Nearly 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of arthritis; a condition characterized by inflammation and impaired function in certain areas of the body. More than half of arthritis sufferers have osteoarthritis ─ the most common form ─ which attacks bones, cartilage, and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the synovial lining in joints, resulting in pain, inflammation, stiffness, and reduced function. While there are a variety of pharmaceuticals for treating arthritis, recent studies show that certain foods may help alleviate symptoms. Antioxidant-rich fruits in particular make a healthy addition to an arthritis diet.
Studies show that daily consumption of apples may reduce levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, a key marker for inflammation. In a study of 160 women from 45 to 65 years of age, half of the subjects ate dried apples daily for one year, and the other half ate prunes, with each daily serving totaling 240 calories. After six months, those who ate apples experienced a reduction in CRP of 32 percent.
Colorful berries like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries offer abundant amounts of antioxidants like proanthocyanidins and ellagic acid, both of which help prevent inflammation and cell damage. Because types and levels of antioxidants vary by the berry, adding a variety makes good sense.
Cherries, particularly tart forms, contain high levels of anthocyanins, which may explain why many experts suggest adding them to an arthritis diet. Research from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center examined 53 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Those who consumed two 8-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice each day showed less pain and stiffness and better physical function after six weeks.
Citrus fruits like grapefruit offer a rich supply of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that may help relieve inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that vitamin C may also help prevent the development of inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis affecting more than one type of joint. In addition, vitamin C plays a key role in the production of collagen, the main protein in bone and joint tissue, and it offers infection-fighting properties. This is important because some experts believe infections trigger rheumatoid arthritis flare ups.
Guava contains rich sources of vitamin C and iron. Since both are proven to guard against viral infections, guava may be helpful to people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Mango is packed with vitamin C, beta carotene, and vitamin E, three powerful antioxidants that may help relieve various symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Research has shown that certain antioxidants like Beta-cryptoxanthin may help relieve symptoms and slow progression of arthritis. Watermelon is a rich source of this antioxidant, and it contains zinc and selenium, minerals which contain anti-inflammatory properties.