The foods we choose to eat have a big impact on our health, and choosing certain foods to add into our daily diet can even help ease arthritic pain.
There are many different anti-inflammatory foods that have been shown to help those with arthritis—especially the types of arthritis that involve systemic inflammation, like rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis—but first we'll focus on omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the symptoms of arthritis like joint pain and inflammation. There is no official recommended daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids, but most experts agree around 2.5 grams a day is a healthy target.
We've come up with a list of 9 foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and how to best incorporate each one into your diet.
9 Delicious foods containing omega-3 fatty acids
1. Chia seeds. ½ ounce (around 1 tablespoon) of chia seeds contains 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, or around 100% of the daily recommended value. Chia seeds are available in most health food stores. Sprinkle them in oatmeal, yogurt, or salad.
In recipes that call for one or two eggs, ground chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. See the recipe in detail.
2. Walnuts. ¼ cup of walnuts contains 2.7 grams of omega-3 fats, or 108% of the daily recommended value. Walnuts are delicious on their own as a snack, or you can sprinkle them on your oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.
3. Ground flaxseeds. 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains 1.5 grams of omega 3 fats, or 60% of the daily recommended value. You can buy whole or ground flaxseed at your local health food store. If you buy whole seeds, you can grind them in a regular coffee grinder. Ground flaxseeds are easier for the body to digest, as whole seeds may pass straight through the digestive tract.
Sprinkle ground flaxseeds in your oatmeal or yogurt, bake it into cookies and breads, or mix it with your mustard or mayonnaise.
4. Salmon. 4 ounces of salmon contain 1.32 grams of omega-3s, or 53% of the recommended daily value. Salmon is easy to grill or bake, and it is a delicious, simple main dish.
5. Brussels sprouts. 1 cup of Brussels sprouts has .3 grams of omega-3s, or 12% of the recommended daily value. A tasty way to eat Brussels sprouts is to toss them with salt, pepper, oil, and roast them in the oven. You can find prepped, ready-to-cook Brussels sprouts in the produce section of your grocery store.
6. Cauliflower. 1 cup of cauliflower has .2 grams of omega-3s, or 8% of the recommended daily value.
Cauliflower is delicious tossed with salt, pepper, and oil and roasted in the oven until it's brown and crispy on top.
7. Sardines. 3.2 ounces of sardines contain 1.5 grams of omega-3s, or 60% of the daily recommended value of omega-3s. The best way to incorporate sardines into your diet is to use wild, Pacific-caught, canned sardines. Try them on toast or pizza.
8. Mustard seeds. 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds have .2 grams of omega-3s, or 8% of the daily recommended value. Many Indian dishes begin with frying mustard seeds in hot oil, which brings out a sweet flavor in them.
Other meats or vegetables are then added to the pan. Try adding fresh green beans to the pan after the seeds have roasted.
9. Shrimp. 4 ounces of shrimp contain .3 grams of omega-3s, or 12% of the daily recommended value. Enjoy shrimp boiled or baked.
Bonus suggestion: take supplements. Taking omega-3 supplements is always an option as well. For example, 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil delivers 100% of the daily recommended dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Always check with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
- Read more about Alternative Treatments for Arthritis
Just like medications, not all foods will work for all people.
- "Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Food Chart." The World's Healthiest Foods. www.whfoods.com.
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- Curtis CL, Rees SG, Little CB, et al. Pathological indicators of degradation and inflammation in human osteoarthritic cartilage are abrogated by exposure to n-3 fatty acids. Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Jun;466):1544-53.
- Berbert AA, Kondo CR, Alemendra CL, Matsuo T, Dichi I. Supplementation of fish oil and olive oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Nutrition. 2005 Feb;21(2):131-6.
- Fortin PR, Lew RA, Liang MH, et al. Validation of a meta-analysis: the effects of fish oil in rheumatoid arthritis. J Clin Epidemiol. 1995 Nov;48(11):1379-90.