Best Fruits for Arthritis
Get tips for choosing the best anti-inflammatory fruits for arthritis
Fruits are naturally sweet, and many offer a substantial dose of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Some have components that may help lower inflammation associated with arthritis and other serious conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.
All fruits have health benefits, but some have more disease-fighting properties than others. Berries, for example are among some of the best fruits for arthritis. They are loaded with antioxidants, such ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C) and anthocyanins and carotenoids, which give berries their deep color. These compounds also help rid the body of free radicals that promote inflammation and help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.
Whatever your favorite fruit, try to choose seasonal, locally grown produce says Mitzi Dulan, a Kansas City-based dietitian and team sports nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals. Aim for five or more servings a day of fruit to your diet, which can help manage weight since most are low in calories.
The fruits below boast some of the best benefits for people with arthritis and related conditions.
Tart cherries get their dark red color and many of their powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits from the flavonoid anthocyanin. Some researchers compare the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Studies, which often use the concentrated juice of Montmorency cherries, have found tart cherries may relieve joint pain in people with osteoarthritis (OA) and lower the risk of flares in those with gout. In addition, recent studies suggest tart cherries may improve the quality and duration of sleep.
Strawberries are naturally low in sugar and have more vitamin C per serving than an orange. Vitamin C can lower risk for gout, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. Research has also shown that women who ate 16 or more strawberries a week had lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of body-wide inflammation linked to arthritis flares and heart disease.
As with cherries, scientists suspect it is anthocyanin, along with other phytochemicals, that gives strawberries their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits. Strawberries are also a good source of folic acid, which the arthritis medication methotrexate can deplete. People taking methotrexate often need folic acid supplements to help prevent side effects, but eating strawberries is still beneficial.
Like strawberries, these berries are among the highest in vitamin C and anthocyanin. Animal studies have shown extracts from the fruit reduce inflammation and OA symptoms. Other research shows that the fruit’s bioactive compounds lower system-wide inflammation and, when a regular part of the diet, help prevent numerous chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes.
The rich, creamy texture of this fruit comes in part from its high concentration of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat. Avocados are also rich in the carotenoid lutein. Unlike most fruits, avocados are a good source of vitamin E, a micronutrient with anti-inflammatory effects. Diets high in these compounds are linked to decreased risk of the joint damage seen in early OA.
Studies also show eating avocados daily increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol. Despite the fruit’s relatively high calorie content, research has found that regular avocado eaters tend to weigh less and have smaller waists. Their high fiber and fat content may help people control cravings, Dulan says.
Studies show that eating watermelon reduces the inflammatory marker CRP. It’s also high in the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, which can reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It’s also packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect against certain cancers and lower heart attack risk, says Dulan. One cup has about 40 percent more lycopene than raw tomatoes, the next richest raw food source. Watermelon is also ninety-two percent water, which makes it great for hydration and weight management. One cup of watermelon has about 40 calories – plus about a third of your recommended daily allowance of vitamins A and C.
Both white and darker-colored varieties of grapes are a great source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. “Fresh red and black grapes also contain resveratrol, the heart-healthy compound found in red wine that contributes to cardiovascular health by improving the function of blood vessels,” says Dulan.
Resveratrol is also a potent anti-inflammatory. Studies show this bioactive compound acts on the same cellular targets as NSAIDs. Researchers are studying its potential for improving symptoms of OA, as well as for other chronic diseases linked to aging.
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