Super Foods

Fruits, veggies and whole grains are heroes to your joints

For healthy joints, you may want to set aside those doughnut holes and eat a bowl of blueberries instead.

“Your joints are highly susceptible to inflammatory foods, such as refined sugar and animal fat, so it makes sense to eat foods that fight inflammation in your body,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian and Director of Wellness Coaching at Cleveland Clinic.

“Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids – salmon, tuna, walnuts and flaxseed – are anti-inflammatory heroes, and they should be a mainstay of any healthy diet,” she says.

Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage, which normally protects the joints, allowing for smooth movement. “Cartilage is one of the real workhorses of the human body,” Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says. “Unfortunately, this slippery substance that allows your bones to slide across one another at the joints is vulnerable. Arthritis attacks it, and if you don’t nourish it – through good diet and through exercise – it won’t be able to do its job.”

The basic framework of cartilage is collagen, a protein that is elastic and allows your joints to absorb shock, she says. “Keep your collagen strong and happy by consuming ample amounts of vitamin C and flavanoids. The best sources for both include citrus fruits, blueberries, blackberries and cherries – all antioxidant-rich, high-fiber foods you should be eating anyway.”

Vitamin E (almonds are a good source) also maintains your cartilage and helps support its repair, Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says. Other key nutrients for cartilage include vitamin A (great sources include vitamin-fortified milk, carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach), vitamins B5 and B6 (in fortified whole-grain cereals, meat, lobster, nuts and legumes), copper (also in legumes, nuts, leafy green veggies and whole-grain cereals) and zinc (in dairy products, pumpkin seeds and whole-grain cereals).

Simply put, “Consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and heart-healthy fats is the best way to keep your body flexible,” says Ms. Jamieson-Petonic.

To make a gift supporting the Wellness Institute, the Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.

Related Links

Cleveland Clinic Mobile Site