We know that a diet low in processed foods and animal fats and high in colorful produce, whole grains and omega-3s can help alleviate arthritis symptoms. Now promising new research suggests that allium vegetables and broccoli may one day play a role in preventing or treating osteoarthritis, or OA.
In a study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, researchers from King’s College in London compared X-rays and diets of 1,000 women. Those who ate plenty of fruits and vegetables had less early evidence of hip OA, but the evidence was most striking among those who regularly consumed garlic, onions, leeks and other vegetables in the allium family. The researchers also studied a compound in garlic, diallyl disulphide, and found that it limits the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells in the laboratory. However, says Frances Williams, PhD, the study’s lead author, “I would recommend that all patients with OA eat a healthy diet, but I wouldn’t at this stage suggest adding more garlic or supplements.”
Another study done in the U.K. found that a compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, may prevent cartilage from breaking down, possibly by blocking the action of cartilage-degrading enzymes, says Ian Clark, PhD, a professor in the University of East Anglia’s School of Biological Sciences.
Clark conducted the work on cells in the lab and is about to lead a three-year study of some 30 people on the road to joint replacement. He hopes to learn whether, when broccoli is eaten regularly, “sulforaphane actually gets into the joint and cartilage at appropriate doses to display activity [in the body],” he says.
Whatever the future findings of these veggies’ impact on arthritis, it’s a good idea to get more of them now – raw or cooked, alone or as ingredients in your favorite dishes. They’re loaded with flavor, fiber and antioxidants.