Summer warmth can bring relief to achy joints, and so might summer fruits and vegetables. Indulge in the flavors of the season with these fresh picks, all packed with healthful, inflammation-fighting nutrients.
Strawberries contain anthocyanins, which help keep inflammation at bay, says registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen, author of UnJunk Your Diet (August 2014, Skyhorse Publishing). Plus, strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which has been linked with building collagen and connective tissue.
Try this: Make a summer sorbet by washing, hulling and freezing the berries, and then pureeing them. Add cacao nibs or dark chocolate bits (at least 80 percent cocoa) for an extra healthy crunch.
Red bell peppers
A study in the journal Inflammation in 2012 suggests that the flavonoid quercetin in these sweet peppers can inhibit inflammatory agents that may lead to joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), says Nielsen.
Try this: Stuff them with a sautéed mix of quinoa, beans, tomatoes and spinach.
Apricots are rich in the plant-based chemical beta-cryptoxanthin, which studies have shown may help prevent osteoarthritis as well as inflammatory forms of arthritis. They also have high levels of magnesium, which strengthen bones and may ease pain, too.
Try this: Stuff them with goat cheese and almonds or grill and add them to tacos.
The beta-carotene that’s plentiful in carrots lowers uric acid, which may help keep gout symptoms at bay Carrots also have lots of collagen-building vitamin C.
Try this: Eat them with hummus, add them to coleslaw or blend them into smoothies.
Along with beta-cryptoxanthin, which may reduce inflammation, watermelon is a great source of bone-healthy vitamin A, as well as potassium and magnesium – minerals that research from the Framingham Heart Study linked to higher bone density.
Try this: Mix it in the blender with lemonade or iced tea or just slice it and dig in.
The antioxidants – carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamin C – in these summer veggies fight free-radical damage and reduce inflammation, slowing down cartilage deterioration and reducing joint pain, says Jamie Mok, clinical dietitian Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in California
Try this: Brush slices of them with olive oil and grill them, add them to a stir-fry or shred and use them in baked goods.
Anthocyanins in tart cherries help relieve osteoarthritis pain and control gout flares in some people. Sweet cherries, which also contain anthocyanins, may help reduce C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in RA and other inflammatory diseases, according to a study last year in the Journal of Nutrition.
Try this: Eat them fresh off the stem or add them to salads or oatmeal
Tomatoes are packed with healthy antioxidants, including vitamin C, lycopene and quercetin, says registered dietitian Vandana Sheth, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some people report that tomatoes amp up their arthritis pain so they can’t eat them. But for those who can, tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, and research has linked lycopene to lower cardiovascular risks. That’s significant because people with inflammatory arthritis have higher cardiovascular risks than other people.
Try this: Chop them with basil and garlic and serve them on toasted bread as bruschetta; or use them in a fresh pasta sauce or salsa.