Do your joints often feel stiff when you first wake up in the morning? Is winter a season of aches and pains due to your arthritis? Has your knee pain been flaring up more often than it once did? If you’ve been struggling with joint pain, talk to your doctor about methods of prevention and treatment. In addition, keep in mind that taking care of yourself through exercise and a well-balanced diet is a good way to support your joint health. While no food is a cure-all for arthritis, experts recommend that you incorporate several specific foods for joint health into your diet.
The Best Foods for Joint Health
Several studies have found “reasonably strong” evidence that eating cherries can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and benefit people who suffer from arthritis (source). Cherries have also been shown to reduce the frequency of gout attacks (source). If you don’t like cherries, you could try eating raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries instead, as they also contain anthocyanins, a pigment found to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Try to include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout in your diet a couple of times each week to fight inflammation. You may also benefit from fish oil supplements. Not only are fatty fish good for joint health, but also they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart.
Virgin Olive Oil
A Mediterranean diet is a good way to fend off painful joints, so consider cooking that fatty fish in virgin olive oil. It contains chemicals that help lower levels of inflammatory enzymes, similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), making it a good choice for people suffering from arthritis (source).
Be sure to get your veggies in! More specifically, be sure to include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts in your diet. They all contain the compound sulforaphane, which studies have shown may prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis (source).
Milk is often associated with bone health, but did you know that it can also benefit your joints? Drinking low-fat or skim milk is associated with a slower progression of knee osteoarthritis (source). A good source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein, milk may also prevent gout (source).
Whole grains, including oatmeal, have been linked to reduced inflammation (source). Oatmeal also contains numerous phytochemicals, which have anti-inflammatory effects. Plus, oatmeal is a great source of fiber.
Nuts pack a lot into a small package: protein, nutrients, vitamins, and more. Walnuts even contain omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the body (source). Stick with raw, unsalted walnuts for a healthy snack, and be sure to portion out your serving size so that you don’t overeat because they’re quite high in calories.
Now that we’ve discussed foods for joint health, you may be wondering which foods can have a negative impact on your joints. Experts recommend that you avoid foods containing trans fat and sugars. In addition, steer clear of red meat and refined grains like white rice, pasta, and white bread.
Some of these recommendations have strong science behind them, while others are only tenuously linked to better joint health. Luckily, all of these foods are nutritious and would make great additions to your diet, whether or not they minimize your joint pain.
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