Osteoarthritis is one of the most common conditions that affect older adults. It can impact any joint in the body, although most people report discomfort and pain in the knees, hips, spine, and fingers. Osteoarthritis occurs when the ends of your bones become less protected over time, as the cartilage that cushions them begins to wear down. It is important to identify and treat this disease as soon as you notice it since it the damage cannot be reversed once it occurs. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to treat osteoarthritis and slow down its progression, including adding these arthritis-fighting foods to your diet.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
If you love to cook with butter, consider swapping extra-virgin olive oil instead. This oil is full of anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce joint pain and swelling. This includes omega-3 fatty acids, as well as oleocanthal. As a bonus, it’s also better for your heart and your waistline than its butter and margarine counterparts. That’s great news, since being overweight and not exercising can exacerbate osteoarthritis symptoms. Olive oil also makes a great substitution for salad dressing, so there are plenty of ways to add it to your diet to reap the benefits.
If you don’t eat fish already, adding it to your diet at least twice a week can help you to fight off osteoarthritis pain. Many types of fish are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their ability to fight inflammation and reduce pain and swelling. For those with osteoarthritis, Omega-3s can also help to soothe joint stiffness and discomfort. Not all fish are created equal, but there are plenty of options: tuna, salmon, herring, trout, mackerel, and sardines rank at the very top of the list. Be sure to eat fresh, organic fish for maximum benefits.
Cherries and Berries
Adding more fruit to your diet can be a great way to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms while still eating great-tasting foods. Cherries contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation and swelling throughout the body. Lots of other berries contain anthocyanins as well, including strawberries and blueberries. Try making smoothies or having a serving of fruit salad for breakfast to incorporate these into your day. You can also use them to top salads, yogurts, and other dishes. Just be sure to pick up fresh or frozen varieties that don’t contain added sugars and preservatives, since these will dilute the effects of the fruit.
Everyone knows that beans are great for heart health, but did you know that they also can reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis? Beans contain a variety of important vitamins and minerals. Most commonly, they’re cited as a good source of fiber, but they also contain plenty of protein, iron, potassium, and magnesium. All of these nutrients are important for keeping inflammation to a minimum and having a strong, healthy immune system. To get the benefits from beans in tasty ways, try using them as a base for a salad, or make yourself a black bean burger in place of the usual hamburger.
There aren’t many health conditions that garlic can’t help, and osteoarthritis is no exception. Garlic contains a compound known as diallyl disulfide, which inhibits the growth of enzymes that cause osteoarthritis and other joint and cartilage disease. Garlic has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well, which makes it a superfood when it comes to arthritis. It’s also versatile so that you can get your fill of it in a variety of ways. Add freshly minced garlic to meat or vegetable dishes, or roast garlic cloves and use them to top a veggie pizza. Garlic supplements are also available, but getting it straight from the source is always best.
Green tea has many health benefits, including the ability to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Whether you prefer cold or hot tea, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the speed at which cartilage is destroyed, as well as limit swelling and pain. Green tea contains polyphenols, which are a specific type of antioxidant that researchers say may be the key to this beverage’s soothing properties. Green tea has a myriad of other benefits, so adding a cup or two of it to your daily diet can be very beneficial for your health.
Broccoli is a great food for reducing inflammation, and early research suggests that it might even stop osteoarthritis from progressing. That’s because it contains valuable vitamins and minerals, like calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. It also has sulforaphane, which reduces swelling and inflammation. Like most produce, broccoli is most valuable when it is fresh and organic. However, frozen varieties still contain large amounts of the nutrients that make this a great osteoarthritis-fighting food. To add it to your meals, try flavoring it with lemon and serving it as a warm side dish. You can also eat raw broccoli with low-fat yogurt or hummus.
Like most of the foods on this list, ginger contains components that reduce inflammation and pain caused by osteoarthritis. Ginger has long been considered a valuable spice, even in ancient societies. Ginger root is inexpensive and found in nearly all grocery stores, making it a very accessible ingredient for cooking. To cook with ginger, mince fresh ginger root to add a pinch of spice to any dish. The most popular way to use ginger as an anti-inflammatory aid, however, is to boil ginger root for up to an hour to create a delicious ginger tea.
Walnuts are a great source of antioxidants, and they also contain plenty of useful minerals and vitamins. That includes protein, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber. Snacking on walnuts is a great way to get your fill, but walnut oil is also a valuable source. Some research suggests that walnut oil might have ten times as many Omega-3 fatty acids as extra virgin olive oil, which is already on the list of osteoarthritis-preventing foods. Walnuts aren’t the only nut with these benefits. Pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, and even peanuts are all equally good sources of these nutrients. Just remember to eat them in moderation, since they’re also high in fat and calories.
Like broccoli, dark leafy greens contain an abundance of antioxidants that slow down the progress of osteoarthritis. Important vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A all work to limit inflammation and reduce pain in the joints. There are lots of vegetables that fall into this group, so even if kale and Swiss chard isn’t your favorite salad blend, you can still load up on spinach, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and bok choy to get your fill of leafy greens. While not normally thought of as a green vegetable, cauliflower can be another good way to get these nutrients into your body and stop the progression of the disease.
For those who enjoy eating healthy snacks, flaxseed is probably already a common feature of your diet. For everyone else, it’s a superfood that you should immediately add to your life. That’s because flaxseed contains more omega-3 fatty acids than almost any other source, and it has many health benefits beyond fighting osteoarthritis. That includes reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. To get the maximum health benefits from flaxseed, add crushed flaxseed to foods you already eat, like cereals and salads. You can also blend it into smoothies, or use it to top your morning cup of yogurt.
Oranges are a great choice for those with osteoarthritis because they contain large amounts of vitamin C. This nutrient is known for its ability to boost the immune system, helping to reduce inflammation and pain caused by a disease. It isn’t just oranges that you should add to your diet, though. All citrus contains high vitamin C quantities, so try new foods like grapefruit, mangos, and pineapple. You can even use lemon and lime juice in your cooking, adding vitamin C to any dish. Citrus fruits make great smoothies and are the perfect breakfast side dish, so it’s easy to eat more of this arthritis-fighting food.
Onions are another excellent option for those with osteoarthritis. Like garlic, onions are part of the allium family, which is full of compounds that help everything from your heart to your knees. Also like garlic, onions contain diallyl disulfide – an anti-inflammatory chemical that stops further damage to joints. All types of onions make great options for cooking and eating as a raw topping: traditional red, yellow and white onions, green onions and leeks, and even shallots. If you don’t like the taste of onions, sautéing them in a dash of olive oil can help to produce a more mild flavor without adding a lot of unnecessary calories.
Avocados are very beneficial in slowing down the spread of osteoarthritis. They contain large quantities of monounsaturated fat, which can help to lower inflammation and reduce the damage that occurs in your joints. They are also great sources of vitamin E and fiber, making them an excellent food. Avocados can be used on salads, sandwiches, and even eaten as a snack, but there are other ways to add this fruit to your diet, too. Most notably, avocado oil is one of the healthier types of oil, with links to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Try using it in place of butter or margarine when cooking.
Although most people do not use turmeric in traditional western dishes, it is very popular in many Indian meals, like curries. Researchers are beginning to note that turmeric is a spice with superfood powers, and its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option for those hoping to reduce their osteoarthritis symptoms. The reason turmeric is so effective is that it contains curcumin, which blocks inflammation from occurring, rather than just relieving it after the fact. Although cooking with turmeric requires a willingness to try new foods, curries are easy to prepare and can be made as spicy or as mild as you prefer.