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On the menu: Arthritis-friendly foods

A group of strawberries, cut and whole.

Produce to the rescue. This sounds like a job for superfood!

June 30, 2019—Here's a little food for thought if you have arthritis: Something as simple as eating a variety of fruits and vegetables might help ease joint pain and damage, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The foods below are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that may help lower the inflammation that often attacks joints.

Better yet, they can fight inflammation throughout your body—not just in joints. That means they may help lower the risk of other serious conditions, such as heart disease and some cancers.

Fruits to fill your plate with

Take a bite out of arthritis pain with these fruits:

  • Tart cherries. Studies show they may soothe sore joints in osteoarthritis—the most common kind of arthritis—and help prevent gout attacks. Much of this protective power may come from the antioxidant anthocyanin. This naturally occurring plant chemical gives cherries their bright red color.
  • Strawberries. Women who eat 16 or more strawberries a week may lower their blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for body-wide inflammation, research shows. Like tart cherries, strawberries are loaded with anthocyanin. Per serving, they also have more vitamin C than an orange. And vitamin C may help reduce the risk of gout.
  • Red raspberries. Few berries deliver more anthocyanin and vitamin C than these. Animal studies indicate they may ease osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • Avocados. They're rich in monounsaturated fats and other compounds associated with a lower risk of joint damage in osteoarthritis.
  • Watermelon. Research shows it also lowers C-reactive protein. Plus, it's high in beta-cryptoxanthin, a plant chemical that may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Red and black grapes. Both are good sources of resveratrol, a potent anti-inflammatory compound. It targets the same cells as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the most-used medicines to ease arthritis pain.

High-value veggies

For even more anti-arthritis benefits, make room for these vegetables:

  • Dark green leafy veggies (such as spinach and kale). Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K help these veggies fight inflammation.
  • Cruciferous veggies (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower). Besides being great sources of vitamins A, C and K, cruciferous veggies contain a compound—sulforaphane—that may help keep osteoarthritis from getting worse. Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables may also help prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Bright red or orange veggies (such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash). The substance that gives these veggies their color—beta-cryptoxanthin—may also reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Peppers. They're a super source of vitamin C. Besides protecting against gout, vitamin C protects cells in cartilage. That's the layer of cushioning tissue between your bones that breaks down with osteoarthritis, causing joint pain.
  • Onions, garlic, leeks and shallots. They all belong to the allium family and contain a plant chemical that may reduce enzymes that can harm cartilage.

From stove to table

Whatever produce ends up on your plate, choose your cooking methods wisely. For instance, steaming or sautéing will preserve more healthy nutrients than boiling.

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