You probably already know that foods like salmon, sardines, and sesame seeds – all rich in omega 3 fatty acids – can make a significant difference in your joint comfort. But these seven joint-friendly foods may just take you by surprise.
1. Broccoli contains a phytochemical called sulforaphane that has been shown in lab and animal studies to protect cartilage from destruction, even in cases of osteoarthritis. This plant chemical works by inhibiting certain enzymes (metalloproteinases) linked to osteoarthritis. Sulforaphane also helps block NF-κβ (nuclear factor-kappa beta), a protein that triggers inflammation, to directly protect against cartilage destruction.
2. Delicious sweet Bing cherries have been shown in several studies to lower inflammation markers like C-reactive protein (CRP, an indicator of systemic inflammation) for people with chronic inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis.
3. Chocolate possesses many health benefits, including an anti-inflammatory effect. Packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, cocoa decreases NF-κβ activity and lowers CRP, indicating strong anti-inflammatory powers.
4. Ruby-red pomegranate naturally contains highly potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds – so strong, in fact, that pomegranate extract has been shown to alleviate symptoms in patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, a 2016 study found that pomegranate juice improved physical function and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
5. Sweet potatoes, both the traditional orange and the surprising purple varieties, contain a multitude of beneficial phytochemicals, antioxidants, and nutrients. Their high levels of anthocyanins – the plant chemicals responsible for their brilliant coloring – work a second job as anti-inflammatory agents. In lab and animal studies, sweet potatoes have been found to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines including NF-κβ and TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a protein involved in systemic inflammation).
6. You know an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but you may be surprised to learn that apples contain several inflammation-fighting nutrients and phytochemicals. Apples are especially rich in polyphenols that tame pro-inflammatory genes and enzymes.
7. Raspberries are jam-packed with nutrients and phytochemicals, including the powerful anthocyanins that provide their rich red color. These tiny berries pack a powerful anti-arthritis punch by protecting vulnerable cartilage and reducing inflammation. In fact, animal studies indicate that raspberries may even help slow the onset and reduce the severity of arthritis.