5 foods everyone with arthritis must eat 47



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Every week, evidence grows that diet plays a huge, underestimated role in fighting arthritis. But which foods to choose?

It’s not easy to say, with so much advice out there and so many healthy ingredients to choose from. Celebrity voices – cashing in on the discussion – make it harder still. But when I work with my dietitian colleague to develop meal plans for people, like me, with arthritis, I ask these questions:

How strong is the evidence this food has anti-inflammatory properties?

For me ‘someone told me at the shops’ or ‘I read it on a blog’ is not good enough. I look at evidence-based scientific studies, from around the world.

How easy is this food to find and does it fit into the lifestyle of a regular person?

If you can’t buy it at Woolies or Coles and add it to a dozen well-loved dishes, I’m not interested. If a food is too hard to find or expensive, people will give up. Of course it must taste yummy too!

Guided by these questions, here are the top five anti-inflammatory foods every person with arthritis should embrace.


1. Spicy cinnamon

Few foods are researched as much as cinnamon. Why? Because it benefits almost every health condition on the planet. Anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidant. Anti-microbial. Anti-cancer. It even lowers blood sugar levels and improves circulation.

Cinnamon is great because you can start the day with a good dose. Sprinkle it on muesli in summer, porridge in winter. Dust it over toast – it goes well with jam or peanut butter. Add it to your morning hot brew or smoothie as a healthier sweetener.

2. Sassy salmon

The studies on salmon show it contains docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids. Sorry…? Just know these powerful omega-3s have strong anti-inflammatory properties, proven to reduce the pain of arthritis. Salmon is also rich in vitamins A, B12, D and E, iodine, selenium, calcium, zinc and iron, in case you had any doubts.

Salmon is an all-day wonder and partner to many meals. It’s also conveniently available cooked, smoked, tinned, frozen and fresh. At breakfast, serve with organic eggs and wholegrain toast. For lunch, add to a big green salad with a lemon dressing. At dinner time, a salmon steak is delicious with roasted veggies or green beans.

3. Nutty walnuts

Nuts in general, unsalted and unsweetened, are laced with health benefits. Walnuts are especially bountiful, linked with reduction of both inflammation and cholesterol.

Walnuts are best munched in place of less healthy snacks at break times. Replacing choccie bars or bag of chips for walnuts is a simple but powerful move you can make to improve your health.

4. Sweetheart sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes topped the charts when a team of European scientists tested over 100 foods for their anti-inflammatory properties. It might seem a dull character, but it’s health benefits, including richness in vitamins A and C, are dazzling.

How many times a week do you eat potatoes? Simply substitute your regular spud for nutrient rich sweet potatoes and count the health benefits. Delicious mashed with pumpkin as a side, roasted with other veggies or sautéed and added to a salad, sweet potatoes are as versatile as a pair of black leggings.

5. Green tea with envy

Enough of food, what about something to drink? Green tea is rich in polyphenols proven to be anti-inflammatory, and relieves countless other conditions, like cancer and heart disease. Other teas can only look on, jealously.

Green tea is ideal hot as a substitute for coffee and black tea. Or cold to replace sugary soft drinks or juices. Avoid mass-produced iced teas; they are loaded with processed sugar. Instead, I make a jug of green tea, lemon and honey to leave in the fridge (try cold steeping over night).


If you love these five and want more, check out this top ten list of anti-inflammatory foods. I’d love to hear any recipe or serving suggestions you have – the possibilities are endless.


Tell us, will you be adding any of these items to your next shopping list?  Have you tried them before?

Sandra Witzel

Sandra Witzel is a certified Health Coach who has lived with arthritis for over a decade. She is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches and works to help people with arthritis through Wellvess.com, an 8-week online program packed with meal plans, recipes, latest research on supplements, exercise tips and a forum to connect with others.

  1. Can’t enjoy cinnamon unfortunately, but agree with other items EXCEPT the wholegrain bread – ALL grains irritate arthritis – and I didn’t hear that down at the shops!

  2. I have had rheumatoid arthritis for over twenty years. It is an autoimmune disease and.i have not found any food that.makes a difference. Generally.just a healthy diet

  3. It is better to avoid the foods that cause inflammation in your body. Until you do that no amount of anti inflammatory food is going to make a lasting difference. Try an elimination diet to find out which foods affect you.

  4. I can tell you from experience what to avoid – sugar (lollies) and alcohol. If i have either of these my hands are playing up by the next morning.
    I lost over 10kgs and my issues with arthritis went away.

  5. I need specific guidelines for anti Herpes Simplex foods. gluten free breads pasta eggs seem to exacerbate the condition… Any ideas??

    4 REPLY
    • My chemist suggested lesathin (sp?) for herpes simplex. I take them in tablet form when I first get “that feeling” and they work for me. Nothing else does

    • Here’s a tip that definitely works for herpes simplex cold sores on the mouth, but as a 24/7 preventative – Vicks Vaporub! This was passed on to me many years ago when I was getting one every few months. Use it as a lip salve twice daily when there’s no cold sore present. Lipstick can still be applied over it. Speculation back then was that the camphor in it might be suppressing the herpes simplex virus from erupting. Everyone I’ve ever passed this info to has reported that it’s worked for them. If you sense a tingle after going to the beach or on a windy day, smear more Vicks on it immediately. (If you wait, it may come up, but will be smaller and far less obvious than usual.) Please note that Vicks doesn’t help if the cold sore is present. It’s only a preventative measure against future breakouts.

  6. So Sandra, if I’m at the shops today and I tell a friend to buy up on these 5 items she should ignore me ????

  7. Heard a doctor, who specialised in arthritis, years ago who said to stay away from Red foods ie red wine, tomatoes, strawberries etc & found that made a difference for me

  8. Kerry Trevisan you don’t have to wait till your sixty…lol. might as well have a go, couldn’t hurt.

  9. I have found staying away from veges from the ‘nightshade’ family eg: white potatoes, capsicums, eggplants, red tomatoes ….and incorporate foods from the cabbage family eg: sprouts, cabbage etc & onions regularly in my diet helps me a great deal to manage pain…and a plus bonus for me was starting warm water exercises twice a week at the beginning of the year which makes me more mobile within my joints.

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