Arthritis: Do’s and Don’ts in Diet

  • Arthritis is an inflammation or degradation of the joints
  • Some types of arthritis can become painful or flare up for a certain period
  • You may not be able to reverse arthritis, but you can reduce the  inflammation
  • Lifestyle changes significantly influence the way someone living with arthritis experiences day to day life
  • Be wary of supplements for joint health and consult your healthcare provider before adding something new to your regimen.

Aches and pains are sometimes part of life, but chronic pain from arthritis is more extensive. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that occurs when joint health begins to deteriorate. Although it may not always be painful, reducing and preventing inflammation can help with symptoms of arthritis. 

What foods are good for arthritis?

Eating foods that aid in controlling inflammation has been shown to alleviate joint pain from arthritis. The ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ is helpful for heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, and other conditions.

This includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats. They lower inflammatory markers in the blood, decrease joint pain, and improve cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure.

Let’s dive into some of the best foods to alleviate joint pain and reduce inflammation!



This protein source is high in Omega-3s. Omega-3s are a healthy fat that has been shown to decrease inflammation, improve cholesterol, and relieve joint pain! Fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel help reduce inflammation in the joints. Choose one serving twice a week for optimal results. 

Olive oil:

This heart-healthy oil is high in monounsaturated fat and oleocanthal, which have properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) that help reduce pain. Extra virgin olive oil is your healthiest option. 

Low-fat dairy:

High in calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, dairy also supports a robust immune system. One study found that women who drank milk were less likely to develop arthritis. 

Cruciferous vegetables:

Hearty veggies like broccoli contain sulforaphane, a compound that slows the development of osteoarthritis. 

Whole grains:

Hearty grains have been proven to reduce inflammatory markers like CRP in the body. CRP is a blood marker of increased inflammation in the body. Choose complex carbohydrate sources like whole wheat, barley, oats, and brown rice most of the time at your meals. Complex carbs improve CPR by providing vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that combat inflammation.

Green tea:

The antioxidant EGCG in green tea has been shown to block the production of molecules in individuals who have joint deterioration from rheumatoid arthritis. Antioxidants reduce free radicals and decrease inflammation in the body. 

Garlic and onions:

Belonging to the allium family, onions, leeks, and garlic contain compounds that may limit enzymes that damage cartilage tissue. Research found that people who consumed more garlic had less joint pain. 


A word on supplements

Supplements may be effective for better joint health. Specifically, fish oil, curcumin, and glucosamine are powerful joint pain reducers. 

However, choosing a  supplement can be challenging due to the unregulated market. Most supplements are not tested to prove what they contain is truly the product they claim. 

Pick third-party tested supplements, and always discuss with your doctor before adding something new to your regimen. 

If arthritis has your joints feeling stiff and achy, consider an anti-inflammatory approach! Choosing an anti-inflammatory diet is a lifestyle change and takes time to implement. Consider starting slowly by emphasizing fruits and veggies at each meal. They offer a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and improve pain over time. 


The anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to improve joint pain in individuals with arthritis. This diet is high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats. 

Scientific Information

  • Arthritis: an inflammatory process that involves the deterioration of the joint
  • Anti-inflammatory diet: a diet that has been clinically proven to reduce inflammatory markers in the body
  • Glucosamine: a component of cartilage that can be taken in supplement form; it has been shown to improve arthritis pain
  • Curcumin: the active compound found in the turmeric spice that has been shown to lower inflammation and improve joint health
  • Fish oil: a supplement shown to improve inflammation of the joints in addition to many other areas of health such as heart disease and cholesterol
Written by:
Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES
Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator



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