The 10 best foods to eat if you have arthritis

If you have arthritis, you know how devastating this condition can be.

Arthritis is a term for a class of diseases that cause pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. It can affect people of all ages, genders and ethnicities.

There are many different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a type, which develops in the joints with excessive use. Another type is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints (1, 2).

Berries in a bowl on a wooden table

Fortunately, there are many foods that can relieve inflammation and may help relieve some of the joint pain associated with arthritis.

In fact, a survey found that 24% of people with rheumatoid arthritis reported that their diet had an impact on the severity of their symptoms (3).

This article will analyze 10 of the best foods to eat if you have arthritis.

1. Fatty fish

Fatty fish varieties such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

In a small study, 33 participants were fed fatty fish, lean fish or lean meat four times a week. After eight weeks, the fatty fish group had reduced levels of specific compounds related to inflammation (4).

An analysis of 17 studies found that taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids decreased the intensity of joint pain, morning stiffness, the number of painful joints and the use of analgesics in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (5).

Similarly, a test-tube study showed that omega-3 fatty acids reduced several inflammatory markers involved in osteoarthritis (6).

Fish is also a good source of vitamin D, which can help prevent deficiency. Several studies have found that rheumatoid arthritis may be associated with low levels of vitamin D, which may contribute to the symptoms (7, 8).

The American Heart Association recommends including at least two servings of fatty fish in your diet each week to take advantage of beneficial anti-inflammatory properties (9).

Summary: Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 and vitamin D, which can be beneficial in reducing the inflammation and severity of arthritis symptoms.

2. the garlic

Garlic is full of health benefits.

In some test tube studies, garlic and its components have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties. They also contain compounds that can reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia (10, 11).

In addition, it has been shown that garlic has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

In fact, some research has shown that garlic can improve the function of certain immune cells to help strengthen the immune system (12).

In one study, the researchers analyzed the diets of 1,082 twins. They found that those who ate more garlic had a reduced risk of osteoarthritis of the hip, probably due to the strong anti-inflammatory properties of garlic (13).

Another test tube study showed that a specific component in garlic could decrease some of the inflammatory markers associated with arthritis (14).

Adding garlic to your diet could benefit the symptoms of arthritis and overall health.

Summary: Studies in humans and in test tubes have found that garlic may have anti-inflammatory properties and that eating it may be associated with a lower risk of osteoarthritis.

3. ginger

In addition to adding an explosion of flavor to teas, soups and sweets, ginger can also help relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

A 2001 study evaluated the effects of ginger extract in 261 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. After six weeks, 63% of the participants experienced improvements in knee pain (15).

A test tube study also found that ginger and its components blocked the production of substances that promote inflammation in the body (16).

Another study found that the treatment of rats with ginger extract decreased the levels of a specific inflammatory marker involved in arthritis (17).

Consuming ginger in a fresh, dried or powdered form can reduce inflammation and help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Summary: It has been shown that ginger reduces the symptoms of arthritis. Test tube and animal studies have also found that inflammation may decrease, but more research is needed in humans.

4. broccoli

It's no secret that broccoli is one of the healthiest foods that exist. In fact, it may even be associated with reduced inflammation.

A study that examined the diets of 1,005 women found that ingestion of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli was associated with a decrease in the levels of inflammatory markers (18).

Broccoli also contains important components that could help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

For example, sulforaphane is a compound found in broccoli. Test tube studies have shown that it blocks the formation of a cell type involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (19).

An animal study also found that sulforaphane could reduce the production of certain inflammatory markers that contribute to rheumatoid arthritis (20).

While more studies are needed in humans, these results in test tube studies and in animals show that the compounds in broccoli can help decrease the symptoms of arthritis.

Summary: Broccoli has been associated with a reduction in inflammation. It also contains sulforaphane, which may have anti-inflammatory properties, according to test tube studies. More research is needed to look at the effects of broccoli on humans.

5. Nuts

Nuts are rich in nutrients and are loaded with compounds that can help reduce the inflammation associated with joint disease.

An analysis of 13 studies showed that eating nuts was associated with reduced markers of inflammation (21).

Walnuts are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease the symptoms of arthritis (5).

In one study, 90 patients with rheumatoid arthritis took supplements of omega-3 fatty acids or olive oil.

Compared to the olive oil group, those who received omega-3 fatty acids experienced lower levels of pain and were able to reduce the use of arthritis medications (22).

However, most existing research focuses on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in general on arthritis. Additional studies are required to learn more about the effects of nuts, specifically.

Summary: Nuts have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which could alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and inflammation.

6. Berries

Tons of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are piled into each berry portion, which may partially explain its unique ability to decrease inflammation.

In a study of 38,176 women, those who ate at least two servings of strawberries per week were 14% less likely to have a high level of inflammatory markers in the blood (23).

In addition, the berries are rich in quercetin and rutin, two plant compounds that have a lot of health benefits.

In a test tube study, it was discovered that quercetin blocks some of the inflammatory processes associated with arthritis (24).

Another study provided the rats quercetin and routine supplements, both decreased the inflammation related to arthritis (25).

Fortunately, if you want to take advantage of these impressive health benefits, there is a wide variety of berries to choose from. Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are just some of the options that can satisfy your sweet tooth and provide a large amount of nutrients that fight arthritis.

Summary: The berries contain antioxidants that have been shown to decrease inflammatory markers related to arthritis in test tube and animal studies.

7. Spinach

Green leaves like spinach are full of nutrients, and some of their components can help decrease the inflammation caused by arthritis.

Several studies have found that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is related to lower levels of inflammation (26, 27).

Spinach, in particular, contains many antioxidants and plant compounds that can relieve inflammation and help fight disease (28).

Spinach is especially high in the antioxidant kaempferol, which has been shown to decrease the effects of inflammatory agents associated with rheumatoid arthritis (29).

A 2017 specimen study treated the arthritic cartilage cells with kaempferol, and found that it reduced inflammation and prevented the progression of osteoarthritis (30).

However, more research is needed to study the effects of spinach and its components in humans with arthritis.

Summary: Spinach is rich in antioxidants, including kaempferol. Test tube studies have found that kaempferol can reduce inflammation and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

8. Grapes

The grapes are rich in nutrients, high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.

In one study, 24 men were given a concentrated grape powder equivalent to approximately 1.5 cups (252 grams) of fresh grapes, or a placebo daily for three weeks. Grape powder effectively decreased the levels of inflammatory markers in the blood (31).

In addition, grapes contain several compounds that have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis. For example, resveratrol is an antioxidant present in the skin of grapes.

In a test tube study, resveratrol showed a potential to help prevent thickening of the joints associated with arthritis by blocking the formation of rheumatoid arthritis cells (32).

The grapes also contain a plant compound called proanthocyanidin, which may have promising effects on arthritis. For example, a test-tube study showed that proanthocyanidin extract from grape seed reduces inflammation related to the disease (33).

Keep in mind that these are test tube studies using concentrated doses of antioxidants much greater than the amount you would consume in a typical serving.

More research is needed to determine how these results can be translated to humans.

Summary: Grapes have anti-inflammatory properties and contain compounds that can help reduce inflammation. However, additional studies in humans are needed.

9. olive oil

Well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, olive oil can have a favorable effect on the symptoms of arthritis.

In one study, the mice were fed extra virgin olive oil for six weeks. This helped stop the development of arthritis, reduce joint inflammation, slow cartilage destruction, and decrease inflammation (34).

In another study, 49 participants with rheumatoid arthritis consumed fish oil or an olive oil capsule every day for 24 weeks.

At the end of the study, the levels of a specific inflammatory marker had decreased in both groups: 38.5% in the olive oil group and between 40-55% in the fish oil group (35).

Another study analyzed the diets of 333 participants with and without rheumatoid arthritis, finding that the consumption of olive oil was associated with a lower risk of the disease (36).

Although more research is needed on the effects of olive oil on arthritis, including olive oil and other healthy fats in your diet can definitely benefit your health and can also reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Summary: It has been shown that olive oil reduces inflammation and may be associated with a lower risk of arthritis. An animal study found that it can slow the progression of arthritis and relieve symptoms.

10. Sour cherry juice

Acid cherry juice is an increasingly popular drink derived from the fruit of the Prunus cerasus tree.

This powerful juice offers a wide range of nutrients and health benefits, and can even help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

In one study, 58 participants received two 8-ounce bottles (237 ml) of acid cherry juice or a placebo every day for six weeks.

Compared to placebo, acid cherry juice significantly decreased the symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduced inflammation (37).

In another study, drinking sour cherry juice for three weeks reduced the levels of inflammatory markers in 20 women with osteoarthritis (38).

Be sure to look for an unsweetened variety of cherry juice to ensure you do not consume the added sugar added.

In combination with a healthy diet and other foods that fight arthritis, a serving of unsweetened cherry juice a day can help decrease some of the symptoms of arthritis.

Summary: Studies show that acid cherry juice could decrease inflammation and relieve some symptoms of arthritis.

The bottom line

It is clear that diet can play an important role in the severity and symptoms of arthritis.

Luckily, a variety of foods with potent components can offer relief from inflammation and arthritis, while promoting overall health.

Along with conventional treatments, eating a nutritious diet that contains healthy fats, some fatty fish portions and many products can help reduce some symptoms of arthritis.

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