Fall Food Guide for Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Choosing the right fall foods can help your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by reducing inflammation, delivering nutrients to your body, and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Read ahead to find out which fall foods to choose and which to avoid in order to feel your best.

Man holding a handful of mixed nuts while hiking.

Go nuts

Nuts are full of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walnuts are particularly good for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds are also good choices. A mixture of nuts with dried fruit makes a great snack to take on long fall hikes.

Woman picking an apple from tree.

Apple picking is awesome

This time of year, many orchards allow you to visit and pick fruit at the peak of freshness right from the tree. Apples are nutritious, taste good, and are full of fiber. According to the Nutrition Journal, the benefits of eating apples are wide reaching. Apples are linked to a reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, and lower cholesterol.

Twice baked sweet potatoes with pecans.

Sweet potatoes are superfoods

Following a nutrient-rich diet is important if you have arthritis. Sweet potatoes are readily available in the fall and are chock full of nutrients and fiber. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, sweet potatoes are rich in potassium and vitamins A, B6, and C. They can be baked and served topped with walnuts for extra healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Baked sweet potatoes can also be kept refrigerated and added to everything from waffles to soup for added nutrition.

Young people tailgating.

Tailgating can be tricky

Tailgating is a great time to hang out with your friends before the game. However, tailgate fare is often full of fried foods like chips and chicken wings, which should be avoided. According to the Arthritis Foundation fried foods contain trans fat which can trigger systemic inflammation. Planning ahead for the tailgating event by offering to bring foods you know will not contribute to a flare up can help you feel your best.

Baked fish dinner.

Fat is fine when it comes to fish

There are some foods that contain fat that you should enjoy this fall: cold-water fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are a natural anti-inflammatory. Cold-water fish, such as wild salmon and canned tuna, are great choices to incorporate into your fall menus. Try salmon cakes on a whole-grain bun or a tuna salad wrap with hummus and baby spinach for your next fall gathering.

Woman eating a bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit.

Let oatmeal warm your mornings

Grandma had it right. Oatmeal is a great way to start your day. According to the Arthritis Foundation whole grains like oatmeal lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. CRP is a marker of inflammation associated with RA. Instead of adding sugar for sweetness, try topping your oatmeal with fresh fruit for extra nutrition.

Bowl of vegetable soup.

Warm soups can be nutrient-packed

Fall reminds us to eat soup once again. If you have RA, soup can be a smart choice for your weekly menu. Not only is soup hydrating, but it can be full of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Broth soups are healthier than most cream soups. Also, homemade soups are usually preferable to store-bought soups because you can control the amount of added sodium and fat.

Family baking together.

Make your own fall desserts

Highly processed, sweet desserts that you buy from the store can be full of empty calories and can cause weight gain. The extra weight can then lead to more joint issues. When you make your own fall desserts, you can make whole grains the primary ingredient, limit the sodium, and use more natural sweeteners such as dates and honey. Adding nuts that are full of omega-3 fatty acids can also make the dessert healthier.

Fall vegetables at farmers market.

Embrace fall’s harvest

Even though we often think of apples and sweet potatoes in the fall, there are many other fruits and vegetables that are ready to harvest this time of the year. Carrots, pears, squash, spinach, peaches, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, cauliflower, and turnips are all full of antioxidants and can be found at your local farmers’ market. The Arthritis Foundation recommends two cups of fruits and two and a half to three cups of vegetables per day.

Pot of chili.

Stir up a pot of chili

Chili can be a great fall dish to get beans into your diet. Beans are high in fiber and rich in healthy nutrients like folic acid and iron. You can add black beans, red kidney beans, and plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables like tomatoes and peppers for immune system benefits.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.