best sources: Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, scallops and other cold-water fish.

If you do not want to consume fish, other alternatives exist with fish oil, krill oil, or even flaxseed oil.

Vegetable oils:

Besides oily fish, certain vegetable oils can reduce inflammation.

  • Best sources: Extra virgin olive oil (it goes through less refining and processing, so it retains more nutrients than standard varieties), Avocado oil, Safflower oil, Walnut oil.

  • How much: Two to three tablespoons daily.

  • Why: Olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has properties similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Oleocanthal is said to inhibit activity of COX enzymes, with a pharmacological action similar to ibuprofen. Inhibiting these enzymes dampens the body’s inflammatory processes and reduces pain sensitivity. Avocado and safflower oils have shown cholesterol-lowering properties, while walnut oil has 10 times the omega-3s that olive oil has.

Fruits & Vegetables:

  • Best sources: Colorful fruits and veggies — the darker or more brilliant the color, the more antioxidants it has. Good ones include blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli.

  • How much: Aim for nine or more servings daily (one serving equals one cup of most veggies or fruit or two cups of raw leafy greens).

  • Why: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. These potent chemicals act as the body’s natural defense system, helping to neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage cells.

    • Red and Purple fruits : research has shown that anthocyanins found in cherries and other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have an anti-inflammatory effect.

    • Citrus fruits : fruits like oranges, grapefruits and limes are rich in vitamin C. Research shows getting the right amount of that vitamin aids in preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints.

    • Green leafy vegetables: like spinach, collard greens, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, are rich in vitamin D and stress-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and can also strengthen the immune system, helping the body fight infections.

    • Nightshade Vegetables : including eggplant, tomatoes, red bell peppers and potatoes, are disease-fighting powerhouses that boast maximum nutrition for minimal calories.

    • Vitamin K-rich veggies: like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.

    • Broccoli : contains a compound called sulforaphane, which researchers believe may slow the progression of osteoarthritis. This vegetable is rich not only in vitamins K but also in vitamin C, as well as calcium, which strengthens bones.

    • Garlic: according to several studies, scientists believe that a compound called diallyl disulfide, found in garlic, may work against enzymes in the body that damage cartilage.

Nuts :

  • Best sources: Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds.

  • How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (one ounce is about a handful).

  • Why: Nuts are good for the heart and contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and fiber. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, which strengthens the immune system. Nuts are jam-packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. And though they’re relatively high in fat and calories, studies show noshing on nuts promotes weight loss because their protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats are satiating.

Whole Grains:

  • Best sources: Eat foods made with the entire grain kernel, like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice and quinoa. Some people may need to be careful about which whole grains they eat. Gluten — a protein found in wheat and other grains — has been linked to inflammation for people with celiac disease (CD) or gluten sensitivity.

  • How much: Eat a total of six ounces of grains per day; at least three of which should come from whole grains. One ounce of whole grain would be equal to ½ cup cooked brown rice or one slice of whole-wheat bread.

  • Why: Whole grains contain plenty of filling fiber — which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Some studies have also shown that fiber and fiber-rich foods can lower blood levels of CRP, an inflammatory marker.


  • Best sources: Small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans rank among the best antioxidant-containing foods.

  • How much: About one cup, twice a week (or more).

  • Why: Beans are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients, which help lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. At high levels, CRP could indicate anything from an infection to RA. In a study scientists analyzed the nutrient content of 10 common bean varieties and identified a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Beans are also an excellent and inexpensive source of protein and have about 15 grams per cup, which is important for muscle health.

Dairy products:

Dairy products are foods that are rich in vitamin D as well as calcium. Their benefits allow the solidification of bones but also help the development of muscles. But be careful not to overdo the high-calorie dairy products!

Green tea:

Polyphenols are antioxidants that researchers believe may be able to reduce inflammation and slow the rate of cartilage deterioration. Green tea contains high levels of polyphenols.

Foods to avoid if you suffer from osteoarthritis

To counter the symptoms of osteoarthritis, you need to stop eating foods containing the following elements:

  • Processed sugars: they cause the release of cytokines, which act as inflammatory messengers in the body. The sugars that manufacturers add to sugary drinks, including soda, sweetened tea, flavored coffee, and some fruit juices, are most likely to worsen inflammatory conditions.

  • Saturated fats: Foods high in saturated fat, such as pizza and red meat, can cause inflammation of fatty tissue. In addition to contributing to the risk of developing obesity, heart disease and other conditions, it can worsen the inflammation of arthritis.

  • Refined carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice and chips, promote the production of AGE (advanced glycation end) oxidants. These can stimulate inflammation in the body.

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