While there is no one magic food you can eat to cure arthritis, studies show that certain foods can help to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system. In addition to following a Mediterranean-style diet, here are seven foods recommended to those with arthritis.
See also: How diet affects arthritis
See also: Arthritis - should you treat the pain with heat or cold?
Sardines – best for rheumatoid arthritis
Research shows that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in rapeseed oil, free range eggs, oily fish and fish oil supplements) can help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis Research UK recommends eating oily fish at least twice a week. Sardines are a good choice as they contain calcium (and vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium), which can help lower your risk of developing osteoporosis – something which those with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to suffer from.
It's a good idea to take a supplement in addition to eating more fish. If you choose a fish-based supplement, experts recommend taking pure fish oil rather than fish liver oil. You could also add flaxseed or rapeseed oil to your food to get an omega-3 boost.
Green tea – best for rheumatoid arthritis
Research suggests that green tea may have anti-inflammatory properties. A study from Case Western Reserve University in the US found that EGCG (a substance in green tea) may halt arthritis progression by blocking interleukin-1, a pro-inflammatory cell, from damaging cartilage.
Green tea also have the highest levels of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which helps to protect against cancer. A good choice is Matcha powdered green tea leaves, which you can find in specialty tea shops or online.
Broccoli – best for osteoarthritis
According to researchers from the University of East Anglia, sulforaphane (found in broccoli, and to a lesser extent cabbage and Brussels sprouts), blocks enzymes that cause joint damage associated with osteoarthritis.
Broccoli is also a good source of vitamin K, which may help to slow the progression of osteoarthritis, according to a separate study from Boston University School of Medicine.
Sulforaphane is so effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis that scientists at pharmaceutical company Evgen Pharma have created a drug (Sulforadex) based on the compound.
Blueberries – best for rheumatoid arthritis
Eating an antioxidant-rich diet helps reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory types of the condition. In addition, antioxidants are known to support the immune system, which may be suppressed in those taking anti-inflammatory medication.
To get your antioxidants, it's best to eat a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables. If you only do one thing, eat more dark-coloured fruit – such as black grapes, blueberries, blackcurrants and prunes.
Extra-virgin olive oil – best for osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis
Extra-virgin olive oil contains a natural phenolic compound called oleocanthal, which prevents the production of pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. This reduces inflammation and eases the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, much in the same way that ibuprofen works.
When you're in the supermarket, choose an extra-virgin olive oil from Tuscany as these are said to have the highest oleocanthal levels.
Garlic – best for osteoarthritis
Eating a diet high in allium vegetables, such as garlic, onions, leeks and chives, may help prevent and even slow down the progression of osteoarthritis, according to research from King's College London and the University of East Anglia.
Garlic and onions contain a compound that blocks the enzymes that eat away at the cartilage, protecting joints from damage. Don't like the taste of garlic? Take an odourless garlic supplement to get the same benefits.
Sweet potatoes – best for rheumatoid arthritis
Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of fibre and beta-carotene, an antioxidant which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Both beta-carotene and fibre lower levels of C-reactive protein (one of the tell-tale biomarkers of rheumatoid arthritis), in the blood. The lower your C-reactive protein level, the less severe your symptoms should be.
Turmeric – best for osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis
This spice widely used in Indian cooking contains curcumin, which can help ease the pain of knee osteoarthritis and regulate the body's immune response, reducing the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.