Rheumatoid Arthritis: Watch What You Eat

The role of food

A growing body of research suggests that if you have rheumatoid arthritis, what you eat or how you cook it may play a role in reducing—or exacerbating—inflammation and other symptoms.

Include: Fatty fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, such as sardines, salmon, and lake trout, may help reduce joint pain, morning stiffness, and may even let you to take fewer pain medicines.

Include: Extra virgin olive oil

A substance in some extra-virgin olive oils shows potential as an anti-inflammatory. Drizzle it on whole-grain bread instead of using butter, and use it in your salad dressing.

Include: Plenty of fiber

Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables have been shown to lower blood levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein.

Consider: A little alcohol

Studies suggest that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as one glass of beer or wine, may reduce the severity of inflammation and joint pain.

Avoid: Snack foods

Some types of omega-6 fatty acids, found in many snack foods, fried foods, margarine, corn oil, and safflower oil, can increase inflammation.

Avoid: Meat

Stay away from not only red meat, but also poultry and shellfish. Better choices are plant-based foods like beans, tofu, and lentils.

Avoid: Frying

Try baking or broiling your food instead.

Meet Our Writer

HealthAfter50 was published by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, providing up-to-date, evidence-based research and expert advice on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health conditions affecting adults in middle age and beyond. It was previously part of Remedy Health Media's network of digital and print publications, which also include HealthCentral; HIV/AIDS resources The Body and The Body Pro; the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter; and the Berkeley Wellness website. All content from HA50 merged into Healthcentral.com in 2018.