An RA-Friendly Grocery List

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 28, 2022
2 min read

While there’s no specific “RA diet,” what you eat can play a big role in how you feel, both physically and mentally. It’s probably no surprise that refined foods that are high in added salt, sugar, and preservatives can lead to the inflammation that drives swelling and pain. They also promote weight gain that puts added stress on joints. Your mental health takes a hit, too: These foods have a link to conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Meanwhile, a diet built around whole foods with minimal processing will help keep inflammation at bay. This way of eating is key to protecting your heart health; with RA, your risk of heart disease is almost double that of someone who doesn’t have it. You’ll lessen your chances of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes. Your mood will get a boost as well.

You don’t have to follow a specific diet, although these healthy foods are all part of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. When you shop, think:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Unrefined whole grains
  • Nuts and nut milks
  • Fatty fish
  • Lean meats  

If this is a drastic change from the way you eat now, work these foods in over time. And for long-term meal planning, feel free to rely on canned or frozen vegetables: Their nutritional value is very close to fresh.

Add some of these items to your grocery list, or print this list out and take it with you to the store.

  • Dark leafy greens: Mustard, collard, romaine lettuce, spinach, kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes 
  • Kiwi
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, tuna, herring, scallops
  • Lean poultry: chicken, turkey breasts
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tofu
  • Hummus
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat kefir
  • Low-fat cheese: feta, Parmigiano-Pecorino, brie, chevre
  • Tzatziki
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Whole-grain flours
  • Oats (steel-cut, rolled, or Irish)
  • Legumes/beans: lentils, cannellini, kidney, chickpeas
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pine, pistachio
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Brown rice
  • Spices
  • Vegetables (no added sauces)
  • Fruits (no added sugar)
  • Lean poultry (chicken, turkey breasts)