Nutrition Articles

Foods That Fight Osteoarthritis

Learn Which Nutrients Benefit Your Joints

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.

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