We don’t usually think of arthritis as a disease that can be food related. But while food is never a cause of arthritis, your diet can negatively or positively impact your pain and symptoms. That’s especially true for inflammatory types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and others.
If you’re struggling with arthritis joint pain, certain foods may help you. We’ve gathered here 10 healthy arthritis snack ideas with powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients!
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet
The food you eat can have a big impact on inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis symptoms, either positively or negatively. While eating certain foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help decrease joint pain and swelling, other ingredients are known to cause inflammation and should be avoided in a healthy arthritis diet.
What foods are best for arthritis?
Foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties are great to incorporate into a healthy RA diet. While food alone isn’t enough to fight arthritis symptoms, it can help and it’s a healthy complementary way to manage the pain along with medications, painkillers, and immune-suppressing therapies.
There's no official list of arthritis-friendly foods, but ingredients that contain substantial amounts of antioxidants, fibers, or flavonoids are known to help decrease joint inflammation. Here are a few examples:
- Fresh fruits (especially grapes, berries, apples, and pomegranate)
- Vegetables (especially broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach, and mushrooms)
- Whole grains
- Omega-3 oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
- Olive oil
- Green Tea
- Dark chocolate
Spices like black pepper, curcumin, ginger, or chili peppers may also have a positive impact on arthritis symptoms.
What foods to avoid with arthritis?
Dietary intervention on rheumatoid arthritis isn't only about incorporating new foods and beverages into your diet. It's also about eliminating the ingredients that are scientifically known to trigger a flare.
These are the main foods to avoid or limit within a healthy diet for people with arthritis:
- Added sugars
- Processed foods
- Fatty foods
- Red meat
- Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes)
While the above foods mostly have common effects on everyone, each individual living with inflammatory arthritis has his or her own trigger foods. Some patients find artificial sweeteners to worsen their symptoms for example, while others have identified gluten to be responsible for increased joint pain.
It's important to experiment and stay attentive to the foods that may negatively or positively impact your arthritis. Keeping a journal of your food trials and errors, and recording your level of pain after eating specific foods, may help you identify your friends and enemies.
The Best Snacks for Rheumatoid Arthritis (and any inflammatory arthritis!)
These food recommendations for arthritis may be discouraging at first, but most people with arthritis easily adapt their daily diet. One thing that is quite challenging though is finding healthy and tasty snacks that won’t trigger any joint inflammation. Here’s a list of the best snacks to have if you have rheumatoid or psoriatic inflammatory arthritis.
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1. Fruit Salad: the healthiest arthritis snack!
Fresh fruits are beneficial for people with inflammatory arthritis. They’re packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, anthocyanin, and other essential disease-fighting nutrients. So why not indulge yourself with a sweet bowl of fruit salad for your next snack?
While no fruit is contraindicated for people with arthritis, some fruits are known to have even greater benefits for joint inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the best fruits for arthritis are berries, grapes, avocados, and watermelon. Apple, pomegranate, citrus, pineapple, and currant are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
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2. Nuts: the best travel snacks for rheumatoid arthritis
Nuts are one of the best snacks for people with arthritis. Their high content in alpha-linoleic acid (ALA – a type of omega-3 fatty acid) makes them a natural anti-inflammatory heart-healthy product.
Nuts are also known to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risks of heart conditions which are higher in people with certain types of arthritis.
Most nuts are good, including walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and other kinds of nuts. Avoid nuts that have been fried or salted. Always prefer natural products labeled as “raw”.
For travelers, you can find nuts in every single country of the World, and they’re even allowed on airplanes!
Related article: How to Prepare for Long-haul Flights When You Have Arthritis?
3. Snack-size veggies with healthy low-fat dip
Vegetables have numerous health benefits, especially for people living with chronic inflammatory diseases like certain types of arthritis. Plant-based foods are packed with dietary fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds. They help lower inflammation and boost the immune system.
Snack-size vegetables like cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, snap peas, or broccoli florets are great snack ideas if you have arthritis and joint inflammation. They’re easy and convenient to carry in your bags.
If you’re a dipper, choose low-fat dips such as basil pesto, low-fat yogurt salsa, hummus, or guacamole for example.
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4. Dark Chocolate: an antioxidant & flavonoid snack for arthritis
Those of you with a sweet tooth will be happy to know that dark chocolate is an arthritis-friendly snack! It’s loaded with natural antioxidants and dietary flavonoids, both of which have proven to help control joint inflammation and alleviate arthritis symptoms.
It does not mean you should eat a bar of chocolate per day. But snacking one ounce of dark chocolate a day may be beneficial for people with arthritis. Make sure your dark chocolate bar does not contain too much added sugar though, as sugar is known to trigger arthritis flares.
5. Fish Crackers: best Omega-3 and Vitamin D arthritis snack
Oily fishes are a great source of Omega-3 and unsaturated fats which are highly recommended if you suffer from inflammatory arthritis. Look for fishes with the highest Omega-3 content like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring, pilchards, and trout.
You can find fish oil supplements in most health food stores and pharmacies. But if what you're looking for is a healthy snack idea to kill a sudden hunger, spreading oily fish mixed with olive oil or a healthy dip on whole-grain crackers is super tasty and quite filling!
6. Whole-grain popcorn seasoned with anti-inflammatory spices
Isn’t that great for a movie night? Popcorn may be a great snacking choice for people with arthritis if chosen and prepared carefully.
Popcorn is an unprocessed gluten-free whole grain that's packed with dietary fibers. Besides, it contains a great quantity of beta-carotene and polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that promotes better circulation and helps lower inflammation. Of course, choosing sweetened popcorn with added sugars could do the opposite and trigger a flare.
What makes popcorn such a great snack for people with arthritis is that you can liven it up with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices known to be efficient for arthritis such as turmeric, ground ginger, paprika, rosemary, or oregano for example.
7. Green Tea: the best beverage for arthritis
Green tea has been used in alternative natural medicine for centuries. Full of antioxidants and polyphenols (epigallocatechin 3-gallate EGCG), this is one of the best beverages to fight joint inflammation caused by immune arthritis.
In a 2016 study, green tea has been found to be an effective non-drug remedy for geriatric patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It also has numerous general health benefits and may help lower the risks of heart diseases, strokes, and some types of cancers.
You can make your own fresh green tea beverage at home or find it ready in most stores. Avoid sweetened ones. Green tea supplements also are available in liquid extract or capsule in most pharmacies across the USA.
8. Smoothies for inflammation and arthritis pain
Smoothies make great snack beverages for people with arthritis. Besides being super healthy, these thick, smooth, filling drinks may help decrease joint inflammation if well-prepared.
You can find tons of yummy smoothie recipes for people with rheumatoid arthritis or other types of arthritis. You can also create your own recipe by mixing some of the best anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables, and spices we’ve listed above.
If you’re out of ideas, a very powerful green smoothie recipe for people with arthritis pain mixes:
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- ¼ cup of avocado
- 1/3 cup of raspberries
- Half an apple
- ¼ cup of almonds
- ½ tsp of turmeric
- Add some water or ice
9. Low-fat yogurt parfait with nuts and berries: a healthy snack for rheumatoid arthritis
Dairy products are quite controversial among arthritis patients and health professionals. While some find that milk, yogurt, and cheese contain a protein that can irritate and inflame the joints, others claim low-fat dairy products have no negative impact on arthritis symptoms.
Trigger foods for arthritis isn’t necessarily the same for everyone. So, make sure to identify the foods that increase your pain and the ones that help lower it.
If dairy products are fine for you, a yogurt parfait with nuts and berries is a great anti-inflammation combo and makes an ideal nutritious snack idea.
10. Quinoa crackers: the ultimate anti-cytokine arthritis snack
Last but not least, quinoa crackers or any product mainly made of quinoa makes a great snack for arthritis. Indeed, the seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant shows many promises for people suffering from arthritis and is one of the best substitutes for refined wheat. Research even shows that quinoa seeds help suppress cytokines, one of the pro-inflammatory proteins naturally found in the body.
There are dozens of quinoa products and recipes out there. If you’re looking for a quick snack to eat on the go, quinoa crackers are super convenient. If you’re at home and have time to cook, a tasty quinoa salad with other anti-inflammatory ingredients is even more efficient!
Food can have a considerable impact on your arthritis pain and symptoms. Finding healthy snacks that are arthritis-friendly, quick to prepare, convenient to take away, and tasty at the same time is not easy. We hope you’ve found some good inspiration here. Please do not hesitate to share your own recipes below!