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The Most Crucial Eating Habit for Arthritis

More than 58 million Americans suffer from arthritis. If you're one of them, good eating habits may help.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

If you experience inflammation in your joints that causes pain and stiffness, you may be one of the 58.5 million people in the United States who suffer from arthritis. Arthritis can worsen with age, and there is no cure for it. However, there are ways to help relieve some of the symptoms or help slow it down. These include lifestyle changes, which can start with being mindful about the foods you eat.

Certain foods have been shown to alleviate some of the discomfort and pain associated with arthritis, thanks to the important vitamins and minerals they provide. You might also consider incorporating more healthy eating habits into your daily routine in general, which will help ensure you're maximizing the benefits of the nutrients you get from food. That being said, according to Sydney Greene, MS, RDN, the most crucial eating habit for arthritis is getting enough green vegetables every day.

"Eating plenty of green vegetables is important if you want to fight inflammation and support your joints," says Greene. "Leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus—they are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that help to block cells from damage."

The Arthritis Foundation also states that green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and others may protect cells from free-radical damage. This is due to the vegetables' high antioxidant count, which is full of vitamins A, C, and K.

The findings of a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine suggest that antioxidants may help improve disease activity significantly. The study further determined that antioxidants may be useful for helping to manage oxidative stress in rheumatoid arthritis.

leafy greens
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Meanwhile, in a study published by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, it was determined that a diet rich in dark, leafy green vegetables may help to increase beta-carotene—a pigment that converts into vitamin A. It may also help decrease C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein that, when elevated, can be a sign of acute inflammation, meaning it can potentially reduce the risk or severity of chronic diseases that involve inflammation.

The researchers suggested that this experimental diet should be called the Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (LIFE) diet. The foods in the diet included spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and bok choy.

So, if you have arthritis, try adding more leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables into your diet. These foods can help reduce the inflammation that causes painful symptoms and improve your overall bodily health at the same time, so it's a win-win.

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano is a Staff Writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla