The 10 Best Foods to Eat If You Have Arthritis

The 10 Best Foods to Eat If You Have Arthritis

A bowl of berries.

Arthritis is a term for a class of diseases that cause pain, swelling, and joint stiffness. It can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnic backgrounds.

There are many types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one type that develops in joints with overuse. Another type is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your joints (1, 2).

Fortunately, many foods can ease inflammation and may help relieve some of the joint pain associated with arthritis.

One survey found that 24% of those with RA reported that their diet impacted the severity of their symptoms (3).

This article will look at 10 of the best foods to eat if you have arthritis.

Fatty fish varieties such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects.

In one study of 176 people, those who ate fish two or more times a week showed a significantly lower disease activity score than those who ate less than 1 serving of fish a month (4).

Multiple studies have found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help decrease joint pain intensity, morning stiffness, and the number of painful joints (5).

Studies also show that eating fish and vegetables regularly correlates with lower RA activity (6, 7).

Fish is also a good source of vitamin D, which can help prevent deficiency. Multiple studies have found that RA may be associated with low vitamin D levels, contributing to symptoms (8, 9).

The Arthritis Foundation recommends including a 3–6-ounce serving of fish two to four times a week to take advantage of the beneficial anti-inflammatory properties (10).


Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which may be beneficial for reducing inflammation and the severity of arthritis symptoms.

Garlic is packed with health benefits.

Supplementing with garlic has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect that may help decrease symptoms of arthritis.

One study in 70 females with active RA found that those who took a 1,000 milligram (mg) dose of a garlic supplement for 8 weeks saw blood markers for the disease decrease. They also experienced a decrease in joint pain and their disease activity score (11).

In other research, researchers found that taking 1,000 mg of garlic in tablet form daily can help relieve the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and reduce pain and inflammation (12).

Adding whole garlic to your diet may also benefit arthritis symptoms, but there is less research on the effectiveness of eating garlic than taking garlic supplements.


Studies have found garlic supplements may possess anti-inflammatory properties and help relieve pain, stiffness, and inflammatory markers from arthritis.

Besides adding a burst of flavor to teas, soups, and sweets, ginger may also help ease the symptoms of arthritis.

However, like with garlic, there is less evidence of the benefit of ginger for arthritis symptoms compared to ginger supplements.

Many research studies have investigated the effect of ginger on osteoarthritis, finding that supplementing with ginger reduced inflammation and pain among the subjects who took the supplements (13).

The thought is that ginger inhibits certain proteins that can trigger the immune system to react in inflammatory diseases, such as RA (13, 14).


Ginger supplements have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation symptoms from osteoarthritis or RA.

It’s no secret that cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are one of the healthiest foods. It may even be associated with reduced inflammation.

One study that looked at the diets of 1,005 females found that the intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli was associated with decreased levels of inflammatory markers (15).

The benefit may be down to the natural components of these vegetables, known as glucosinolates, which can have an anti-inflammatory effect.

In one study, researchers found that giving mice one type of glucosinolate known as sulforaphane helped improve their bone strength and reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis-related gait (16).

However, in this study, the sulforaphane used was synthetic and not derived from broccoli. More research is needed to determine how sulforaphane in broccoli may help with inflammation.


Broccoli has been associated with reduced inflammation. It contains sulforaphane, which may have anti-inflammatory properties, according to studies. More research is needed to look at the effects of broccoli in humans.

Walnuts are nutrient-dense and loaded with compounds that may help reduce the inflammation associated with joint disease.

Some research suggests that eating walnuts may be associated with reduced markers of inflammation (17).

Interestingly, one study involving 5,013 people also found that more frequent consumption of nuts, including walnuts, was associated with reduced markers of inflammation (18).

Walnuts are also particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in plant foods (19).

While omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of arthritis, most of the available research has focused on the effects of other types of omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20).

Therefore, more studies are needed to understand the potential effects of walnuts.


Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which could alleviate arthritis symptoms as well as inflammation. However, more research is needed.

Tons of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are crammed into each serving of berries, which may partially account for their unique ability to decrease inflammation.

According to one small study, consuming 40 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder per day for 4 months improved pain, stiffness, and gait performance in 79 people with knee osteoarthritis, compared to a placebo (21).

Similarly, another small study in people with knee osteoarthritis and obesity showed that consuming 50 grams of a freeze-dried strawberry beverage decreased markers of inflammation and reduced pain and cartilage degradation over 26 weeks (22).

Strawberries have also been shown to reduce markers of inflammation, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, in adults with knee osteoarthritis (23).

If you want to take advantage of these impressive health benefits, there’s a wide variety of berries. Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are just a few options that satisfy your sweet tooth and provide plenty of arthritis-fighting nutrients.


Berries contain antioxidants and have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of arthritis in some studies.

Leafy greens like spinach are full of nutrients, and some of their components may be able to help decrease inflammation caused by arthritis.

Several studies have found that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is linked to lower levels of inflammation (24, 25).

Spinach, in particular, contains plenty of antioxidants and plant compounds that can relieve inflammation and help fight disease (26).

Spinach is especially high in the antioxidant kaempferol, which has been shown to decrease the effects of the inflammatory agents associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in animal studies (27, 28).

Moreover, one survey of 217 people found that blueberries and spinach were the foods most often reported to improve symptoms of RA (3).

However, more research is needed to study the effects of spinach and its components on humans with arthritis.


Spinach is rich in antioxidants, including kaempferol. Test-tube studies have found that kaempferol can reduce inflammation. Meanwhile, other research suggests that spinach is often reported to improve symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Grapes are nutrient-dense, high in antioxidants, and possess anti-inflammatory properties.

One review of 24 studies concluded that grape products could significantly reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker used to measure inflammation (29).

Additionally, grapes contain several compounds that have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis, including resveratrol, an antioxidant in the skin of grapes.

One study in 110 people with knee osteoarthritis found that taking a 500 mg resveratrol supplement alongside meloxicam, a medication used to treat osteoarthritis, for 3 months could reduce pain severity compared to meloxicam alone (30).

While more research in humans is needed, several animal studies have also shown that certain compounds found in grapes could reduce inflammation and slow the progression of certain types of arthritis (31, 32, 33).

Remember, these animal studies use concentrated doses of antioxidants far greater than the amount you consume in a typical serving of grapes.

Therefore, more research is needed to determine how these results may translate to humans.


Grapes have anti-inflammatory properties and contain compounds that may help reduce inflammation. However, additional studies with humans are needed.

Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, olive oil may have a favorable effect on arthritis symptoms.

In addition to reducing inflammation, some research suggests that certain compounds found in olive oil could promote autophagy, a process that helps clear out damaged cells from the body, which could be beneficial for arthritis (34).

In one study, mice were fed extra-virgin olive oil for 6 weeks. This helped stop the development of arthritis, reduce joint swelling, slow cartilage destruction, and decrease inflammation (35).

A test-tube study also found that compounds extracted from olive oil could decrease the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the joints, which may aid in managing RA (36).

Furthermore, diet patterns rich in olive oil, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been shown to reduce pain and improve physical function for people with rheumatoid arthritis (37).

Although more research is needed on the effects of olive oil on arthritis, adding olive oil and other healthy fats to your diet can benefit your health and may reduce arthritis symptoms.


Olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote autophagy. Diet patterns rich in olive oil, such as the Mediterranean diet, may help reduce symptoms of RA.

Tart cherry juice is an increasingly popular beverage derived from the fruit of the Prunus cerasus tree.

This potent juice offers a wide array of nutrients and health benefits and may even help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

One study in 57 people with knee osteoarthritis found that consuming tart cherry juice daily for 120 days improved mobility, pain, and quality of life (38).

Another 4-week study showed that tart cherry juice significantly reduced CRP and uric acid levels — a compound that may be linked to osteoarthritis — by 19.4% and 19.2%, respectively (39).

Plus, it may also have anti-inflammatory properties. One animal study found that tart cherry helped protect against bone loss caused by inflammation in mice (40).

Be sure to look for an unsweetened variety of tart cherry juice to ensure you don’t consume excess added sugar.

In combination with a healthy diet and other arthritis-fighting foods, a serving of unsweetened tart cherry juice per day may help decrease some of the symptoms of arthritis.


Studies show that tart cherry juice could lower inflammation and alleviate some symptoms of arthritis.

Diet can play a major role in arthritis severity and symptoms.

Luckily, various foods with powerful components may relieve inflammation and arthritis while promoting overall health.

Along with conventional treatments, eating a nutritious diet containing healthy fats, a few servings of fatty fish, and plenty of produce may help reduce some symptoms of arthritis.