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4 Inflammation-Fighting Foods for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Foods for RA: Colorful Produce

Nutritionists often advise people to add color to their diet. Why? The substances that give fruits and vegetables their color -- flavonoids and carotenoids -- are also potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are an important component of an inflammation-fighting diet. Vitamin C is another antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and veggies high in these antioxidants include blueberries, blackberries, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, oranges, broccoli, and melons.

Choosing colorful foods -- with red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple hues -- will ensure you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and help you have a balanced diet.

Anti-Inflammation Diet: Whole Grains

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate more whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, and barley lowered their levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body. In people with RA, CRP levels may go up during a flare, and CRP is sometimes measured to track disease activity or to see how well a person is responding to treatment.

Whole-wheat pasta and breads -- hallmarks of the Mediterranean Diet -- also contain selenium, an inflammation-fighting antioxidant. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have lower levels of selenium levels in their blood.

Another advantage of eating whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates -- such as white bread and white rice -- is that whole grains may help you manage your weight better. Staying at a normal weight -- or losing weight if you need to -- will take pressure off painful joints.

Foods for RA: Olive Oil

The olive symbolizes peace in Greek mythology. And its oil seems to have a calming effect on inflammation, as well.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate the lowest amount of extra-virgin olive oil were more likely to develop RA, compared to people who ate the highest amounts. Studies show that a compound in olive oil stops the production of the chemicals that induce inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen work to lower inflammation by reducing the production of these same chemicals. 

When it comes to fighting inflammation, opt for extra-virgin olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olive and contains the highest content of health-promoting nutrients.

In addition to being a crucial component of an anti-inflammation diet, healthful olive oil makes a tasty substitute for saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in foods such as whole milk, butter, ice cream, and fatty red meat. Trans fats are found in many processed baked goods.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 25, 2013

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