When it comes to anti-inflammatory benefits, a plant-based diet that includes fish is the way to go. Flavonoids and carotenoids, plant pigments responsible for the rich hues of fruits and vegetables, may reduce free radical damage—a sort of cellular warfare that both worsens and is aggravated by arthritis. Within this dietary framework, focus on these particular foods, whose key chemicals have caught the attention of scientists.
Fatty fish are laden with inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Supplemental fish oil can also reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Interestingly, a 2014 study showed that an omega-3 fatty acid extract from New Zealand green lipped mussels outperformed fish oil in providing relief for people with osteoarthritis (OA).
Beet juice has many healthful merits. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, seven healthy men drank two cups of beet juice a day for six days. Drinking it appeared to improve athletic performance by enhancing the efficiency of skeletal muscles’ use of oxygen. Blood pressure was also reduced.
Watermelon contains the amino acid L-citrulline, which increases nitric oxide, in turn promoting blood circulation and glucose uptake into cells. It also seems to reduce muscle pain. In a 2013 study, athletes who drank 17 ounces of fresh watermelon juice an hour before an intense workout had less muscle soreness than those who drank a placebo beverage.
Avocadoes are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and healthy fats, among other nutritional virtues. A product called avocado and soy unsaponifiables (ASU) is made from the unsaponifiable fats (those that can’t be made into soap with the addition of lye) of both foods. Studies show ASU reduces symptoms of knee and hip OA and may help repair joints.
Pineapples are brimming with antioxidants, chemicals that promote healing after injury, and the enzyme bromelain. Preliminary research shows this enzyme may help treat sports injuries and, with the enzyme trypsin and the flavonoid rutin, help relieve OA pain. However, one large study did not find significant benefit from bromelain used alone or in combination with trypsin and rutin.
Cherries owe their ruby hue to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Studies have focused on the juice of tart cherries. A small 2006 trial showed that drinking 12 ounces of tart cherry juice before, during and after a bout of intense exercise reduced the usual post-workout pain and loss of muscle strength. Two 2010 trials found that consuming tart cherry juice (12 ounces twice a day) for several days spanning a marathon improved recovery. Another study showed that people with gout who ate cherries had fewer attacks of the painful arthritis.
By Linda B. White, Mother Earth Living
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