What to eat and what NOT to eat if you have arthritis

What to eat and what NOT to eat if you have arthritis

Unfortunately, there is no magic solution for arthritis, so if someone tells you that you can cure this disease (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.), do not believe them. Diet alone cannot cure arthritis, but eating healthily does strengthen your body from within and can improve some aspects of the disease.

Below are some foods that can help you alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as pain, swelling and warm joints.


Beans, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, lentils, soybeans, broad beans, peas… these are the most common legumes, all of which have a high lysine content, an organic compound that helps with cartilage recovery and preventing muscle fatigue.

Beans help reduce levels of C reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, which is responsible for inflammation in the joints affected by arthritis. Beans are also an excellent source of protein, which is essential for muscular health. Their high folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium content, makes them highly beneficial to the immune system, which can trigger autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Soybeans are rich in calcium, vitamin B, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also used to make tofu, which is becoming more and more popular in various different cuisines. Soybeans are a great option for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

How much should I eat? One cup of legumes, twice a week is enough. It is important to include legumes in your diet if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Pistachios and almonds

Nuts like pistachios and almonds are rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and linoleic acid, which strengthens the immune system.

A study carried over 15 years, showed that people who consumed more nuts were 51% less likely to develop an inflammatory disease (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011).

How much should I eat? A handful per day is plenty. Nuts are especially great for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Leafy greens

Green, leafy vegetables, especially kale, broccoli, red cabbage, cauliflower and chard, are an excellent protector for the body, only around 25 calories per portion and rich in vitamin C. They also raise the potassium levels in the body. You should aim for 5 portions of these foods a day. They have antioxidant properties and are a great source of nitrates and nitrites, which promote the dilation of arteries, which in turn promotes healthy blood flow and lowers high blood pressure levels.

A general rule is that the more colorful the salad, the better it is for you. Eat salads that contain a rainbow of different vegetables and your body will thank you.

Garlic, onions and leeks

These three foods contain sulfur, a vital mineral for collagen formation in the ligaments, cartilage and tendons. They also naturally reduce inflammation, which is perfect for rheumatic diseases, especially osteoarthritis.

A great tip for cooking with garlic is to mince it, then wait ten minutes before adding it to the pan, as this makes its chemical compounds more resistant to the heat during cooking and boosts its anti-inflammatory properties.

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts

These cruciferous vegetables contain vitamin K and C, as well as a compound called sulforaphane, which helps with delaying cartilage damage (tissue that covers the bone in the joints).

These foods are not only useful for treating osteoarthritis, they will also help protect your joints in the future!

Chard, spinach, lettuce and arugula

These leafy greens are rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K, which protect the cells from damage by free radicals, which are associated with rheumatoid arthritis. These foods are also high in calcium, which is very important for healthy bones.

Consuming 800 g, or 10 portions of 80 g, of fruit and vegetables a day, is associated with a lower risk of disease in general.

Imperial College London


Most fruits have about 54 calories per portion and contain antioxidants such as vitamins A and C. One portion is equal to 80 grams, which is roughly the size of a tennis ball. Remember not to add sugar, even in juices or smoothies, as fruits already contain enough naturally occurring sugars.

Cherries, blueberries and strawberries are examples of berries that contain anthocyanins, a natural anti-inflammatory. Cherries, on the other hand, reduce the frequency of attacks of gout, another type of arthritis that produces sudden and intense pain, inflammation and redness.

Citrus fruits, like lemons, limes, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit, are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. They prevent inflammatory arthritis and help maintain healthy joints.Other fruits with these properties include mango, kiwi, pineapple and melon.

[Nota para el montajista: resaltar esta frase del texto]

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which protect cells from free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cellular damage.

Whole grains

Foods like oats, brown rice, quinoa and barley, reduce levels of C reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, which is usually responsible for increasing inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

These grains have a high fiber content and, according to the American Diabetes Association, you should eat between 20 and 15 g of fiber a day. In addition, these grains are great for digestion, they keep you feeling full and help control your cholesterol levels.

Remember to stay hydrated to ensure you receive all of these benefits and prepare your grains as shown below:


  • Oats
  • Cornflakes
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts

Insoluble fiber

  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ

[Poner ilustraciones de cucharas con su respectivo contenido y poner el texto: 1 tablespoon of oats + 1 tablespoon  of cornflakes + 1 tablespoon of chia seeds + 1 tablespoon of wheat bran, or 1 tablespoon of oats + 1 tablespoon of cornflakes + 1 tablespoon of nuts + 1 tablespoon of wheat germ]

Fiber should be consumed in a 3:1 ratio of soluble to insoluble fiber.

Green tea

Green tea is rich in antioxidants (polyphenols) that reduce inflammation and delay cartilage damage. They also contain another antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (catechins), which interrupts the production of molecules that damage the joints, especially in rheumatoid arthritis.

To enhance the anti-inflammatory properties of your tea, just add a few drops of lemon juice, as this will help your body absorb up to 5 times more catechins (Purdue University, 2007).


Extra-virgin olive oil contains healthy fats, like omega-3, which has similar properties to anti-inflammatory medications. Other healthy oils include avocado and peanut oil.

Fats are essential for the functioning of the body, given that they are a source of energy and promote the absorption of certain vitamins. Vegetable oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, corn, soybean, flax, avocado and nut oils, particularly almond oil, are healthy when consumed in moderation.

Animal oils are not recommended because they contain saturated and trans-fats, which are not good for your health. To get the most benefit out of olive oil, use it as a dressing and not for cooking, as heat can cause it to lose many of its valuable nutrients. Avocado oil on the other hand, is ideal for high temperature cooking.


Proper hydration is the ideal way to complement a healthy diet and alleviate arthritis symptoms. Here are some healthy habits to incorporate into your daily routine to ensure you stay hydrated:

  • As soon as you wake up, drink a large glass of room-temperature water (500 ml)
  • Aim to drink 2 liters of water a day, or more depending on what your body needs
  • Accompany your meals with water or sugar-free juice instead of soda

Foods that are NOT recommended for arthritis

Now that you know which foods you should be including in your diet, below are the foods that you should avoid in order to improve arthritis symptoms.

Reducing the amount of fried and processed foods you eat can reduce inflammation and help boost your body’s natural defences. Incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your diet instead.

An excess amount of refined sugars and carbohydrates in your diet can put your joint health at risk by worsening inflammation and therefore increasing pain. In addition, excess sugar leads to weight gain and pressure on the joints, increasing the risk of inflammation and wear in the joints.

Milk protein and its derivatives can increase joint pain by irritating the surrounding tissue.

Excessive consumption of salt and foods containing conservatives can cause inflammation in the joints. Read nutritional labels to avoid buying products that contain conservatives and additives. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet can help you better control your arthritis.

Below is a list of common foods with a high salt content:

  • Bread and baked goods
  • Ham
  • Pizza
  • Restaurant or processed chicken
  • Soups
  • Fast food
  • Processed cheese
  • Pasta (lasagna or spaghetti with meat sauce)
  • Packaged and processed foods (snacks)

To lower your salt consumption, you can:

  • Put your salt shaker out of reach while you are eating (not on the table)
  • Season foods with herbs and spices like, rosemary, oregano, basil, curry and chilli pepper etc.
  • Avoid heavily processed dressings and sauces
  • Make your own meals at home

Recipes for combating arthritis

Now you know which foods can help with arthritis, here are some easy recipes to try out:

One-pot rice and lentils

Lentils are an important source of lysine and protein which help with cartilage recovery in the joints. This is a quick and easy way to prepare lentils that will save you loads of time:

  1. Rinse and drain 1 cup of lentils (220 g) and 1 cup of rice (220 g). That’s right, you can mix them.
  2. Add 4 cups of water (960 ml).
  3. Add whichever condiments or vegetables you like and mix well.
  4. Cook until all the water has evaporated. Then, turn off the stove, partially cover with the lid and leave to cool.

Delicious, homemade almond milk

As well as helping with arthritis, almonds make for a healthy milk alternative that can help your digestive system:

  1. Soak 1 cup (200 ml) of raw almonds overnight.
  2. Rinse well and drain the almonds.
  3. Blend the almonds with 3 cups of water (720 ml). If you like, you can add a few drops of vanilla or a pinch of cinnamon.
  4. Strain the liquid using a muslin cloth or fine cheesecloth.
  5. Store your drink in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Garlic and onion sauce

Both garlic and onion help to reduce inflammation in the joints and when eaten together, they are a winning combination. Add this delicious sauce to your dishes or use it as a salad dressing:

  1. Chop 2 large onions and 4 cloves of garlic, then fry in extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. Blend the onion and garlic and add a bit of coconut milk until the mixture reaches a creamy consistency.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Broccoli balls

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, incorporating broccoli into your diet can help prevent and combat joint inflammation. Here is a fun recipe using this amazing vegetable:

  1. In a food processor, blend 1 medium-sized head of broccoli without the stems until it forms a crumbly texture.
  2. Add 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 chive stem, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 25 g of wholegrain bread crumbs to the food processor and blend until well incorporated.
  3. Shape the mixture into small balls and fry in a small amount of olive oil until they start to brown.

Green salad with avocado

Leafy green vegetables contain essential vitamins that protect cells and could also help prevent rheumatoid arthritis if consumed daily like in this delicious salad:

  1. Wash and chop ½  cup of spinach ½ cup of lettuce  ½ cup of chard, ½ cup of arugula, 1 small avocado and a cup of cherry tomatoes.
  2. Prepare a vinaigrette with the juice of one lime, a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste.
  3. Mix well and serve.

Vegan strawberry mousse

Of all the berries, strawberries are especially low in sugar and help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis. Enjoy this delicious dessert knowing that it is good for you too:

  1. Blend 100 g of strawberries and sweeten to taste with a sweetener of your choice, such as stevia.
  2. Add 200 g of fresh tofu and keep blending for a few minutes until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Pour the mousse into individual moulds and decorate with strawberry slices.

Remember, to maintain a healthy weight you should eat a varied, balanced diet full of fresh foods; You should also try to exercise every day (at least a 30-minute walk “as if you were being chased”, to increase your heart rate).

But, what does weight have to do with arthritis? A lot! Maintaining a healthy weight helps to reduce the amount of stress on the joints and therefore, the symptoms of arthritis.

Remember, prevention is better than a cure, so we encourage you to incorporate the foods mentioned in this article into your diet, eat healthily and do regular exercise. Accept the challenge and prepare yourself for amazing results!


Guia practica para aprender a comer, recetario del corazón [Alexandra Perez, Maritza Gomez, Monica Forero, Miguel Gomez, Juan Santacruz, Mafe Abadía. Mayo 2018]