7 Nuts & Seeds To Help Fight Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, with around 8.5 million people living with this condition in the UK. While there are medications available to treat arthritis, a good diet can also play a crucial role in reducing joint pain and inflammation.
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of essential nutrients that can help support joint health. They may be small, but nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Some nuts and seeds even include alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid.
Nuts and seeds are easy to add into your diet: simply sprinkle them onto your recipes, include them in fruit bowls and salads, or use them as a tasty and nutritious snack on their own! Which nuts and seeds are best for helping to fight arthritis? Read on to find out.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have allergies to any of the ingredients in this or any of our other food related blog posts then it might not be suitable or safe for you. If in doubt please consult your GP or healthcare professional.
Walnuts have a higher omega-3 fatty acid content when compared to most other nuts. Omega 3- fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint pain and stiffness and may actually be able to help you avoid certain types of arthritis, including rheumatoid. Walnuts also have other benefits such as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a protein made by the liver that increases when there is inflammation in the body. One study found that adding walnuts and flax oil to your diet can lower C-reactive protein (CRP), whilst another found that eating walnuts regularly can lower cholesterol, blood pressure and CRP levels. Research has also shown that eating walnuts regularly can improve joint function and reduce the risk of developing arthritis. A quarter of a cup of walnuts provides about 95% of the daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed (also known as linseed) is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted into omega-3 fatty acids in the body and helps maintain the joint’s cell function. ALA also helps generate Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are essential for producing prostaglandins - anti-inflammatory chemicals in the blood. Flaxseed also contains more lignans (fibre-associated compounds), which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint pain and inflammation as well as potentially ward off certain cancers. Flaxseed is a great vegetarian and vegan alternative to fish oil, which is also high in omega 3. Flaxseed also contains estrogen-like, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium properties, which can also help lower inflammation and improve bone and joint health. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed contains over 140% daily value of the inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids. Some medicines may interact negatively with flaxseed, so please speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re thinking about incorporating flaxseed into your diet.
3. Chia seeds
Like other nuts and seeds on this list, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and antioxidants. Chia seeds don’t need to be ground: the globular, gel-like coating they get when in liquid makes the omega-3 bioavailable to consume directly. Chia seeds also contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may be effective at fighting inflammation. Chia seeds also contain zinc and copper, which are helpful for combating joint pain and inflammation. People need copper to help them develop firm bones, skin and other connective tissues - including cartilage and ligaments, which is really important for osteoarthritis. Zinc is helpful for reducing inflammatory cytokines, which can help relieve painful symptoms.
Like other nuts, almonds are high in fibre, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and Omega-3 fats which all have anti-inflammatory effects. Almonds are also rich in vitamin E, which has been described as a ‘potent antioxidant’ with anti-inflammatory properties. Eating almonds can also reduce your hunger, as they are low in carbs but high in protein and fibre. One study found that eating 1.5 ounces (or 43 grams ) of almonds every day significantly reduced hunger, whilst other research found that adding 3 ounces (83 grams) of almonds to a low-calorie diet increased weight loss by 62% compared to a diet which focused on complex carbohydrates. Maintaining a healthy weight is really important when you have arthritis, as excess weight puts more pressure on the joints and can lead to excess pain.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. They also contain antioxidants, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, which are really beneficial for your overall health and lowering inflammation. Pumpkin seeds are also a vegan source of calcium and zinc, which are really important minerals for keeping your bones healthy. These tasty seeds are also a good source of iron, which can help battle fatigue and help you feel energised throughout your day. In addition to this, pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote and improve sleep - it can be hard to get quality sleep when you’re in pain, so making sure you’re getting your daily dose of tryptophan can be really helpful.
6. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are rich in copper, which can help reduce joint pain and stiffness. Sesame seeds also contain sesamin, a compound which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. One study found that “sesamin supplementation also caused a significant reduction in the number of tender joints and severity of pain” in patients with rheumatoid arthritis because it reduced inflammatory meditators, whilst another study suggested sesamin could have therapeutic benefits for treating inflammation in osteoarthritis. Other research suggests sesamin could help with reversing changes in cartilage affected by osteoarthritis and that it could lead to increased cartilage thickness, which is really what you want! Sesame seeds are also rich in manganese, calcium and iron and may lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease!
Pecans contain anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to their magnesium, calcium, and fibre. They also contain omega-3 fats, which help reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of molecules like cytokines which trigger inflammatory responses. Omega-3 also helps keep the balance between omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats, which can help prevent chronic inflammation. Pecans contain vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc, which are helpful for supporting the immune system so your body can repair damage and fight off infection. These nuts are also a source of ellagic acid, which is a polyphenol and acts as an antioxidant which can help protect the joints from oxidative stress and damage, plus they contain calcium and phosphorus which help keep the bones strong and healthy. Pecans are ranked in the top 20 of foods with high antioxidant levels, which suggests they are helpful for reducing inflammation - which is what you want when you have osteoarthritis!
What nuts and seeds do you swear by? Let us know on Facebook.
News from flexiseq