The Best Foods for Improving Joint Health

You are probably familiar with the health benefits you receive from eating foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains. But did you know that healthy foods can also keep your joints healthy and minimize joint discomfort like inflammation, stiffness, or pain?

Joint health is very important if you suffer from osteoarthritis. While NSAIDs can help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis, food is also a powerful tool in managing joint health. If you suffer from joint issues, especially osteoarthritis, you will want to pay close attention to your diet because that diet can positively or negatively affect joint health depending on the types of food you are eating.

Here are a few recommendations for both foods that are known to help improve joint health and foods you will want to avoid if you suffer from joint issues like inflammation, stiffness, or pain.

Foods That Improve Joint Health

Inflammation is one of the biggest causes of joint discomfort. Fortunately, foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D can help reduce inflammation and stiffness. You will find Omega-3 and Vitamin D in fatty fish (e.g., wild salmon, cod, and sardines), nuts and seeds (e.g., walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds), and healthy oils (e.g., olive oil, walnut oil, and coconut oil).

The popular Mediterranean diet is rich in foods that can help keep joints healthy. Along with fatty fish and olive oil, the Mediterranean diet includes low-glycemic fruits and vegetables (e.g., pears, apples, oranges, cauliflower, asparagus, and artichokes) and minimizes your intake of dairy and red meat.

Other foods that improve joint health include:

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions and peppers
  • Squash
  • Lentils
  • Green tea
  • Spices like ginger and turmeric

Throw together a green smoothie with kale, apples, fresh-pressed orange juice, and a sprinkling of ginger and turmeric and your joints will thank you!

Foods That Don’t Improve Joint Health

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis or other joint discomfort, you will want to avoid foods known to cause inflammation. Unfortunately, many of the foods that lead to inflammation are the same foods that many people enjoy. But if you are serious about improving your joint health, stay as far away from these foods as you can.

The biggest foods known to cause inflammation are:

  • Dairy
  • Red meat including lamb and pork
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Fried food
  • Fast food
  • White flour

You will also want to avoid processed foods, foods high in trans-fats, and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are often found in vegetable oils (e.g., corn, canola, safflower) and mayonnaise.

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis or any joint discomfort resulting in stiffness and inflammation, consider the foods you are eating. Your diet can have a serious effect—both positive and negative—on your joint health. Make sure you are including as many anti-inflammatory foods as you can and avoiding those known to cause inflammation. Doing so will not only improve joint healthy but your overall health as well!