Recommended Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis (2022)

Research shows that what you eat can affect rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. Recommendations center around choosing more anti-inflammatory foods.

A good example of this way of eating is a Mediterranean diet which is rich in vegetables, fish, and healthy fats like walnuts and olives. Here are some suggestions on how to plan a nutritious plate to keep RA under control.

Recommended Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis (1)

Fatty Fish

Cold-water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and make an excellent source of protein. Unlike red meat, choosing fish for your protein source helps reduce your intake of saturated fats. Fish are a heart-healthy choice, which is crucial for individuals with RA who are known to be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

Examples of beneficial fish for a rheumatoid arthritis diet include:

  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna

Choose grilled or baked fish, rather than fried fish, to get the most nutrition from your dish while avoiding inflammatory ingredients (like deep-frying oil and white flour).

Vegetarian Alternatives to Fish

If you don't eat seafood, chia seeds and ground flaxseeds are another way to get omega-3 fatty acids. Tofu is a complete protein that's heart-healthy and free of saturated fat.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a nutritious part of any dietary plan, and eating well for rheumatoid arthritis is no exception. Choosing a colorful variety of produce will provide your body with antioxidants and fiber.

Bulk up savory dishes with exciting vegetable choices. The natural sweetness in fruit is a healthy substitute for more concentrated high-sugar desserts.

Here are practical ways to add more fruits and veggies to your day:

  • Add a side salad to fill half your plate with fresh vegetables
  • Choose a piece of fruit for a snack
  • Flavor casseroles with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spinach
  • Instead of a pepperoni pizza, choose a veggie lovers version
  • Make chocolate-covered strawberries or orange slices for dessert
  • Roast up some kale "chips," bell pepper slices, or broccoli with a dash of olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Sautee chopped vegetables to add to a morning omelet
  • Top oatmeal or cereal with fresh berries
  • Try a green smoothie using frozen greens and your favorite fruits

Frozen vegetables and fruits are just as nutritious as fresh. If you have trouble with fresh fruits and veggies going bad in the fridge, stock up on the frozen versions instead.

(Video) Rheumatoid Arthritis - Lifestyle Options | Johns Hopkins

Beneficial plant compounds in fruits and vegetables, called polyphenols, can help reduce your levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which is a known marker of inflammation.

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Recommended Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis (2)

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Whole Grains

Whole grains are a good way to get more fiber in your diet and give your body lasting energy for physical activity. Aim to fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains like:

  • Amaranth
  • Bulgar
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta

Cereals, sliced bread, and crackers are often labeled as whole-grain products. While these may be healthier than their refined counterparts, choosing less processed grains that you cook up yourself will provide maximum nutrition and help you avoid hidden sugars and preservatives.

Popcorn is a healthy whole-grain snack, especially if you avoid adding too much butter or salt. Try making it yourself on the stovetop and season it with your favorite spices like garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and black pepper.

If you're sensitive to gluten, be mindful of your grain choices. Brown rice is a healthy and inexpensive gluten-free grain that you can serve as a side dish or use as an ingredient for soups and stews.

Legumes

Beans, peas, and lentils provide a natural combination of fiber, protein, and starch. RA can increase your rate of muscle loss, so having a variety of animal-based and vegetarian protein foods will help you stay strong.

(Video) Mayo Clinic Minute: Fighting arthritis with food

Legumes are a versatile food group that's easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes. A warm bowl of lentil or pea soup is the perfect comfort food on a chilly afternoon. For a Mexican-style dish, add black beans to a salad or burrito. Roast up some chickpeas as a crunchy snack, or enjoy them pureed in hummus dip. There are endless ways to put more legumes on your plate.

Canned beans are a convenient pantry staple, but they can be high in sodium. Rinse canned beans under cool running water to wash away excess sodium. Frozen peas and beans are typically sodium-free, but double-check the ingredients list on the food label to be sure.

Seasoning With Turmeric

Seasoning your bean dishes with turmeric provides a natural anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Several studies support the use of turmeric extract to reduce arthritis symptoms.

Nuts

Nuts are beneficial for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis for several reasons. Nuts are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, along with other polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Different types of nuts provide an array of minerals and vitamins, including magnesium and vitamin E, which support heart health.

For people with RA and prediabetes or diabetes, nuts help keep blood sugars stable reducing the inflammatory effects of elevated glucose levels. Try to enjoy nuts in their natural state for maximum nutrition, and watch out for added salt and sugar. Although nuts are a healthy snack, their calories can add up quickly. Keep in mind that one portion of nuts is just a quarter-cup.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and can be helpful for individuals with RA. For cooking, regular olive oil is fine. If you want to make a heart-healthy salad dressing, cold-pressed olive oil is high in antioxidants and aromatic flavor.

Although olive oil has gained a glowing reputation as a superfood ingredient, keep in mind that it's still a concentrated source of fat and calories. Using olive oil to replace solid fats in your diet (like butter or lard) is a wise choice, but drowning otherwise low-fat dishes in olive oil is not.

Another way to reap the benefits of olive oil is by eating whole olives. Add olives to pizza, salads, and appetizers. It doesn't take a lot of olives to bring a distinctive taste to your favorite dishes.

Balancing Your Fatty Acid Intake

Opting for a more Mediterranean-style diet can help you achieve a better ratio of fatty acids. The standard American diet has up to 25 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, which may promote inflammation.

Including more fish, nuts, olives, and olive oil (instead of meat, corn oil, and processed foods) will help you get a healthier balance of more omega 3s and fewer omega 6s.

(Video) Eat These 8 Foods To Help Beat RA Inflammation

A Word From Verywell

Healthy eating can support your management of rheumatoid arthritis, but it isn't the only factor at play. Your medications, stress level, physical activity, and general health will also impact how you feel. With your healthcare provider's guidance, design a lifestyle that supports your health and well-being when living with RA.

Considering Intermittent Fasting for RA? Here’s What to Know

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(Video) Diet for RA/Arthritis (includes tips for vegetarians)

5 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Arthritis Foundation. Foods that can help with RA symptoms.

  2. Daily JW, Yang M, Park S. Efficacy of turmeric extracts and curcumin for alleviating the symptoms of joint arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.J Med Food. 19(8):717-729. doi:10.1089/jmf.2016.3705

  3. Arthritis Foundation. Best nuts and seeds for arthritis.

  4. Urology of Virginia. Rheumatoid arthritis diet: What to eat if you have RA.

  5. Mount Sinai. Omega-6 fatty acids.

    (Video) Arthritis Advice: Nutrition part 1 - What to eat

FAQs

Recommended Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis? ›

This diet includes poultry, fish, and small quantities of lean red meat as well as plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit (fresh, frozen or canned), plenty of olive oil, wholegrain cereals, peas, beans, nuts and seeds. This means saturated fats are reduced and replaced by unsaturated fats including omega-3 fats.

What foods to avoid if you have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Foods You Should Avoid with Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Grilled, broiled, or fried meats (and other fried foods). ...
  • Fatty foods full of omega-6 fatty acids. ...
  • Sugars and refined carbohydrates. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Preservatives and flavor enhancers. ...
  • Alcohol.
Sep 26, 2018

Which foods make rheumatoid arthritis worse? ›

Here are some foods to think twice about, because they contribute extra calories and provoke inflammation that worsens your RA symptoms.
  • Red Meat. ...
  • Sugar and Refined Flour. ...
  • Fried Foods. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Processed Foods.
Feb 27, 2021

What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

Strawberries top the list, followed by spinach. (The full 2019 Dirty Dozen list, ranked from most contaminated to least, include strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.)

Is banana good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Bananas: This humble fruit can be very helpful for those dealing with arthritis. A banana is a powerhouse of potassium that plays an important role in reducing sodium retention and the calcification process of bones which accelerate bone loss. Bananas can help alleviate cartilage damage of the joints.

Which fruit is good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Watermelon. This large, juicy fruit contains carotenoid antioxidants including lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin, which may reduce RA symptoms. Watermelon also has vitamins A and C and is full of water, which will help you stay hydrated in those hot summer months.

What triggers rheumatoid arthritis flare ups? ›

RA flare-ups are caused by one or more triggers, including diet, stress, illness, weather changes, smoking, and overexertion. The most common signs of RA are joint pain and swelling, fatigue, and joint stiffness, especially in the morning and after sitting for long periods.

What are three meals we take daily? ›

3 main meals of the day
  • Breakfast – eaten within an hour or two after a person wakes in the morning. (Index) ...
  • Lunch – eaten around mid-day, usually between 11 am and 3 pm. In some areas, the name for this meal depends on its content. ...
  • Dinner – eaten in the evening.

What is the unhealthiest meat? ›

Lamb typically has more saturated fat — which can raise your levels of bad cholesterol, putting you at higher risk of cardiovascular disease — than beef or pork. T-bones, rib-eye and New York strip steak tend to be fattier forms of beef when compared to ground rounds, sirloin or flank steak.

What should you not do if you have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

  1. Not Seeing a Rheumatologist. Your regular doctor may have diagnosed your RA. ...
  2. Too Much Couch Time. You need rest, just not too much. ...
  3. Canceling Doctor Appointments. When you feel good, do you stop seeing your doctor? ...
  4. Not Taking All Your Medications. ...
  5. Skipping Medication When You Feel Good. ...
  6. Overlooking Your Mood.
Jan 20, 2022

Is cheese good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Myth: Dairy Makes RA Worse

You don't have to cut milk, cheese, or yogurt from your diet. There's not much evidence that your joints will feel better if you skip those foods. And keep in mind that some RA meds put you at greater risk for osteoporosis, so you don't want to miss out on dairy's bone-building benefits.

What drinks are good for arthritis? ›

Best Drinks for Arthritis
  • Tea. Tea is one of the most-studied drinks when it comes to its benefits for arthritis patients. ...
  • Coffee. Research shows coffee also has antioxidant polyphenols. ...
  • Milk. ...
  • Juices. ...
  • Smoothies. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Water.

What fruit is not good for arthritis? ›

Citrus fruits cause inflammation

Grapefruit juice can, however, interact with some medicines that doctors use to treat arthritis. People who are undergoing treatment should check with a doctor before incorporating it into their diet.

Is Egg good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Eggs and inflammation

On the contrary, eggs have been shown to contain compounds that may have anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, eating two eggs per week as a part of a well-balanced diet is recommended for most adults, including those with arthritis ( 9 ).

Is Potato good for arthritis? ›

Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are all members of the nightshade family. These vegetables contain the chemical solanine, which some people claim aggravates arthritis pain and inflammation.

Is chicken good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Lean protein is essential at every meal because it gives you energy to fuel your day. Examples of lean protein are boneless, skinless grilled chicken, fish, and nuts. Since fatigue is a common rheumatoid arthritis symptom, adding more protein to your diet is essential.

Does dairy make rheumatoid arthritis worse? ›

Eat and Drink Less Dairy on a Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may flare in response to specific proteins found in dairy products. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis who report intolerance to milk have antibodies to milk proteins, Dr. Michet says.

What is the fastest way to reduce joint inflammation? ›

Ginger has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen. Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains. Fruits, veggies and whole grains, as part of a healthy diet, fight inflammation naturally and can also help control your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight relieves stress on the joints.

How do you slow down rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) If you've been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you'll usually be offered a combination of DMARD tablets as part of your initial treatment. These medicines ease the symptoms of the condition and slow down its progression.

How can I reverse rheumatoid arthritis naturally? ›

Receiving massage regularly will help you send your arthritis into remission.
  1. Exercises and physical therapy. One of the main proven treatments to reverse rheumatoid arthritis is exercises and physical therapy. ...
  2. Probiotics to Reverse Rheumatoid Arthritis. ...
  3. Other Supplements and Magnesium Oil.
Mar 23, 2020

What is the difference between arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? ›

rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.

What triggers rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means it's caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. However, it's not yet known what triggers this. Your immune system normally makes antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses, helping to fight infection.

What triggers rheumatoid arthritis flare ups? ›

RA flare-ups are caused by one or more triggers, including diet, stress, illness, weather changes, smoking, and overexertion. The most common signs of RA are joint pain and swelling, fatigue, and joint stiffness, especially in the morning and after sitting for long periods.

Which fruit is good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Watermelon. This large, juicy fruit contains carotenoid antioxidants including lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin, which may reduce RA symptoms. Watermelon also has vitamins A and C and is full of water, which will help you stay hydrated in those hot summer months.

Are bananas good for RA? ›

Bananas are not a typical choice for people with arthritis, but the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in them may aid in protecting the body against certain oxidative stress.

How do you slow down rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) If you've been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you'll usually be offered a combination of DMARD tablets as part of your initial treatment. These medicines ease the symptoms of the condition and slow down its progression.

How can I reverse rheumatoid arthritis naturally? ›

Receiving massage regularly will help you send your arthritis into remission.
  1. Exercises and physical therapy. One of the main proven treatments to reverse rheumatoid arthritis is exercises and physical therapy. ...
  2. Probiotics to Reverse Rheumatoid Arthritis. ...
  3. Other Supplements and Magnesium Oil.
Mar 23, 2020

What is the new medicine for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Official answer. The newest drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are the Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, which are FDA approved under the brand names Rinvoq, Olumiant, and Xeljanz.

What is the difference between arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? ›

rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.

What are the 4 stages of rheumatoid arthritis? ›

The four stages of rheumatoid arthritis are known as synovitis, pannus, fibrous ankylosis, and bony ankylosis.
  • Stage I: Synovitis. During stage I, you may start having mild symptoms, including joint pain and joint stiffness. ...
  • Stage II: Pannus. ...
  • Stage III: Fibrous Ankylosis. ...
  • Stage IV: Bony Ankylosis.
Oct 12, 2021

What is the average life expectancy of someone with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

The average duration of disease were 10.5 years in male patients and 17.7 years in female. The average life span of the patients with RA, revealing 65.8 years in male and 63.7 years in female, were much shorter than of general population. The causes of all deaths were investigated by ourselves and/or autopsy.

Is Potato good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Myth: Avoid "Nightshade" Veggies

There's talk out there that tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and peppers can make your RA symptoms worse. Take this advice with a grain of salt. There's no hard evidence that foods from the nightshade family are a problem.

Is Egg good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Eggs and inflammation

On the contrary, eggs have been shown to contain compounds that may have anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, eating two eggs per week as a part of a well-balanced diet is recommended for most adults, including those with arthritis ( 9 ).

What drinks are good for arthritis? ›

Best Drinks for Arthritis
  • Tea. Tea is one of the most-studied drinks when it comes to its benefits for arthritis patients. ...
  • Coffee. Research shows coffee also has antioxidant polyphenols. ...
  • Milk. ...
  • Juices. ...
  • Smoothies. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Water.

What fruit is not good for arthritis? ›

Citrus fruits cause inflammation

Grapefruit juice can, however, interact with some medicines that doctors use to treat arthritis. People who are undergoing treatment should check with a doctor before incorporating it into their diet.

What are the five best fruits for arthritis? ›

Berries are rich in antioxidants and the Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power.

Is yogurt good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

PROBIOTICS FOUND IN GREEK YOGURT SHOWN TO DECREASE INFLAMMATION OF ARTHRITIS. Probiotic supplementation was found to reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation in a recent randomized controlled study.

Videos

1. 7 Foods You Should NEVER Eat If You Have Arthritis (R.A)/Fibromyalgia - REAL Patient
(Bob & Brad)
2. Fort Worth chef turns to nutrition to help battle rheumatoid arthritis
(The Dallas Morning News)
3. One Woman's Story On Beating Arthritis With A Healthy Diet
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4. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS | what I eat every week
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5. Anti inflammatory diet for chronic inflammation, chronic pain and arthritis
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