7 Vegetables to Add To Your Arthritis Diet
It’s important for everyone to eat a healthy, balanced diet which contains plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and wholegrains, in order for you to get the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function.
If you have osteoarthritis, your condition is causing inflammation in the joints which can lead to pain. Managing and reducing inflammation may help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This can be managed with anti-inflammation medications, but you can also find anti-inflammatory properties in certain foods - including vegetables.
Can eating a healthy diet ‘cure’ my arthritis?
There is no wonder diet which will magically make your arthritis go away, but there are foods you can include to help your body stay healthy, reduce inflammation, improve energy and generally feel better. Here are 7 vegetables that can help with joint pain and arthritis.
1. Colourful vegetables
Colourful veggies such as broccoli, beetroot, sweet potatoes and cabbage are rich in the necessary vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, minerals and polyphenols (plant compounds which offer various health benefits including better digestion, brain health and neutralising free radicals which may otherwise harm your cells).
Looking for inspiration? Take a look at this Sweet Potato, Spinach, Mushroom & Cauliflower Rice recipe.
Red, yellow and orange vegetables, like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, and red bell peppers contain carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants which can enhance your immune system and help keep disease at bay.
2. Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, collard and turnip greens are all rich in vitamin K. Deficiencies in vitamin K are associated with increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, as vitamin K is important for the healthy functioning of proteins in cartilage and bone.
In order to get the most out of your vegetables, try eating them raw or lightly steaming or sauteing them instead of frying, baking or boiling to avoid breaking down and losing their nutrients.
Looking for meal tips? Take a look at our Spinach & Edamame Beans Soba Noodle Stir Fry recipe.
3. Garlic and onions
Garlic and onions both contain an anti-inflammatory compound called quercetin which may be beneficial for relieving some of the pain of arthritis. Garlic, onions and leeks also contain sulphur compounds, which may help reduce cartilage damage.
Onions and garlic are also good for your immune system, so they can help your body fight infection and disease.
Vitamin D is really important for allowing the body to absorb calcium, maintain a healthy immune functioning, improve bone development, and reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, many of us are not getting enough vitamin D, which can lead to all sorts of problems like fatigue, sore bones, muscle weakness and aches, and low or altered mood.
We get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to spend at least 20 minutes outside to soak up the sunshine and reap the benefits. Living in the U.K, however, often means that our hours of sunshine in the winter months are limited, especially if we work during the day.
You can get some of your necessary vitamin D from food. Eggs, cheese, fatty fish, cod liver oil, pork, yoghurt, tofu, tuna salmon, shrimp and fortified cereals can help you up your vitamin D intake. You can also get vitamin D from certain vegetables, such as sun exposed mushrooms and spinach.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably heard about vitamin B12 and how it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it if you’re not consuming meat. B12 is important for keeping the body's blood and nerve cells healthy, and it can also help prevent anaemia which can result in people feeling tired and weak.
B12 may also play a role in controlling bone metabolism, and it can also help protect the nerves and reduce pain from old injuries. Meat, dairy and eggs are high in B12, but you can also get this vitamin from fortified foods like cereals and nutritional yeast. Nori, which is dried edible seaweed typically found in sushi, is also a good source of B12.
A 2014 study found that 4 grams of dried nori meets the daily requirements for vitamin B12 intake. Seaweed also contains antioxidants, is a good source of vitamins and fibre, and it may help reduce inflammation at the cellular level.
6. Fibrous veg
You’ve probably heard that having enough fibre in your diet is important, but do you know why? Fibre helps maintain bowel health, it can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it helps keep you full for longer and can thus help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and it can reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Fibre may also help lower inflammation in the body, which is really important for people living with arthritis.
Alongside whole wheat grains, legumes, chia seeds, berries and certain fruits, avocados, green peas, edamame beans, artichokes, kale, yams, squash and brussel sprouts are all good sources of fibre.
You may have heard that the mediterranean diet, which alongside healthy foods is rich in olive oil, is good for arthritis and general health, but how much truth is in this claim?
Olive oil contains phenolic compounds that have anti-inflammatory benefits, which may be helpful for arthritis. They contain antioxidants and may be helpful in preventing cartilage damage in people with osteoarthritis, and they may be able to improve bone health.
One study on mice also found that mice which were fed extra virgin olive oil for six weeks had reduced joint swelling, decreased inflammation, slow cartilage destruction and were less likely to develop arthritis.
What type of olive oil is best? Extra virgin olive oil goes through less processing, and so retains more of its nutrients when compared to other olive oils.
Have you found any vegetables or other foods helpful for relieving the symptoms of arthritis? Let us know on Facebook.