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The Best Foods for Joint Health

Your joints are some of the most important structures in the human body. For one, they connect your bones so you can bend your elbows, knees, and other extremities. Second, your joints help your bones avoid friction and prevent damage. Thus, having healthy joints is important.

With healthy joints, you can move around, play sports, and pursue your hobbies. Eating a balanced diet is part of maintaining good health and strong joints. In fact, your joints can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet that includes fruits and vegetables. But which foods are good for your joints? We’ve listed several foods that’ll help you keep your joints healthy.

Berries

Berries contain plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Cherries, for instance, have plenty of anthocyanins, pigments that have antioxidant effects. Eating tart cherries regularly can offer joint pain relief if you have osteoarthritis. And if you’re avoiding gout, fresh and black cherries are excellent options. Black cherries, in particular, can help your uric acid go down. But if you’re not a fan of cherries, you can go for elderberries, raspberries, and other kinds of berries rich in antioxidants.

Avocado

Avocado is a staple in many meals — scrambled eggs, guacamole, salads, and more. To fruit can help you maintain strong joints with its antioxidant mono-saturated oils, essential fatty acids, beta-sitosterol, and vitamin E contents. 

However, avocado’s anti-inflammatory benefits don’t stop at its antioxidants. It also has properties that can help cartilage heal and Vitamin E that can help slow down joint damage. Additionally, a daily serving of avocado can increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels and decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol. 

Grapefruit

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids are the main anti-inflammatories in grapefruit. These antioxidants can help reduce swollen joints and strengthen cartilage. Plus, it is rich in Vitamin C, which is proven to help fight off osteoarthritis. Researchers at the Boston University Medical Center found that patients are three times less likely to get osteoarthritis if they take enough Vitamin C.

Moreover, excess body weight puts you at risk for osteoarthritis. Eating grapefruit might help your appetite go down before a meal, which can help with weight loss. If you want to get more out of grapefruit, consider getting red grapefruit. It contains more antioxidants than the yellow ones, as well as beta carotene and lycopene.

Red Apples

As the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are rich in antioxidants, including quercetin. Quercetin in apples can help you prevent arthritis and joint pain. Plus, an apple has boron and magnesium that contribute to healthier bones.

Still not convinced that apples are one of the best foods for healthy joints? Red apples have all of the nutrients we’ve mentioned, plus anthocyanins. Like red cherries, red apples contain anthocyanins which are powerful enough to combat swelling.

Red Peppers

Along with grapefruits and other citrus fruits, red peppers contain Vitamin C. Vitamin C in red peppers offers several health benefits for your joints and bones. For example, Vitamin C keeps your joints strong and helps produce collagen in your cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Moreover, it helps keep cartilage cells from degenerating, too.

Doctors recommend consuming 75 mg of red peppers for women and 90 mg for men every day. Otherwise, you’re more likely to develop osteoarthritis in your knees. You can get your fill of red peppers with a half-cup.

Onions & Garlic

Onions and garlic are alliums, a family of vegetables that contain sulfur compounds. Quercetin is abundant in onions and it can help lessen swelling. Meanwhile, garlic is rich in allicin which can give you relief from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

But quercetin and allicin aren’t the only helpful antioxidants for strong joints. Onions and garlic are rich in diallyl disulphide, as well. This compound might help decrease cartilage-damaging enzymes in the body. 

Kale

Dark, leafy greens can also help you maintain healthy joints. Kale is one of them, with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other nutrients to keep free radicals at bay. Plus, kale contains calcium, an element associated with strong bones. This superfood also has sulforaphane that helps reduce cartilage damage.

You can eat kale in several ways. Saute it as a side for chicken or fish, or toss it in a salad and eat it raw to enjoy its full benefits. And if you want a healthier snack, crispy kale chips are worth a try.

Legumes

Legumes are vegetables rich in lysine. Lysine helps repair your damaged cartilage and keeps you from getting tired. And what’s more, legumes contain protein that can help restore collagen in your cartilage.

Beans can be an excellent choice of legumes for healthy joints. Fiber and phytonutrients in beans may help your joints flare up less. Moreover, beans have around 15 grams of protein per cup for regenerating collagen.

Basil

Basil’s sweet smell comes from the enzyme eugenol, a helpful compound for preventing inflamed joints. If your joints swell, cyclooxygenase might be the culprit. Lipid mediators from cyclooxygenase may lead to inflamed joints. However, eugenol in basil can help keep the harmful enzyme from flaring up your joints.

Basil is a versatile herb, with people including it in many different dishes. It can be a great complement to omelets, pasta, meat, and vegetable meals. But if you’re keen on combating joint pain, go for holy basil.

Oily fish

Anti-inflammatory omega-3 acids in oily fish keep cartilage-damaging enzymes and inflammatory proteins from forming in your body. These positive effects lead to less achy joints. By eating two to three servings of oily fish per week, you can keep joint pain and swelling at bay.

Ready to include oily fish into your diet? Try canned salmon which contains calcium and vitamin D. Plus, it helps you avoid barbecued spareribs. You can even take your oily fish diet up a notch with smoked salmon on toast, mackerel fillets with olive oil, garlic, and lemon, or sardines on a Greek salad.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal and other kinds of whole grains can contribute to healthier joints. Oatmeal, in particular, is rich in avenanthramides — antioxidants that help fight inflammation. These anti-inflammatory compounds also keep you from itching, and they can help you avoid coronary heart disease and colon cancer.

If you’re exercising, your joints might recover from strains faster when you eat oatmeal with fruits and nuts regularly. Moreover, oatmeal has vitamin B6 which makes it an ideal pain reliever. Vitamin B6 might help your tissues loosen up, as well. And to top it off, oats help your cartilage heal faster and help strengthen your muscle and bone tissues. 

Walnuts

Walnuts contain a high amount of omega-3 acids and other anti-inflammatory nutrients. Plus, research shows that they help C-reactive protein levels decrease. When C-reactive protein inflames your joints, it might cause cardiovascular diseases or arthritis.

Regular servings of walnuts may lower your cholesterol levels and relax your blood vessels. Walnuts can also help regulate blood pressure. Walnuts can be eaten as is, but if you’re thinking of including them in your meals, they make excellent salad toppings. Walnuts are an excellent garnish for vegetable dishes because of their crisp texture.

Turmeric

A staple in curry and stir-fried dishes, turmeric contains curcumin. It’s been proven that curcumin has the same knee pain relieving effects as ibuprofen. Moreover, turmeric keeps pro-inflammatory enzymes and pain-causing chemicals from affecting your joints. Lower enzyme and chemical activity helps relieve swollen joints.

Curry powder is one good way to sneak a little turmeric into your meal, letting you enjoy curry while staying healthy. You can put the spice in a smoothie, as well.

Ginger

You’ve probably known that some treat their stomach aches with ginger. But there’s so much more to this root crop than a cure for an upset stomach. Like turmeric, ginger inhibits pro-inflammatory, pain-inducing genes and enzymes, resulting in joint pain relief. Plus, it can help ease aching muscles from intense workouts.

Ginger is another versatile complement to your meal or drink. For example, you can make your stir-fry, soup, or green juice tastier and healthier with some ginger. Or if you’re feeling a little fancy, ginger tea might do the trick.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Last but not least, we’ve got extra virgin olive oil. Research has shown that more of this olive oil variant can help you lower your risk for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. And it’s all thanks to natural antioxidants and compounds in the oil’s phytochemistry.

Anti-inflammatory polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil are natural pain relievers, making them one of the best joint health foods. And if that’s not enough, the oil has naturally phenolic oleocanthal. Oleocanthal also keeps pro-inflammatory enzymes from generating within your body.

Improve Your Joint Health & Function with Proper Care

Proper diet, exercise, and self-care are essential to healthy, active joints. They can help you prevent and treat a wide range of health problems, including injuries and ailments. And most importantly, eating healthy and looking after yourself will keep you active all the time.

If you’re looking to ease aching joints and achieve optimal health, LifeClinic offers holistic care for musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. Our chiropractic care, physical therapy, and rehabilitation services will help you manage your pain and improve your health. Start your recovery at a LifeClinic location near you today.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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