Move over, apples, it’s time to start sharing the spotlight.
We’ve all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but more and more research is showing health benefits of a variety of other foods too. Especially when it comes to osteoarthritis.
As the approximately 27 million Americans who suffer from it can attest, it often begins slowly with stiffness and soreness that is uncomfortable but not seemingly serious. Some lucky people stay at this level while others have it grow increasingly painful and debilitating to the point simple tasks like walking and sleeping are difficult. It can affect a variety of joints but the knees, back and hips are frequent victims.
A number of factors can cause it ranging from being overweight and/or older to overusing the joint or having a previous injury to simply being unlucky genetically-speaking. While there is no cure, maintaining a proper weight and staying active are key—as well as eating nutritious foods.
Inflammation in particular is a big enemy when it comes to keeping osteoarthritis at bay as it creates free radicals which can damage the cushions between joints (as well as various other body tissues).
Foods that can help fight against inflammation are some of the following:
- Antioxidants—Antioxidants are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables including strawberries, apples, onions, kale and blueberries among others. Green tea and cocoa powder contain them as well.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids—This nutritional powerhouse is common in fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines so aim for at least two 3-ounce servings a week. Walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs are other options.
- Olive Oil—Olive oil contains the compound oleocanthal which acts similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Next time instead of popping a 200 mg pill, try 3-and-a-half tablespoons of olive oil instead. (When possible use it instead of butter and other fats as olive oil is relatively high in calories.)
- Spices—Spices especially turmeric and ginger also seem to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Getting enough of certain vitamins is also critical. For example:
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C can be found in everything from oranges, strawberries and kiwi to tomatoes and bell peppers to broccoli and kale and is important in maintaining cartilage health.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D may also help keep cartilage healthy so eat fortified milk and eggs, wild-caught salmon and shrimp and various Vitamin D and calcium-fortified foods like cereal and orange juice.
Finally, it’s important to avoid a few things too. Saturated and trans fats, excess salt and sugar should all be consumed in moderation if at all. Also, watch out for AGEs or advanced glycation end products which can end up in foods that are cooked at high temperatures and lead to inflammation. Examples include fried, grilled and broiled meats as well as some processed foods.
So go ahead and eat those apples…but make sure to add some of these other powerhouses to the plate as well.
by Kristen Stewart
Kristen is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at www.kristenestewart.com.