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10 foods that fight arthritis inflammation

Retirement Living Lifestyle
25 May 2021

Arthritis is an umbrella term for a range of inflammatory conditions affecting the bones, muscles and joints.

There are many different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis which develops in joints with overuse, and rheumatoid arthritis which is a disease where your immune system attacks your joints.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, arthritis can have a profound impact on person’s quality of life and wellbeing due to acute and chronic pain, physical limitations, management of the condition and mental health issues.

With one in seven Australians having some form of arthritis, and 50 per cent of those experiencing moderate to severe pain, it’s no surprise people are looking for ways to relieve the side effects of the condition.

At present, there is no cure for arthritis, but one way you can try to manage arthritis-related conditions is through diet, as certain foods have been shown to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system.

Arthritis Australia suggests the best diet for arthritis is one that is healthy and balanced, as this can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing other health problems.

1. Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids which have shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. According to the Arthritis Foundation, eating these types of fish one or two times a week is recommended for protecting the heart and reducing inflammation. If fish doesn’t tickle your fancy, supplements that contain omega-3, such as fish oil, krill oil or flaxseed oil, can also be helpful.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, which can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis by blocking the enzymes that cause joint destruction and inflammation. Other vegetables such as brussel sprouts and cabbage also contain this beneficial compound.

3. Walnuts

Walnuts are nutrient-dense and loaded with compounds that can help reduce inflammation. They’re also especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease joint pain and joint stiffness. Eating walnuts regularly can also lower cholesterol, relax blood vessels to lessen stress on the heart, and reduce blood pressure.

4. Canola oil

Canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats which can help reduce inflammation, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis. Other foods rich in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, sunflower oil, avocados and many types of seeds.

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent source of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid which can help reduce joint inflammation and pain. The other benefit of chia seeds is their high fibre content which can help keep you feeling full, maintain bowel health, lower cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels.

6. Green tea

Green tea contains a natural antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which has been shown to stop the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body, including those involved in arthritis. It has also been shown to prevent cartilage from breaking down, which can help to preserve joints for longer. To reap the benefits, aim for two servings a day – either hot or cold. Tea bags and loose leaf are better than powdered tea mixes, which are more processed.

7. Cherries

Cherries are rich in chemicals called anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. This chemical is also responsible for giving cherries their bright colour. In addition to helping reduce arthritis side effects, cherries are also good for your heart and may even improve your quality of sleep.

8. Onions

Onions have plenty of health benefits hidden within their layers. Not only are they low in calories, but they virtually have no fat and are loaded with components that fight inflammation in arthritis-related conditions. They’re also one of the richest sources of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that counter the free radicals in your body’s cells before they have a chance to cause harm.

9. Whole grains

Whole grains such as brown rice can help lower your C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which in turn helps reduce inflammation. Another advantage of eating whole grains is that their fibre helps maintain bowel health, lower cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels. It also helps to keep you feeling full which makes it easier to manage your appetite and help stay at a healthy weight so you don’t have extra pressure placed on your joints.

10. Beans

Black beans, lentils and other members of the legume family are high in fibre and rich in antioxidants that can help decrease inflammation. They’re also a good way to get protein into your diet as a substitute for red meats, which have been associated with increased inflammation.

Remember, it’s always best to speak with your GP or a dietician when it comes to changes to your diet. A qualified professional will be able to recommend a diet that is suitable to your personal goals and needs.

Did you know?

  • According to Arthritis Australia, an estimated 4 million Australians have some form of arthritis.
  • This figure is expected to rise to 5.4 million by 2030.
  • 50% of people with arthritis experience moderate to severe pain.
  • One in five Australians with arthritis experience high or very high levels of psychological distress.
  • 75% of Australians with arthritis over the age of 45 also have at least one other chronic health condition.
  • Approximately 2.2 million Australians have osteoarthritis, with females affected more so than men.
  • 52,000 people aged between 15 and 64 are unable to work due to arthritis.
  • Arthritis is the second most common cause of early retirement due to ill-health.

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