14 of the Best Foods for Joint Health and Fighting Arthritis

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Joints allow us to live and move in the way that makes us happiest. Don’t let an unhealthy diet, illness, injury, or age take joint health away from you! Give these foods a try.

woman_farmers_market_pepper_shopping_produce_outside_picJoints are nature’s hinges. They let us bend, twist, and move in all the intricate ways that make our lives enjoyable, from rock climbing to dancing. Unfortunately, when joints are damaged due to illness or injury, each movement is filled with pain.

This discomfort and restriction of joints can be caused by many things, including strains, sprains, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, and other injuries. Joint pain is a hidden epidemic, affecting one third of all adults, and the immobility and aches only get worse as we age.

Non-Food Tips to Improve Joint Health

Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to keep joint pain, inflammation, and arthritis at bay. Our weight and activity levels play large roles in our joint health. If we’re overweight, that extra baggage compresses joints and can do heavy damage to cartilage while limiting our ability to keep joints lubricated. Work on losing any extra pounds if you want to have healthier joints, especially in the knees and back.

When moving results in pain, it’s easy to stop being active, but that decision will only make things worse. Those who are even moderately active have better joints than those who are less active. Joints require movement to be healthy. Disuse causes the joints to stiffen and the tissues attached to them to weaken. That means muscles, tendons, and ligaments deteriorate as we allow the pain to keep us from moving. Low impact exercise is a good way to keep our joints moving, strong, and well maintained. Focus on exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga to ease your pain, keep your tissues strong, and lubricate those joints.

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Get some sun. A few minutes of sunlight a day will supply you with all the vitamin D you need. Vitamin D lowers the risk of developing arthritis and many other diseases including obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Staying hydrated is another way to reduce the risk of injury and keep joints well lubricated. Drink plenty of clean water and eat fresh fruits. There are also many foods that can ease pain, reduce inflammation, and increase your mobility.

Foods for Joint Health

Garlic, Leeks, and Onions

These are all related to one another and contain a powerful sulfur compound that fights inflammation and pain. They help flavor food so we can use less sodium. High levels of sodium intake have been linked to arthritis as well as high blood pressure.


Apples contain quercetin, which helps build collagen, a main component of cartilage. They are a crisp, delicious way to keep skin, cartilage, and bones young and healthy.


These nuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and manganese. Omega 3 reduces inflammation. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the body from damage. Manganese helps glucosamine work quicker and more effectively as it repairs joints.


The seeds of this quick growing plant are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and essential amino acids the body needs to repair muscle, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.


Purslane is considered a weed by most people, but it is one of the best plant sources of omega 3 you can find. It grows easily or can be found in many ethnic grocery stores. Sacha inchi oil is another good source of omega 3s.


Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces pain. It’s great for sprains, bruises, and cuts too.


This fruit is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and enzymes similar to pineapple. Vitamin C reduces the likelihood of developing arthritis and vitamin A acts as another antioxidant to reduce damage.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The first pressings of the olive fruit are the richest in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and pain.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is rich in essential oils that reduce inflammation, reduce pain, hydrate tissues, and protect against viruses, bacteria, and fungi that deal damage to our bodies. It can be used both internally and topically.

Red Bell Pepper

All peppers are rich in vitamin C, but the red bell pepper is one of the best. It also contains plenty of vitamins A and K along with phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. Vitamin C is known to reduce pain. Red bell peppers also have a touch of capsaicin which depletes pain compounds in nerve cells.


These fiber-rich fruits are great for weight loss, leaving you feeling fuller longer. They are also a great source of potassium. Potassium has been linked to joint health and deficiencies can result in arthritis.


This mild fruit is often added to savory foods or used in guacamole, but is also full of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It is also another good source of potassium and omega fatty acids.


This spice, commonly used in curry, has a secret. Curcumin, the component that gives this spice its bright yellow color, is a potent anti-inflammatory being studied for its ability to combat heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.


Ginger is related to turmeric and carries many of the same anti-inflammatory and pain fighting properties. It is often used for nausea, but it can do so much more.


These greens are rich in vitamin C and manganese for pain management and tissue repair. They also contain copper which helps build collagen for cartilage and ligaments.

friends_hike_nature_outdoors_women_men_laugh_smile_happy_fun_picMost fresh fruits and leafy greens will help ease joint pain. They supply water to keep joints and muscles hydrated. They are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Most of the benefits of these plant foods are only available when we eat them raw. This keeps the antioxidants and enzymes intact so our bodies can put them to use.

Foods to Avoid for Joint Health

There are also many things you should avoid to keep your joints in tip-top shape. Keep an eye out for foods that will slow you down and limit your movement.

Red Meat

Too much protein (especially the more acidic animal proteins) is actually bad for you and can deal damage to joints. Stick to plant-foods as much as possible for your protein intake.


Dairy is a known allergen that causes inflammation and arthritis symptoms. Many people have cured arthritis by simply cutting dairy from their diet.


This stimulating ingredient dehydrates you and pulls minerals from the body. It has also been linked to joint pain.

Trans Fats

fun_fitness_exercise_men_orange_snow_ski_skiing_clear_day_beautiful_picThese processed vegetable fats are much more damaging than saturated fats. They cause weight gain and inflammation, and carry free radicals that harm cellular structures and DNA. They have been linked to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.


Another allergen, soy can cause inflammation and other problems. Chia seeds, flax, and hempseed are better sources of quality protein and essential fats.

Processed Foods

In general, processed foods are full of sodium, sugar, trans fats, and cell-damaging free radicals. They also contain chemicals like phthalates, BPA, and synthetics that are linked to cancers, excessive weight gain, behavioral changes, and many other diseases. Prolonged use of processed foods increases the sensitivity of the body to allergens and chemicals which results in auto-immune responses and chronic inflammation.

Read more tips on joint health!

Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Sunwarrior’s awesome expert writers do not replace doctors and don’t always cite studies, so do your research, as is wise. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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Want to add your voice?

  • Can you site any references from peer reviewed scientific studies substantiating these claims?

  • Great list except bell peppers are a nightshade vegetable known to cause inflammation (along with tomato, potato, and eggplant). There are much better non-inflammatory ways to get high doses of vitamin C.

    • Moderator

      In reply to Cynthia's comment

      Bell peppers, hot peppers, and tomatoes only cause inflammation for those with a sensitivity to solanine, which is found mainly in the stems and leaves of these plants. The high doses of antioxidants and flavanoids, including capsaicin, vitamin C, and lycopene, in these fruits/vegetables also reduce inflammation, so I'm still a fan of them, especially at their ripest when the solanine is practically gone. Only people with arthritis who notice more pain and inflammation when eating nightshade varieties really has to worry about them. Having said that, I am not the biggest fan of starchy potatoes or the chewy odd flavor of eggplant. :)

  • Great article! Sharing this one!

  • Thanks Charlie

  • very clear diet for joint pain. love it!