One of the most common questions that people with any type of arthritis ask is: Is there an anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis? Or rather, what can I eat to help reduce inflammation in my joints? The answer, fortunately, is that many foods can help.

Following a diet low in processed foods and saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and some seeds is good for your body. If this advice sounds familiar, it’s because these are the principles of the so-called Mediterranean diet , which is often touted for its anti-aging and anti-disease powers.

The anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis

Studies confirm that eating these foods can do the following:

  • More stable blood pressure
  • Protects against chronic diseases ranging from cancer to stroke
  • Helps in arthritis by slowing down inflammation
  • Joints benefit as well as heart
  • It leads to weight loss, which makes a big difference in managing joint pain.

Whether you call it a Mediterranean diet, an anti-inflammatory diet, or just an arthritis diet, here are these key foods to take a look at and see why they are so good for common health. Try to eat them organic, that is, they do not contain pesticides or are transgenic because these characteristics are also usually inflammatory.


How much: Health authorities such as the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend three to four ounces of fish, twice a week . Arthritis experts claim that more is better.

Why: Some types of fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation . A study of 727 postmenopausal women, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2004, found that those with the highest omega-3 intake 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, the duration of morning stiffness, and disease activity among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Best sources of omega 3: salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies, scallops, and other cold-water fish . If you don’t like fish, take supplements. Studies show that taking 600 to 1,000 mg of fish oil daily relieves joint stiffness, tenderness, pain and swelling. Fish is an excellent option in the anti-inflammatory diet.

Nuts and seeds

How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of walnuts a day (one ounce equals about a handful).

Why: Multiple studies confirm the role of nuts in an anti-inflammatory diet. One of them published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011, found that over a 15-year period, men and women who ate the most nuts had a 51 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease ( such as rheumatoid arthritis), compared to those who ate less walnuts. Another study, published in the journal Circulation in 2001, found that subjects with lower levels of vitamin B6 – found in most nuts – had higher levels of inflammatory markers.

More good news: Nuts are packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat . And while they’re relatively high in fat and calories, studies show snacking on nuts promotes weight loss because their protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats are filling.

Best sources of nuts: walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds.

Fruits and vegetables for the anti-inflammatory diet

How Much: Aim for five or more servings a day (one serving = 1 cup of most vegetables or fruits or 2 cups of raw leafy greens).

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

Research has shown that anthocyanins are found in cherries and other red and purple fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Citrus fruits – such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons – are rich in vitamin C. Research shows that having the right amount of vitamin C helps prevent inflammatory arthritis and maintains healthy joints.

Other research suggests that eating vegetables rich in vitamin K, such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale, and cabbage, dramatically reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.

Better sources: colorful fruits and vegetables, the darker or brighter the color, the more antioxidants it has. Good ones include blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale, and broccoli.

Green tea

Green tea is packed with polyphenols, antioxidants that are believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. Studies also show that another antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Vitamina D.

Vitamin D can help reduce RA- related pain . Get more vitamin D in your diet by eating salmon , eggs, and mushrooms .  Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin supplement if you are not getting enough of this vitamin in your diet .

Olive oil

How much: Two to three tablespoons a day.

Why: Olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This compound inhibits the activity of COX enzymes, with a pharmacological action similar to ibuprofen. Inhibition of these enzymes dampens inflammatory processes in the body and reduces sensitivity to pain.

Best Sources: Extra virgin olive oil goes through less refining and processing, so it retains more nutrients than standard varieties. And it is not the only oil with health benefits. Safflower and avocado oils have shown cholesterol-lowering properties, while walnut oil has 10 times more omega-3s than olive oil.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices add a ton of flavor and have anti-inflammatory benefits without adding calories . Try spicing up your food on your anti-inflammatory diet with the use of spices like curry , ginger, and turmeric.


Studies have shown that people who regularly ate foods from the allium family – such as garlic, onions, and leeks – showed fewer signs of early osteoarthritis (OA). Researchers believe that the diallyl disulfide compound found in garlic may limit the enzymes that damage cartilage in human cells.
Excellent for: osteoarthritis

Bone broth

One particularly important nutrient if you suffer from arthritis is bone broth. Bone broth is a simple broth made by cooking animal bones (free range) in water for several hours (usually between 24 and 48 hours). In some cases, vegetables, herbs, or spices are also added to the broth to make it more flavorful. When the broth is boiled for long periods of time, the bones release the nutrients within them making them usable by a person who drinks the broth. Nutrients are: Collagen, Magnesium, Protein, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Glycine, Proline, Chondroitin Sulfate, Glucosamine Sulfate.

What to avoid eating if you have arthritis

Just as there are foods that benefit or support against the symptoms of arthritis if you consume them, there are foods that enhance it. These are some that you should definitely leave out in case they accentuate your pain.

Solanaceae (aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, etc.)

Nightshade vegetables, including eggplants, tomatoes, red bell peppers and potatoes, are disease-fighting powerhouses that feature maximum nutrition for minimum calories.

They also contain solanine, a chemical that has been flagged as a culprit for arthritis pain. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that nightshades trigger arthritis flare-ups, however many people experience significant relief from symptoms when they avoid nightshade vegetables. So the doctors say, if you notice that your arthritis pain subsides after eating them, give them a try and try eliminating all nightshade vegetables from your diet for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.

Gluten-free foods

Researchers aren’t sure, but some people have found that their arthritis worsens after eating certain foods, such as gluten, a protein complex found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, and many industrialized foods. more that they contain it in their ingredients or that they are cross-contaminated with gluten like cereals that essentially do not contain it like oats. People with arthritis are encouraged to follow a diet low in salt, fat, and carbohydrates to avoid inflaming their joints.

Dairy products

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can flare up in response to specific proteins found in dairy products . Some people with rheumatoid arthritis who report milk intolerance have antibodies to milk proteins. The body forms these antibodies to protect itself from what it mistakenly perceives as a harmful substance, but the antibodies attack other parts of the body besides milk. Cut dairy products out of your diet to see if that reduces your RA symptoms.
Try almond milk and coconut milk for anti-inflammatory alternatives.


Beans such as lima beans, lentils, and navy beans have high amounts of purine, which is then metabolized to uric acid when eaten. This can make arthritis inflammation worse.

Give up refined sugar and sweets

While certain carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet, refined and sweet sugars are not, as much as we can enjoy them. Refined sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, are empty calories devoid of any nutrients.

It is a poison by itself. Cutting down on refined sugar is even more important for people with rheumatoid arthritis because chronic inflammation in RA impairs the body’s ability to break down sweets. Risk of cardiovascular disease is also high for people living with RA, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol is crucial.

Don’t drink coffee

The health effects of coffee are controversial, especially when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis . Coffee consumption is linked to the development of RA positive anti-CCPs, a specific subtype of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism . While research is still ongoing, you may want to consider removing the cup of coffee from your diet.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *