Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 12, 2021
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1. Keep It Simple

Although no diet is proven to cure or treat psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other inflammatory conditions, you can choose foods that will help with it. Go for items that haven’t been highly processed. You want ones that are still close to their natural state.

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2. DON’T Avoid Nightshade Vegetables

Tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, and eggplants are sometimes called “nightshade” veggies. Some people say they have less joint pain and inflammation when they stop eating nightshades, but research hasn't shown this. Take tomatoes, for example. They have lycopene and vitamin C that help curb inflammation. Chili peppers also have benefits.

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3. DO Get Spicy

Paprika belongs in your spice rack. It lends flavor, color, and health perks to food. It’s got capsaicin, a natural pain and inflammation fighter. You can also get capsaicin from chili peppers, red peppers, and cayenne pepper. Other spices like ginger, turmeric, and garlic may offer similar health perks.

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4. DO Look Beyond Refined Starches

Foods like white rice and white bread don’t have much fiber. To keep inflammation at bay, go with whole grains or whole wheat. You’ll get lots of other nutrients, too.

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5. DON’T Overlook Sugar

You know it’s in cake and cookies. But have you checked how much is in your yogurt, breakfast cereal, or even your fat-free salad dressing or tomato sauce? Take a look at the labels and add it up. The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than 25 grams of added sugars daily. For men, the limit is 37 grams.

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6. DO Go Lean

Too much fat in your steak, pork, and lamb can promote inflammation. So can processed red meats like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. Saturated fat might be one of the reasons for that. Look for lean protein. Beans, fish, tofu, and skinless chicken are also good options.

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7. DON’T Shy Away From Fatty Fish

Eat two servings a week, particularly salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna. Fatty fish are one of the best sources of omega-3s, a type of fat that tames inflammation throughout the body.

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8. DON’T Pass Up Cocoa

It has flavonoids, which are nutrients that may curb inflammation. To get cocoa in its best form, avoid it in highly sweetened, processed foods (like cookies). Instead, add cocoa powder to smoothies, chili, or a mug of steamed milk. Tea and red wine have similar flavonoids. But you’ll undo any benefit if you have too much alcohol. Limit the booze to no more than one drink a day if you're a woman or two if you're a man.

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9. DO Love Your Lentils

Whether red, green, black, or brown, these seeds are a great source of fiber. They’re good in soups and Indian foods (a great place to add those spices we mentioned earlier). Don’t like lentils? Try beans and peas. You’ll still get the fiber but with a different taste.

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10. DON’T Go Overboard With Olive Oil

It's a tasty part of the good-for-you Mediterranean diet. But it’s also high in calories, so make sure you don’t drizzle too much on your salad. That said, olive oil is a “good” fat. And “extra virgin” versions have a natural chemical called oleocanthal, which shares similar properties with the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen. Nuts, avocados, and olives are other “good” fats you can enjoy in moderation.

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11. DO Try Mushrooms

Several kinds are good for you, including white button mushrooms. Get a variety of veggies in your diet, and eat lots of them.

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SOURCES:

CDC: “In search of a germ theory equivalent for chronic disease.”
Harvard School of Public Health: Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fats.
Defago, M. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, published online November 6, 2014.
DiNicolantonio, J. Open Heart, November 2013.
Harvard Health Publications. Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods.
Feliciano, P. Nutricion Hospitilaria, August 2014.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. How Fish Oil Fights Inflammation.
Ghavipour, M. The British Journal of Nutrition, published online October 15, 2012.
Linus Pauling Institute. Inflammation.
Gunawardena, D. Food Chemistry, published online October 14, 2013.
Parkinson, L. International Journal of Molecular Science, July 11, 2014.
Wang, S. Natural Product Communications, July 2014.