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Foods That Help Your Heart and Your RA

The right meal plan can be a two-for-one deal: It will help your painful, stiff joints and prevent heart disease, too.

There's a real good reason to go for this bargain. If you have rheumatoid arthritis you're at a higher risk for problems with your ticker. So make smart choices when you go to the supermarket or dine out.

Inflammation Busters

When you have RA, the inflammation that makes your joints sore, hot, and swollen can lead to clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes. Eat the right foods -- and avoid some bad ones -- and your heart and joints will be grateful.

To fight inflammation, put foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids on your go-to list. They can ease joint pain and lessen morning stiffness. Some good sources are fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and herring. Add two 3-ounce servings to your menu each week.

Fiber can also help. Studies suggest it reduces C-reactive protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation found in the blood. A high CRP level can signal rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods.

Some foods may cause inflammation, so you'll want to stay clear. The offenders include anything high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in oil made from corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and cottonseed. They lurk in snack foods, fried foods, margarine, meats, and egg yolks. We know they're bad for the heart, but it's not clear what affect, if any, they have on RA.

Watch Your Weight

Try to lose extra pounds if you need to, or keep up the good work if you're at the right weight now. If you're not overweight, you'll be less likely to get heart disease, and you'll keep extra pressure off your joints. If you're heavier than you should be, losing weight may help lower inflammation, because fat cells make chemicals that cause it.

If you want to keep a healthy weight, figure out how many calories you need each day, and don't eat more than you can burn off. If you want to shed pounds, eat fewer than you burn.

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