7 Surprising Foods To Eat to Ease Joint Pain, According to RDs
One in four Americans are afflicted with arthritis. With May marking National Arthritis Awareness Month, now is a fitting time to look at some of the best foods you can eat to help with one of the most widespread health issues in the country. Below, RDs weigh in on the best foods to support joint health beyond spinach — since Popeye already drew your attention to that one back in the Saturday morning cartoon slot days.
It goes without saying, but if you think you’re suffering from arthritis, consult with a medical professional to determine the best path of treatment for you.
7 Foods That Fight Joint Pain
1. Freeze-dried Strawberries
Arthritis is quite literally joint inflammation (it’s sometimes even called that), so it should come as no surprise that eating foods that fight inflammation may help to abate arthritic symptoms. So first order in the fight against arthritis? Bring on the inflammation-fighting antioxidants. “Freeze-dried strawberries were shown to significantly lower joint pain in those with osteoarthritis in a 2017 study,” says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, writer at My Crohn's and Colitis Team. “The reason for this ease in joint pain is strawberries are a source of antioxidants which can help protect against inflammation. Lowering inflammation may help bring relief from joint pain.”
In general, eating to fight inflammation lowers your risk of disease and prevents infection, certainly convincing reasons to adopt a plant-based, antioxidant-rich diet.
“Avocados are surprisingly helpful at easing joint pain thanks to their anti-inflammatory nutrients,” says Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN, Balance One. “They are packed with healthy fats that work in the body to reduce inflammation and lubricate painful and swollen joints.” To give your smoothie an ultra-luxurious texture, add half an avocado to your favorite smoothie recipe.
Why reach for the bag of chips when you can slice up broccoli stalks and sprinkle on a little salt? Nothing better for an afternoon pick-me-up. Your joints agree: “Broccoli gets a lot of credit for its many health benefits, but one that does not get much attention for that it should is easing joint pain,” says Best. “The antioxidants in broccoli work to reduce free radical damage caused by oxidants in the body. These nutrients include vitamins A, C, and K just to name a few."
4. Fresh Berries
“Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and pomegranates contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants,” comments Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, for Next Luxury. “Antioxidants help protect cells against damage and inflammation, meaning they may be able to ease joint pain related to arthritis.”
5. Dark Leafy Greens
It’s not just Popeye’s one-and-only that protects your joints from inflammation. “Besides spinach, other dark green vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, and Swiss chard are rich in vitamin K, which has been shown to have a potential protective effect against inflammatory conditions,” comments Gariglio-Clelland. “Inflammation leads to pain, so vitamin K may help prevent joint pain and related conditions,” she adds, pointing to this study.
Bonus: Eating dark leafy greens can help your body in so many ways from improving your muscle strength to decreasing your risk of type two diabetes.
Nothing like eating ripe cherries, preferably plopped on a lakefront dock or at the beach, huh? But even on the couch, these nutritious stars hit the spot. “Cherries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help ease joint pain associated with gout and osteoarthritis,” says Klamer.
“A 2016 review found evidence supporting turmeric as a treatment for arthritis,” offers Klamer. “The main antioxidant compound in turmeric, curcumin, is thought to provide anti-inflammatory benefit that can help joint pain,” she continues. Freshly ground turmeric over a bowl of curry or stirred into our favorite homemade salad dressing — coming to a dinner table near us.