Best Foods to Eat If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis, According to Researchers

Like so many other maladies out there, rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t have a cure. There is, however, a way to make the inflammation and pain in your body less unbearable. Behold, the “RA diet” — a list of foods that fight inflammation in the body, thus combating the debilitating symptoms of RA. Read on to see what these miracle foods are. (The food on page 11 may surprise you.)

1. Fish

Grilled Salmon

Salmon’s packed with omega-3s that can help reduce inflammation.| Gbh007/iStock/Getty Images

One factor that ties a lot of the foods on this list together is that they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the body. And certain kinds of fish, like salmon and albacore tuna — just to name a couple — are packed with omega-3s. Arthritis Foundation recommends eating at least three ounces of these fishes a week to battle inflammation.

Next: Our daily bread …

2. Whole grains

whole-grain bread slices with blades of wheat

Whole grains also have anti-inflammatory properties. | iStock.com

You may not have realized your bread and pasta choices have an effect on your rheumatoid arthritis. Whole grains, on one hand, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the symptoms of RA. Refined grains like white pasta — where the nutrients are stripped from the grain — can actually make inflammation worse. Sticking to whole wheat pasta and brown rice is the way to go to ease RA symptoms.

Next: This small food packs a big punch …

3. Cherries

Cherries

This fruit is full of antioxidants that can help your arthritis. | Timmary/iStock/Getty Images

WebMD tells us this bite-sized fruit, along with other red and purple fruits, gets its signature color from chemicals called anthocyanins.  But this chemical is also a powerful antioxidant which can help fight the pain and swelling brought on by RA, as well as keep gout attacks from occurring.

Next: Might as well drizzle this food on everything …

4. Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra-virgin olive oil contains the most nutrients of any type of olive oil. | Dulezidar/iStock/Getty Images

Extra-virgin olive oil has loads of health benefits, including the ability to lower cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. (Since the “extra-virgin” variety comes from the first pressing of the olives, it contains the most nutrients of any kind of olive oil.) But it also contains a chemical that keeps inflammation from occurring in the first place.

Next: A good pick for all seasons …

5. Avocado

Avocado toast

If you can’t get them fresh, avocado oil will do the trick. | Arx0nt/iStock/Getty Images

Like with olive oil and fish, avocado is packed with omega-3s which help keep inflammation down. (And if you add some sliced avo to whole wheat toast, you get a popular meal that fights inflammation double time!) But if you’re worried about finding this popular fruit when it’s out of season, you’re in luck. Avocado oil can be bought year round and can be used in place of olive oil for cooking and being added to your favorite meals.

Next: Pucker up …

6. Citrus

Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits and mandarins

It doesn’t just look beautiful — it’s also excellent for you. | Voloshin311/iStock/Getty Images

Grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes are more than just basic food staples. They’re all packed full of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system — therefore helping keep inflammation down. Plus, having enough vitamin C in your diet can go a long way to help improve the overall health of your joints.

Next: Bet you didn’t know this legume was so good for you …

7. Beans

Dried red beans on wooden table

These red beans are better for you than you think. | Piyaset/iStock/Getty Images

We aren’t talking about the fatty refried beans you get with your enchiladas. We mean red beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans, which are packed with vitamins that help beef up your immune system. They also contain fiber, which helps keep you full and lowers CRP in the blood which causes inflammation.

Next: A snack staple with health benefits …

8. Nuts

Peanut butter jar and heap of nuts

Nuts are full of nutritious fats. | Julia_Sudnitskaya/Getty Images

If you aren’t a fan of fish, nuts are a good substitute. They’re full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids so you can reap the anti-inflammatory benefits and keep your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms at bay without having to go overboard eating salmon. Go for raw and unsalted varieties of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, all of which make a great mid-afternoon snack.

Next: One of the healthiest foods around …

9. Broccoli

Broccoli in pan on wood kitchen table

Broccoli might be one of the best vegetables for you. | phasinphoto/iStock.com/Getty Images

If you’re someone who has stuck their nose up at broccoli since they were a kid, maybe this veggie’s health benefits will help you change your mind. As WebMD summarizes, broccoli contains calcium which improves bone health — an upside when you’re looking to combat joint pain. Broccoli also contains vitamins A, C, and K, which help protect the body from being harmed by free radicals.

Next: Spice is nice …

10. Ginger

Ginger root

Ginger can fight many symptoms of RA. | Tom Merton/Getty Images

Health Central tells us there’s a selection of spices that have been proven to simmer rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Ginger — which can be easily added to many different recipes — has also been shown to fight against extra-articular effects of RA, in which arthritis hurts other parts of the body.

Next: A surprisingly great food for battling RA symptoms …

11. Green tea

Green tea pouring out of a teapot

Green tea is packed with antioxidants. | Shaiith/iStock/Getty Images

It may surprise you, but green tea is one of the best things you can have in your diet to fight off symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation tells us this sip is packed with a variety of antioxidants which are “believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction.” One antioxidant, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), has shown in studies to stop the production of harmful molecules that aid in joint damage.

Next: More spice …

12. Turmeric

Turmeric on a table with a spoon

Here’s another spice to always have on hand. | iStock.com

This has become the spice of the moment, and it seems like everyone has hopped on the turmeric bandwagon because of its plethora of health benefits. Like ginger, turmeric contains components that are believed to help stop extra-articular effects of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as help reduce inflammation.

Next: A cooking essential …

13. Canola oil

Bottles of oil

You might be surprised by this helpful oil. | iStock.com/alenkadr

Olive oil may be the heavy favorite, but canola oil also has the ability to help reduce RA symptoms. Everyday Health explains that canola oil has “a healthy profile and a higher smoke point” which makes it an all-purpose cooking oil that you can easily integrate into your diet. (And since it has an almost unnoticeable flavor, it can be used in preparing many different types of dishes.)

Next: We’re still learning all the things this food can do for RA …

14. Pomegranate

pomegranate

Recent studies prove pomegranate is a promising fruit. | iStock.com

This one is a bit of a question mark, and more research has to be done to determine exactly how effective pomegranate is on rheumatoid arthritis. However, recent studies have suggested that pomegranates and pomegranate extract may reduce inflammation and decrease joint pain, Mercola says.

Next: Last but not least …

15. Soy

Cubed tofu in a bowl

This one’s controversial, but it might be worth a try. | iStock.com

Soy is heavily debated food — some people think it’s essential while others avoid it like the plague. As far as RA is concerned, soybeans and tofu can serve as a substitute for fish because they are packed with protein and the omega-3s needed to keep inflammation down and RA symptoms at bay.

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