Nutrition Articles

Foods That Fight Osteoarthritis

Learn Which Nutrients Benefit Your Joints

333SHARES
Omega-3 fatty acids suppress inflammation and are used to form the outer membranes of joint cells. Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, promote inflammation which can contribute to the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Most people consume approximately 10 times more of the inflammation-promoting omega-6's than they do the anti-inflammatory omega-3's.
  • Decrease your intake of omega-6 fatty acids by cutting back on corn, safflower and cottonseed oil. Limit your intake, as much as possible, of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish (such as salmon, halibut, tuna and sardines), pecans, walnuts, soy foods (tofu, soybean oil), olive and canola oils, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.
  • Nutrition and health experts recognize that omega-3's are healthy and should be a part of your diet, but have not yet established a recommended daily intake. Osteoarthritis experts suggest three grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily (with 0.7 grams coming from fish sources). Use the following chart as a reference guide to meet your needs.
 Omega-3 Sources  Grams
 Flaxseeds (ground), 2 Tbsp  3.5
 Walnuts, 1/4 cup  2.3
 Atlantic salmon, 3.5 oz  2.0
 Albacore tuna, 3.5 oz  1.5
 Soybeans (cooked), 1 cup  1.0
 Halibut, 3.5 oz  0.5
 Tofu (raw), 4 oz  0.4
 Olive oil (uncooked), 2 Tbsp  0.2

Diet Claims That Don’t Help Osteoarthritis

There are many food and nutrition recommendations for arthritis that have no scientific proof that they actually work. Be sure to steer clear of these common claims.

The Nightshades Diet. One of the most common claims is that avoiding "nightshade" vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and most peppers, will relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Although there is probably nothing harmful about following this advice, there are no studies to support its effectiveness.

The Alkaline Diet. The alkaline diet presumes that high levels of acid in your system bring on osteoarthritis symptoms. Proponents of this claim suggest eliminating sugar, coffee, red meat, most grains, nuts, citrus fruits and citrus foods from your diet for an entire month. Because followers of this diet are limited to such restrictive food guidelines, many people do lose weight and report feeling better (as a result of that weight loss). However, there are no studies to prove that this diet is effective.

The Dong Diet. This very restrictive diet relies heavily on the consumption of all vegetables except tomatoes, and eliminates many of the same foods as the alkaline diet (see above). No research or evidence exists to prove that this diet is effective in managing osteoarthritis.

Gin-Soaked Raisin Diet. Although grapes and raisins do contain some anti-inflammatory compounds, the actual amount is minimal. The gin that is used may help dull pain, but that is not a permanent fix. There is no research to support this diet claim.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • a table full of omega-3-containin
    g food.... and chia seeds are not even mentioned????

    chia has roughly 8-times more omega-3 than salmon (without the danger of mercury poisoning that seafood bears).
    i personally prefer adding a "small salmon steak" (=1 tbs chia seeds soaked for 15 mins in a cup of water) to my breakfast-cereal in the morning, that's my omega-3's done and i feel satisfied and content until noon and longer. - 2/21/2014 5:15:19 PM
  • I will be 63 in a few days and was diagnosed with diabetes about 8 years ago so I have been gradually improving my eating habits. I don't eat sugary foods now, try to avoid gluten, and no longer eat meat all of which has been a great help for my blood sugars and health in general. However, I am still having trouble losing weight and the arthritis I have now in knees and hips makes it tough to get as much exercise as I used to. Before, I could walk 5k with no problem but not so easy now. I am going to get going on vitamins C, D, Beta Carotene, and Omega 3 fatty acids. I take glucosamine chondroitin-MSM now. I've read conflicting info on it but I still think it helps me feel better (less pain) after a few weeks of consistent use. TUBLADY--Big congrats on all your hard work! You inspire me! - 11/5/2013 2:29:58 PM
  • I knew they would get meat and fish in the list somewhere. Too much meat and fish is what my doctor said caused my osteoarthritis. I feel much better after adopting a plant based diet. - 10/25/2013 4:01:45 PM
  • KIRBYGRANT
    not impressed with tis website - 10/10/2013 5:24:29 PM
  • BALLINCOLLIG1
    I am 51 year old female the first sign of osteoarttitis I got was swelling in my right knee when I was 43 had to give up work. Was treated with painkillers and had my knee drained once every two months. Xrays showed eventually my knee was almost worn away, I had it replaced April this year was very sucessful for about two months but its swollen and painfull again ! Going to start on my suppliments and try and loose the weight I'v gained, got results of my hip xrays last week and they are both looking bad. But I'm determined to take my suppliments and loose weight, this article has been very helpful. Any information would be very helpful, thank you. - 10/11/2012 6:01:18 PM
  • I was healthy and fit most of my life, but diagnosed with RA at 30. I worked out, lots of exercise and pretty healthy eating till I injured my knee at 56, found I had osteoarthritis. I was out hiking and damaged my knee. Had operation, then another, then the other knee went.
    The other parts of my body were in constant pain. I became disabled, obese and for 14 years, could hardly get around. I then lost 200 lbs, for the doctor told me I was killing myself and would be dead in two years. I had my knees replaced and now get around very well.
    When I started exercising at 335 lbs , I had to lay on the bed and use a resistance band to help lift my leg. I had no strength. It was slow and sometimes painful, but I knew I had to do it. I walked with a walker, sometimes sitting down in the seat to rest.
    One has to cut calories, to lose weight, and do some form of exercise. Check out chair exercises. The rubber resistance bands were a my best exercise equipment for me. I still use them today.
    You should practice stretching every morning and evening too. Have to keep the body limber. I still suffer from RA and osteoarthritis , many morning I feel the pain, I am stiff, but I stretch, limber up, go for a walk and hit the gym for water aerobics. There is nothing probably better for achy joints than to work out in water. But if you can't , then do something else. If only 10 minutes a day. Then work up to 15, then 20. You should manage 30 minutes. It will make a big difference in how you feel.
    I am training for a 1/2 marathon next month. I am going to be 71 in December. It's never to late to change your life for the better. - 9/25/2012 6:18:59 PM
  • I am 54 now, but was diagnosed several years ago with Osteoporosis, the one thing my Doctors keep stressing to me is to get out and walk. We all know the we can't do normal activities like everyone else and can't exercise like everyone else. So improvise, if your laid up in bed, do legs lifts, just use your imagination and mix it up. Stop if it hurts too much but somehow just get moving. I bought a bike, so I like to ride it when the weather gets cooler. The is a peddler thingy, lol I don't know what it's called , but you can sit in a chair and peddle it like a bike. swimming is good if you have access to a pool, it's easy on the joints. Just do whatever you want to get moving, just get moving. 10 minutes a day and increase as your body allows. Any exercise is better than no exercise. - 9/17/2012 7:53:47 PM
  • RACHELP61
    I am 50 years old and was diagnosed with Osteo Arthritis 4 years ago in my left knee. I went to the gym and worked out religiously on the treadmill and took aerobic classes , now I do not go and have gained 50 lbs. It can be depressing but I know I am the only one that can change this. I am now trying to eat healthier , and Sparkpeople has helped me with so much information. I take supplements and believe completely that change in diet can only help with inflammation and the pressure put on my knee. I know its a hard hill to climb because I can not work out like I did but with eating healthier and walking as much as I can , I hope to overcome this and try to prevent it from getting worse. To all those that are discouraged due to weight gain, we CAN do this with support from each other !!! :) - 9/17/2012 6:51:10 PM
  • SYWRIGHT28
    I have inflammation arthritis lupus. I have injuries from playing sports when I was young. I am eating NO grain(except rice) and NO sugar(except pure honey, and pure maple syrup). I drink lots of water and unsweet tea and coffee. I am off my Celebrex and instead take Noplea drink 1X a day. I get plenty of sleep and no longer teach kindergarten where I stayed sick all the time. I have a secretaries job and so much less stress. I do take the Plaquenil for lupus but I take fish oil, l-lysine for fever blister prevention, calcium/mag, folic acid for cancor sore prevention, probiotics, baby aspirin, Over 50 vitamin, cinnamon(low blood sugar), glucosomne chondrotin, etc. I ride a bike as much as I can and garden. What we eat is how our bodies run so I am trying to fill mine with as much lean meat and fruits and veggies. - 9/17/2012 5:19:28 PM
  • SWIMMER531
    I'm 59 and have been trying various strategies to reduce the pain and inflammation caused by my osteoarthritis and degenerating joints -- particularly my knees and thumbs. I exercise regularly but am 20 lbs overweight (since quitting smoking at age 50.)
    The best results for me have been achieved with a combination of exercise (swimming), supplements (Vit C, MSN and curcumin) and switching to the "Eat Right for Your Blood type" diet. I'm a B- so this has meant eliminating tomatoes, chicken, pork, shellfish, lentils, black beans, avocados, most cooking oils, fish sauce and coconut. The list goes on...

    The good news is that I feel much better, the inflammation in my thumbs has practically disappeared and, generally, I am able to resume many activities that I had lost my ability to perform. The diet designed by Dr. Peter D'Adamo was so different than my usual that I found myself eating too much of a few allowed things (such as rice pasta, cheese, olive oil, yogurt, oatmeal, walnuts, raisins, etc.) and I've gained more weight.

    My challenge is to put the two systems together (D'Adamo and Spark) and get rid of the (now) 25 lbs I need to loose.

    I'd be very interested in anyone trying to use these 2 systems together - esp if you're Type B. - 8/15/2012 10:08:31 PM
  • you could try ginseng...it does give me a boost, but best is siberian ginseng... - 7/1/2012 9:15:06 AM
  • I am 63 and just retired. I have osteoarthritis, acute asthma and polymyalgia. I am continually on steroirds (prednisolone) and feel fat and ugly most of the time. Some days I have a real job just to get up, but I do. I have a dog and she needs her walk. I have a husband that is disabled and a mother in law that lives with us who is 94 and bed ridden. I have to care for her too, including bathing etc., The only answer I can give to everyones pain, is get a dog!!! I get more out of her than anything else, including the unconditional love...can't beat that. - 7/1/2012 9:10:18 AM
  • NATALIKO
    does anybody use supplaments? and which works better? - 4/23/2012 8:20:18 AM
  • KAT7777
    RE: VIT D at least 800 IU daily: Please read this article from the New England Journal of Medicine. The article does a wonderful job pulling together and summarizing the numerous studies that have been done on the subject. I really think you must read this article, especially pages 273-274. "Above about 35 degrees north latitude (think Atlanta to LA), little or no vitamin D3 can be produced from November to February." Most tissues and cells in the body have a Vit D receptor. Many physical maladies are linked to Vit D deficiency. The studies saw no change in conditions until patients took 800 IU or more daily. I'm taking 5000-6000 IU of D3 a day. When my D3 ran out I tried the D2 the boys were taking and it really was ineffective. They are now on my D3, and I'm back to it. I really think they were seriously under supplemented.
    http://www.uvad
    vantage.org/p
    ortals/0/pdf/
    NEJournalofMedicine.pdf

    - 1/9/2010 9:40:08 AM
  • YES, I WAS HOPEING SOONER R LATER I WOULD FIND SOMEONE LIKE ME, I HAVE SO MANY HEALTH ISSUES & CAN BARELY WALK . I EERCISE IN BED R CHAIR & I AM DRINKING LOTS OF WATER NOW & I AM TRYING & LEARNING AS I GO THNGS TO HELP ME LOSE WEGHT & I PRAISE GOD !! - 9/30/2009 12:05:29 PM

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