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Eating Right for Osteoarthritis (OA) of the Knee

Osteoarthritis treatment on your plate

If you’re dealing with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knees, here’s some good news: research published in the journal says that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to help reduce inflammation and pain in your joints.

Read on to learn about how food can help your OA.

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Food and OA

How food helps

Inflammation produces free radicals, the cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins and natural bodily processes. The synovium (the cushion between knee joints) is as prone to free radical damage as the skin, eyes, or any other body tissue.

Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals. from the and Clinical Rheumatology has shown that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression, and relieve pain. Being at a healthy weight is a critical component to managing OA of the knees.

Healthy weight

The importance of losing weight

Avoiding extra body fat doesn’t just take weight off your knees. Body fat is metabolically active, so it’s capable of producing hormones and chemicals that actually increase levels of inflammation.

Try these calorie-controlling strategies:

  1. Dine in instead of out.
  2. Eat smaller portions.
  3. Avoid buying high-calorie foods.
  4. Fill up half your plate with produce.

Tip: Try eating soups as a starter to control hunger. We also recommend Ina Garten’s hearty .

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C

The antioxidant vitamin C is necessary for cartilage development. A lack of vitamin C can lead to weakened cartilage and increase OA symptoms.

Include these items in your shopping cart:

Tip: Try Jacques Pépin’s .

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Research is mixed about vitamin D, but some studies in show that vitamin D can help prevent the breakdown of cartilage and decrease the risk of joint space narrowing.

While absorbing sunlight before applying sunscreen is your best source of vitamin D, you can also enjoy these vitamin D-rich foods:

Look for other foods fortified with vitamin D or calcium, such as:

Tip: Check out Bobby Flay’s .

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Beta carotene

Beta carotene

Beta carotene is another powerful antioxidant that helps destroy free radicals before they can cause excessive damage to joints. Beta carotene is easy to identify because it gives fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, their bright orange color. Other excellent sources include:

Tip: Check out this recipe for from Taste of Home.

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Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids

The healthiest fats for people with OA, or other inflammatory disorders, are omega-3 fatty acids. While some foods increase levels of inflammation in the body, omega-3s actually work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that break down cartilage.

Foods with the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids are:

Tip: Try from the blog 100 Days of Real Food. Top them with walnuts for extra flavor.

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Bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids such as quercetin and anthocyanidins are both forms of antioxidants. The anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin may be similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as aspirin (Bayer) and ibuprofen (Advil, Midol). Good sources of quercetin include:

Tip: Get the flavorful recipe for from Food and Wine.

Spices

Spices

Some spices have anti-inflammatory effects, too. Among the most promising are ginger and turmeric. Grate fresh ginger into stir fries, add it to salad dressings, sip ginger tea, and add to high-fiber, low-fat muffins.

Turmeric is a mustard-yellow spice from Asia that’s the main ingredient in yellow curry. A study cited in the journal has shown that curcumin may help osteoarthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals. Curcumin is a major active component of turmeric.

Tip: Make chicken curry with coconut milk using from the blog SkinnyTaste.

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Takeaway

Takeaway

It’s clear that the best strategies for keeping symptoms of OA of the knee at bay are to:

Your knees — and your waistline — will thank you.

Article resources
  • Belacro G, et al. (2010). Efficacy and safety of Meriva, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients.
  • Ding C, et al. (2009). Serum levels of vitamin D, sunlight exposure, and knee cartilage loss in older adults: The Tasmanian older adult cohort study. DOI:
  • Farid R, et al. (2010). Oral intake of purple passion fruit peel extract reduces pain and stiffness and improves physical function in adult patients with knee osteoarthritis. DOI:
  • Funk JL. (2006). Turmeric extracts containing curcuminoids prevent experimental rheumatoid arthritis. DOI:
  • Haqqi TM. (1999). Prevention of collagen-induced arthritis in mice by a polyphenolic fraction from green tea. DOI:
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