16 foods to eat if you have arthritis or joint pain

If you have arthritis or joint pain, you know how devastating it can be. An ounce of prevention equates to a pound of cure. Your everyday routine can have a significant impact on the health and longevity of your joints. Hence, it would help if you adopt dietary habits that support your bones and joints.

No exact diet has been proven to cure arthritis. However, studies have shown that certain diets, foods, and spices may help reduce pain and joint inflammation from arthritis.

Table of Content

1.Mediterranean diet
5.Other anti-inflammatory foods to eat
6.Foods to avoid

Mediterranean diet

Many research studies have found that the Mediterranean diet confers various health benefits, some of which overlap those attributed to anti-inflammatory medications.

A Mediterranean diet consists of:

  • High amounts of low-glycemic fruit, vegetables, and legumes
  • High level of unsaturated fats, particularly olive oil, complemented by a modest amount of alcohol, primarily in the form of wine
  • Moderate-to-high level of wild fish


Fruits contain plenty of vitamins that our immune system craves.


Grapes derive its anti-inflammatory properties from a compound called proanthocyanin, which can reduce inflammation and joint pain. Furthermore, grapes are nutrient-dense and high in antioxidants.

Citrus fruits

It is commonly known that our immune system craves vitamin C. Oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits are potent in vitamin C, which may help prevent inflammatory arthritis and joint pain. Antioxidants in Vitamin C may also slow the progression of osteoarthritis.


Cherries, particularly unsweetened tart cherry juice, have been shown to reduce joint pain and inflammation in people suffering from arthritis (1). Studies have also associated fresh cherries to fewer gout flare-ups (2).


Berries contain antioxidants that may reduce arthritis-related inflammatory markers in the blood. Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are just a few options that can satisfy your sweet tooth and provide plenty of arthritis-fighting nutrients.


Vegetables are good for your joints.


Popeye, the Sailor Man, loved spinach because it is delicious and rich in antioxidants. One of the spinach’s compounds is kaempferol, which has been proven to reduce inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis (3). It is also shown to slow down osteoarthritis progression (4).


Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which helps relieve joint pain and decreases the inflammatory markers associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Also, broccoli may be helpful for athletes who put a lot of pressure on their joints.


Aside from infusing extra flavor to the dishes, spices have many beneficial qualities when taken as a hot or a cold spiced beverage.


Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. Curcumin may be beneficial in the management of a chronic inflammatory-related joint disease. One study found that a curcumin extract is as effective as ibuprofen at easing knee aches and pains (5).


Ginger has been shown to reduce arthritis symptoms. A study showed that ginger significantly reduced pain in 63% of people who experienced severe knee joint pain (6).

Ginger can also add a burst of flavors to teas, soups, and sweets when used in fresh, powdered, or dried forms. 


Garlic contains a compound termed diallyl disulfide, which is shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the risk and progression of osteoarthritis.

Green tea

Green tea contains a compound termed polyphenolic, which helps relieve pain and inflammation (7). Another compound of green tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is also shown to stop joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis (8).

Other anti-inflammatory foods to eat

The list of foods that help relieve joint pain is not restricted to fruits, vegetables, and spices.

Fatty fish and fish oil

Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which has been proven to fight inflammation and decrease joint pain (9). Their vitamin D potency also helps in reducing the symptoms of arthritis.

Try incorporating fish to your diet a couple of times a week. Natural sources of fish oil that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and trout. If you’re not a big fan of fish, you can opt for an omega-3 supplement.

Olive oil

Olive oil may reduce inflammation and also lower the risk of arthritis. Often associated with the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is considered an unsaturated “healthy” fat. It is also an excellent source of omega-3.

Instead, usea few tablespoons of olive oil for cooking and making salad dressings. Better yet, opt for the extra virgin variety that is less processed.

Whole-grain foods

Whole-grain foods have been proven to produce fatty acids, which may lower the anti-inflammatory markers in the blood (10). Therefore, stick with whole-grain foods like brown pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereals.

Refined grains (e.g., white flour) have the opposite effect. Research suggests that refined grains (such as white bread, white rice, and regular pasta) may trigger an inflammatory response in the body (11).

Nuts and seeds

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds, and pine nuts contain high amounts of calcium, magnesium, protein, vitamin E, and alpha-linolenic that may help reduce inflammation in the joints.

Keep in mind that while nuts are good for you, they also contain very high in calories, so restrict yourself to a handful a day.

Bone broth

Bone broth contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and amino acids, all of which are well-documented to help maintain healthy joints. Also, calcium is essential for bone density. Furthermore, the gelatin-like substance that comes from bone broth mimics collagen that occurs naturally in our joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Bone broth can be consumed as a hot broth or used as a cooking base or sauce.

Dark chocolate

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, contains antioxidants that can counteract insulin resistance and inflammation.

But remember, chocolate can be high in sugar and fat, so consume it in moderation. If you’re going to indulge, choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.

Foods to avoid

Avoid certain foods if you’re trying to lessen joint pain.

Sugar and refined grains

Sugar and refined grains, including white rice, white bread, and pasta, are the worst culprits when it comes to relieving or reducing joint inflammation.

What you can do: Limit daily added sugar to six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men. When using sugar, choose natural sources like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.

Fried and processed foods

Processed foods are generally high in omega-6, which can cause inflammation. Sources include corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, and vegetable oil.

What you can do: Reduce the quantity of fried and processed foods you eat.

Lower your AGEs

AGErefers to an advanced glycation end product (AGE).It is a toxin that appears when foods are heated, grilled, fried, or pasteurized.

AGEs can damage specific proteins in your body. Your body attempts to break these AGEs apart by using inflammatory cytokines. Depending on where the AGEs are produced, they may cause arthritis.

What you can do: Reducing the amount of food cooked at high temperatures could help reduce blood AGE levels.

Dairy products

Dairy products may induce arthritis pain due to the presence of C-reactive protein. For some people, the C-reactive protein may irritate the tissue around the joints.

If you’re concerned regarding your body’s reaction to dairy products, eliminate dairy for a few weeks and then reintroduce it to see how you respond.

What you can do:Try getting most of your protein from vegetables like spinach, nut butter, tofu, beans, lentils, and quinoa.

Salt and preservatives

Know what’s in your food. Many foods contain salt and other preservatives to prolong shelf lives. Excess consumption of salt may result in joint inflammation. Reduce your salt intake to a modest amount.

What you can do: Read labels carefully to avoid additives and preservatives. Though they’re convenient, ready meals are often very high in sodium.

Corn oil

Many bakedsnacks contain corn or other oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, which may trigger inflammation.

What you can do: Replace corn oil with healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 alternatives such as olive oil, flax seeds, nuts, and pumpkin seeds.


There’s no established arthritis diet plan. What works for someone else may not work for you. Trial and error will help you identify which foods you need to eliminate from your diet.

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