Rheumatoid arthritis: Five foods you should eat to fight flare-ups


Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the hands, feet and wrists, and sufferers can often experience flare-ups of the condition during certain periods.

“Although there are no specific nutrition guidelines for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers have found a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals supplies the body with powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients,” said the Arthritis Foundation.

Many of these are found in the so-called Mediterranean diet, and include the following five foods:


Certain types of fish are rich in inflammation-fighting omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 – two inflammatory proteins in your body.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the best sources come from salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and other cold water fish.

You should eat at least three to four ounces, twice a week.

Fruit and veg

Fruit and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which support the immune system, and may help fight inflammation.

The best sources come from “colourful foods” such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, spinach, kale and broccoli.

Woman with arthritis gardening, olive oil

There are five foods you can eat to ease inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis (Image: Getty Images)

You should eat at least 1.5 to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per meal.

Onions, which are packed with antioxidants, may also reduce inflammation.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts are full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, protein and fibre.

The best sources come from walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds. You should eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily, which is about a handful.


Beans have several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. They’re a low-cost source of fibre, protein, folic acid and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium.

The best sources come from pinto, black, red kidney and garbanzo beans. You should eat at least one cup of beans, twice a week.

Fish, vegetables and Mediterranean ingredients

These foods could improve pain, stiffness and physical function caused by rheumatoid arthritis (Image: Getty Images)

Woman with arthritis trying to open jar

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the hands, feet and wrists (Image: Getty Images)

Olive oil

Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain.

The best sources come from extra virgin olive oil, which is less refined and processed, and retains more nutrients than standard varieties.

You should consume two to three tablespoons per day in cooking or in salad dressings or other dishes.

“This diet has been analysed in small studies for its impact on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Results showed improvements in pain, morning stiffness, disease activity and physical function,” said the Arthritis Foundation.


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