Foods for Joint Health

If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from arthritis, you may find a surprising ally in helping to manage joint pain—your diet.

If you thought it wasn’t possible to change the way your joints feel by changing your eating habits, think again!  Research supports the notion that the following foods may indeed help your joints.

Omega-3 decreases the production of chemicals that spread inflammation.

Foods with omega-3 include fatty fish (salmon, cod, sardines) and seeds/nuts (walnuts, soybean, flax seeds, canola oil, pumpkin seeds).  Omega-3 contains vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption in bones and prevents swelling and soreness in the joints.  Eat 4-ounces of salmon or a handful of walnuts per day. Drink 2 glasses of milk or spend 15 minutes daily in the sun to boost your vitamin D intake.  You should have at least 800 International Units (IU’s) of vitamin D daily.  If you don’t get it naturally, then supplementation is a good alternative.

Extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal which blocks enzymes involved in inflammation. One tablespoon per day on salads or bread is all you need.

Vitamin C-rich foods
such as sweet peppers, citrus fruits and strawberries protect collagen which is a major component of cartilage, the substance that provides cushioning between joints. Eat an orange or a cup of broccoli to promote wellness. Broccoli and cauliflower are also antioxidant-rich foods that counteract free radicals in the body which can damage cartilage.

Tart cherries have been found to cut inflammation by 50%. Recommendations are for ½ cup per day in any form: fresh/frozen/canned/dried/juice.



Brazil nuts have high amounts of selenium, a mineral that helps rid your cells of damaging free radicals. Low selenium may be linked to rheumatoid arthritis. All you need is 3-4 nuts or 3-ounces of tuna, beef or turkey per day.

Onions and leeks contain quercetin, an antioxidant that decreases inflammation. Other foods that have quercetin are kale, cherry tomatoes, and apples. Recommendations are for 1/2 cup per day.



Green Tea
has been known to have an antioxidant compound, epigallocatechin-3-gallate which decreases inflammation and possibly the severity of arthritis. Drink 1 cup per day, avoiding the decaffeinated version because some of the compounds are taken away.

Last but not least, drink water!
Don’t forget that water is essential for your body, including the cartilage in your joints. According the Mayo Clinic, men should intake 3 liters of water total in beverages per day.  For women, it’s 2.2 liters total per day.

Foods to Avoid

Some foods can actually flare up joint conditions, such as:

Shellfish, meats, high fat dairy foods, and beer
convert purine to uric acid which forms crystals in the joints (gout). Limit intake to 5-6 oz of lean meat/poultry/fish per day.

Sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which unlike Omega-3, increases inflammation.  Omega-6 fatty acids are prevalent in baked goods and snacks.  Try switching to healthy oils like olive or nut oils to reduce your Omega-6 intake.

Sugar may give you a quick energy boost, but it doesn’t last.  If the sugar is not used for energy, it converts to fat and that extra weight places more pressure on your joints. Sugar may also increase inflammation in your joints. Replace sweets with 1 cup of fresh fruit per day.

In addition to a healthy diet, low impact exercise can strengthen the muscles that support your joints and contribute to decreased pain with daily activities.

Our CPMC Fit For Life exercise program features a total-body approach to low impact fitness and is open to the community. Come join us!

Click Here to Learn More About CPMC’s Fit For Life Exercise Program
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