Fruits for joint pain treatment is a very effective herbal remedy for providing relief from joint pains and inflammation caused due to arthritis. Thus, it can be very beneficial in preventing the condition from worsening. This article will help you understand the different types of joint pain, what causes it and what fruits you can eat to help relieve your symptoms.
10 Foods That Help Reduce Joint Pain
Ben Franklin was right when he said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We agree, so our orthopaedic specialists encourage patients to adopt dietary and exercise habits that support strong bones and joints.
Your everyday routine can have a big impact on the health and longevity of your joints. For example, choosing foods that build bone density, strengthen connective tissue and reduce inflammation can help you prevent injuries and preserve your joints for a long, active life.
We often see patients who are curious about making lifestyle changes to reduce joint pain. Yet our orthopaedic doctors recognize that it’s hard to change everything at once. Therefore, taking a look at your diet is a great place to start.
Here’s our take on 10 foods that may help reduce pain and increase mobility in the joints:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids / Fish Oils
Cold-water fish are a terrific source of Omega-3s fatty acids, which are essential nutrients for human health. These important nutrients are also sometimes referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids. Not only are they proven to reduce inflammatory proteins in the body, but they also improve brain function and lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.
Omega-3 can be found in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, halibut and sardines. Taking a daily fish oil supplement is another way to absorb Omega-3s.
2. Nuts and Seeds
There’s good news for the vegans and vegetarians among us. Omega-3s can also be found in a variety of nuts and seeds. A small daily portion of walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds or pine nuts can help reduce inflammation in the joints and connective tissue.
3. Brassica Vegetables
What are those, you might ask. Also known as cruciferous vegetables, brassicas are commonly associated with the mustard and cabbage family. Leafy greens like mustard greens, arugula, kale and purple cabbage are in the brassica family. Several other popular (and tasty!) vegetables make the list, including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.
This particular subset of the vegetable population has been known to block an enzyme that causes swelling in the joints. Plus, they’re chocked full of fiber, vitamins and nutrients for overall health and well-being.
4. Colorful Fruits
Fruits sometimes get a bad rap because of their high sugar content, but many are excellent antioxidants. Just like with vegetables, certain fruits are more effective than others in reducing inflammation in the body.
We’re particularly partial to blueberries, which are high in anthocyanins – one of the most powerful flavonoids. These help “turn off” inflammatory responses in the body.
Apples are another fiber-rich, anti-inflammatory fruit, and they deliver added benefits for gut health.
Pineapple is also on our short list for its bromelain content, a nutrient that has shown to reduce joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, most of the bromelain is found in the stem and core of the pineapple, so blend the core into a smoothie to get the maximum benefit.
And finally, tomatoes (yes, they’re a fruit). Tomatoes contain the powerful antioxidant, lycopene. Cooked tomatoes are even more lycopene-rich than uncooked ones. Be sure to consume the skin to get the greatest benefit.
5. Olive Oil
Toss out your vegetable oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil – all of which can increase inflammation. Instead, opt for a few tablespoons of olive oil for cooking and making salad dressings. Better yet, go with the extra virgin variety that is less processed. Often associated with a Mediterranean diet, olive oil is an unsaturated “healthy” fat. And guess what … it’s another source of Omega-3!
6. Lentils and Beans
Beans and lentils are known for their health benefits. They’re an excellent source of protein, fiber and essential minerals. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Black beans, lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans and soybeans are all great sources of anthocyanins – that magical flavonoid that reduces inflammation.
7. Garlic and Root Vegetables
Garlic, onions, ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties. Various studies have shown that these pungent root vegetables can be useful in treating symptoms of arthritis and other joint pain. Incorporate these vegetables into meals for added flavor. Plus, they’re all available in a supplement.
8. Whole Grains
Research suggests that proteins found in refined grains (such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta) may trigger an inflammatory response in the body. However, high-fiber whole grains help produce fatty acids that are thought to counteract inflammation. Therefore, stick with the whole grains.
The Arthritis Foundation provides a detailed list of grains that are recommended for arthritis suffers – including whole wheat, whole oats, barley and rye. For more information, see Best Grains for Arthritis.
9. Bone Broth
Glucosamine, chondroitin and amino acids are well documented to help maintain healthy joints, while calcium is essential for bone density. Bone broth contains all of these. The gelatin-like substance that comes from cooking bones mimics collagen that occurs naturally in our joints, tendons and ligaments. Whether or not bone broth can actually stimulate regrowth of cartilage is a fiercely debated topic in the medical filed. But taken regularly as an oral supplement, it has been known to reduce joint pain and increase function for people with arthritis.
Bone broth can be consumed as a hot broth or used in recipes as a cooking base or sauce. Get tips on bone broth preparation from these dietitians.
10. Dark Chocolate
Now we’re talking! Indeed, chocolate has anti-inflammatory properties. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, contains antioxidants that can counteract genetic predisposition to insulin resistance and inflammation. The higher the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the higher its anti-inflammatory effect.
But remember, chocolate can be high in sugar and fat, so enjoy it in moderation. If you’re going to indulge, choose chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.
So there you have it – our 10 picks for foods that help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Of course, there are some DON’Ts when it comes to eating for joint health. Pay careful attention to the effects of foods that can be linked to inflammation:
- Limit refined grains like pasta, rice and white bread.
- Keep salt to a minimum. Salt causes fluid retention, which is associated with tissue swelling. Additionally, the Arthritis Foundation reports that limiting salt intake can reduce calcium loss, thereby reducing osteoporosis and fracture risk.
- Steer clear of processed foods whenever possible.
Stay tuned to our blog for more prevention tips from Cary Orthopaedics, a top orthopaedic practice in the Triangle.
Best Foods for Joint Pain Relief: What Foods Will Help Joint Pain?
All types of arthritis have an element of inflammation, and inflammation causes pain and joint damage. Ideally, preventing inflammation is the goal, but that is not always possible. Once it exists, the goal becomes reducing it for pain relief. A diet for joint pain includes foods with known anti-inflammatory nutrients and also nutrients for bone building and connective tissue strengthening.
Anti-inflammatories in Foods for Joint Pain
Inflammation can cause a lot of damage in the body, including the joints. It is inflammation that causes joint linings to swell, and joints to get red and warm. Chronic inflammation is linked to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, and is a symptom of osteoarthritis when bone deterioration irritates soft tissues. Inflammation can cause serious joint damage when left untreated or becomes chronic.
Medical research is learning more and more about the role of foods for joint health and for reducing joint pain. Foods considered anti-inflammatory have certain characteristics. For example, they have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants compared to other foods. The truth is that many of the foods people are consuming are contributing to more joint pain and more severe arthritis symptoms than would be experienced otherwise.
What Foods are good for Joints?
Food choices for healthy joints will:
- Help control inflammation
- Increase build density
- Strengthen connective tissue
- Help manage weight
- Promote overall good health
There is still a lot of ongoing medical research investigating the role of diet in joint pain, but the general recommendation is to eat a lot of cold-water fish, fruits and vegetables. A largely plant-based diet that minimizes consumption of red meat is ideal.
Preventing and Reducing Inflammation and Joint Pain
Specifically, what foods help with joint pain? Research indicates the following foods can reduce pain.
- Cold-water fish are high in omega3-fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that prevent or reduce inflammation – mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring, oysters, sardines.
- Leafy green vegetables for joint pain can block an enzyme that is known to cause joint swelling and contain calcium and a variety of vitamins and other compounds that strengthen bones – kale, mustard greens, purple cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, arugula.
- Richly colored fruits have nutrients, like anthocyanins and lycopene, that limit the inflammatory response, and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C that prevents inflammation – blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes (it is a fruit), strawberries, cherries, raspberries, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.
- Oil is another omega-3 source and a source of healthy fat – extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, walnut oil.
- Beans have anthocyanins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties – soybeans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans.
- Whole grains are high-fiber and contribute to the production of fatty acids, which work to limit inflammation – whole wheat, barley, rye, whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa.
- Dairy has calcium and vitamin D to increase bone building – low fat milk, cheese, yogurt.
- Nuts contain vitamin E, linolenic acid for immune strengthening, and other nutrients – almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts.
Foods to Avoid
Just like some foods prevent or reduce inflammation and reduce joint pain, there are foods to avoid. These foods are inflammatory foods that can lead to increased joint pain and other arthritis symptoms. The foods that cause joint pain and stiffness include:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Oils high in saturated fats or omega 6 fatty acids, like corn and safflower oil
Nutrition for Joint Pain
Foods for pain relief are really just healthy food choices. Everyone, whether or not they have arthritis, should avoid processed and fried foods, sugary desserts and marbled red meat. These foods contribute to a variety of diseases and can aggravate the inflammatory response and increase joint pain. Following a healthy diet can help anyone ease joint pain, and in the process, people better manage his or her weight and enjoy better overall health.
Foods to Help Beat Rheumatoid Arthritis Inflammation
Do you have stiff, inflamed joints? The answer may involve your diet. Discover which foods to eat to help prevent or reduce RA symptoms.
Antioxidants, which help quell inflammation, are plentiful in fruits and other food sources.
The most troubling symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis — pain, stiffness, and swelling — stem from the same source: inflammation. What to do? Part of the answer may involve your diet.
Findings from a study published in April 2021 in Arthritis Research & Therapy, showed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had significantly more pro-inflammatory diets, and those individuals with RA who were able to lower diet-associated inflammation between 2011 and 2017 were also able to maintain low disease activity. “That particular result was extraordinarily strong and consistent as indicated by more than 3.5 times greater odds of maintaining good control over the disease compared with those who did not adopt a more anti-inflammatory diet,” said study coauthor James R. Hébert, MSPH, ScD, Health Sciences Distinguished Professor and director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
Even more important, since the study was conducted over a number of years, it shows that the beneficial effect of a low inflammatory diet is long-term. “Because such a diet can be extraordinarily diverse and sensually pleasing, it can be very easy to maintain over very long periods of time,” added Hébert, via email.
There’s additional evidence that diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and plant fiber — think omega-3 fatty acids and lots of fruits and vegetables — may decrease the risk of RA. It’s also thought that both fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids can lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an indicator of joint inflammation.
Researchers theorize that fiber in particular is beneficial, but it may be that the phytonutrients in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and grains contribute to lessening it. Studies have also found that regularly eating fish high in omega-3s, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and tuna, may decrease swollen joints and tenderness.
Is There Such a Thing as a Joint-Friendly Food?
Although the compounds in many foods are said to improve RA symptoms, more research is needed to determine just how much of those compounds would have to be eaten to derive the benefit.
What scientists know for sure is that there are important links between your stomach and inflammation, and that Western diets, with their emphasis on the fast, cheap, and highly flavorful, create the conditions for diseases like RA to flourish.
It’s certain, for starters, that obesity is a risk factor for inflammatory conditions. Body fat generates substances that generate inflammation, and the more fat there is, the more inflamed the body will be. In addition, the foods that lead to obesity — ones high in fat, sugar, salt, and processed ingredients — are known to increase inflammation.
Also, scientists are increasingly finding out more about the ways that intestinal bacterial imbalances, which may result from high-fat low-nutrient diets, contribute to these conditions.
That said, changing your diet probably won’t reduce inflammation enough for you to forgo other RA management treatments. But it can help reduce the amount of medication needed and the side effects of the medication, says Lona Sandon, PhD, RDN, an associate professor in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who is also an RA patient. And, Dr. Sandon adds, eating well has never been known to make any condition worse.
Eat These 8 Foods To Help Beat RA Inflammation
Olive Oil May Work in Much the Way NSAIDs Do
Researchers have become interested in the anti-inflammatory benefits of olive oil because people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, seem to have fewer health conditions related to inflammation, such as degenerative joint diseases or diabetes.
Researchers have found that oleocanthal, a compound found in extra-virgin olive oil, appears to suppress the same pain pathway as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, which makes it a great oil for use in cooking foods, or in recipes like salad dressings as part of your daily management plan when living with pain.
Vitamin C Is Important for Tissue Repair
Vitamin C is a dietary component necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which helps build and repair blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone, and is therefore helpful for people with osteoarthritis, Sandon says.
Aim for a total vitamin C intake of 75 milligrams (mg) per day for women, and 90 mg per day for men, the current U.S. recommended dietary allowance. If you’re pregnant, aim for 85 mg and if you’re lactating, 120 mg.
Citrus foods, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and limes, are rich in vitamin C, and are also good sources of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, which are beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Citrus, however, may interfere with the body’s ability to process certain RA medications, such as oral cyclosporine and possibly methotrexate. Research has shown that regular consumption of grapefruit juice blocks the protein known as CYP3A4 that helps the body metabolize cyclosporine; other research has suggested that other citrus juices, like those made from Seville oranges, limes, and pomelos, may also affect how CYP3A4 works in the body.
If you’re taking meds that can be affected by citrus, you may need to get vitamin C from other sources such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, strawberries, kiwi, or potatoes, Sandon suggests. A half cup of cooked broccoli, for example, has over half of the recommended vitamin C daily value.
“Another option,” notes Sandon, is to avoid taking your medication with citrus juices. “Instead, have the juice or citrus fruit at another time of day.” Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out what’s best for your diet and medication routine.
Berries Are High in Antioxidants and Inflammation-Fighting Potential
Sandon recommends that you make one or more servings of fresh or frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or huckleberries, part of your daily diet. These little fruits pack powerful antioxidant compounds, like proanthocyanins and ellagic acid, which fight inflammation and cell damage. The amount and combination of the compounds vary by the type of berry, Sandon says, so make variety your goal.
Carrots Pack Anti-Arthritis Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
Add carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes to your anti-arthritis shopping list, too, Sandon says. These and other orange-hued vegetables are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which are believed to fight inflammation. Cooking seems to increase the availability of these compounds. For the biggest benefit, eat these vegetables on a regular basis in recommended serving sizes rather than overdoing it by eating them in large quantities. A single serving of carrots is ½ cup, or about 1 large carrot or 7 to 10 baby carrots.
Whole Grains May Help You Lose Weight and Lessen Pain
Much has been made of the health benefits of whole grains, and for good reason, Sandon says. Whole grains are simply grains that still have all three parts of the original grain: the bran (outside hull), endosperm, and germ.
Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium, and magnesium than refined grains. In addition, a diet rich in whole grains has also been linked to better weight control, which can help reduce pain and symptoms of RA.
So, switch from white bread to whole wheat, and from regular pasta to whole grain, Sandon says. Caution: When buying whole wheat bread, don’t be misled by the label. It should read 100 percent whole wheat or have the Whole Grain Stamp from the Oldways Whole Grain Council. Also add other whole grains to your menu, like a bowl of oatmeal in the morning or a bulgur salad at night.
Ginger: Spice Up Your Dishes to Turn Down the Flame
Like onions, ginger contains compounds that function in much the same way as anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. This versatile root adds flavor too. Add fresh peeled ginger to stir-fries, eat pickled ginger along with salmon sushi, or puree some and add it to an acorn squash soup.
Ginger supplements can also help reduce inflammation, but check with your doctor before taking them, Sandon says. Too much ginger can lead to thinning of the blood, which can be dangerous if you are taking certain drugs, like Coumadin (warfarin). It can also decrease blood sugar levels, raising the risk of hypoglycemia. In addition, ginger may lower blood pressure, which could affect those taking high blood pressure medication.
Pineapple: This Fruit’s Enzymes Can Decrease Swelling
Pineapple is rich in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which has been linked to decreased pain and swelling in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, Sandon says. So, add this tropical fruit to your diet every chance you get. Try it cubed in fruit salad, baked in savory dishes, blended into a smoothie, or added to stir-fries to give a sweet-and-sour zing.
Bromelain is also available in supplement form, but check with your doctor before taking it because it can increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you also take blood thinners such as Plavix (clopidogrel bisulphate), Coumadin, or aspirin. Bromelain may also interfere with the action of antibiotics and sedatives.
Turmeric: This Spice May Cool Inflammation
The Indian spice turmeric contains curcumin, a naturally occurring polyphenol. A study published in September 2015 in Food Chemical Toxicology suggested that the curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The jury is still out on how much is needed to get the beneficial effect but why not add it to your cooking to zazz up the flavor.
Green Tea: A Nice Cuppa May Sooth Your Joints
Green tea has an abundance of catechins that interrupt the expression of inflammation. Its effect on rheumatoid arthritis has been long studied; one such study, published in August 2017 in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, reported that “the consumption of green tea offers an overall anti-inflammatory effect.” However, most studies have been on small samples. A newer study, published in the March 20, 2020, issue of Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism looked at a “real-world, large scale study.” Result: A higher intake of green tea was associated with lesser disease activity.
Cherry Juice May Increase Antioxidants
A study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that consumption of Montmorency tart cherry juice reduced levels of uric acid and increased specific anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant, in the bloodstream. But take this news with a grain of salt, Sandon says. More research is needed to determine how much cherry juice one must consume to achieve the benefits, though in moderation it is a healthy food, so drink up. Add it to a seltzer for a refreshing libation instead of sodas!