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Arthritis is a swelling of the joints caused by inflammation that brings heat, tenderness, pain, stiffness and immobility

Controlling inflammation through diet is an important part of managing this common and often painful condition. Here are the foods that you should eat, to help ease your symptoms

Unsaturated fats

There are fats that are liquid at high temperature, such as olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil and oils of nuts and seeds, says Mandisa Mzila, Clicks Wellness Expert and a registered dietitian in Pietermaritzburg. “They are beneficial, not only because they improve blood cholesterol levels, but because they can ease inflammation.” The Arthritis Foundation notes that the extra virgin olive oil contains the compound Oleocanthal, which has similar anti-inflammatory properties to Ibuprofen.

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Omega-3 fatty acids

Oily fish such as sardines, pilchards, salmon, herring and mackerel are rich in these, and the Foundation recommends at least two servings per week, or a fish-oil supplement. “Vegetarians or vegans can get Omega-3 from walnuts.” says Julie Martin, Community Liaison Officer for the Arthritis Foundation of South Africa.

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Allium vegetables

Onions, garlics and leeks contain Quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound, and sulfur compounds that may help reduce cartilage damage, says the Foundation.  Dicing or crushing these vegetables can help release Allinase, an enzyme that triggers the formation of organosulfur compounds, which research suggests may help reduce inflammation.

Orange and red vegetables

Carrots, squash and sweet potatoes contain Carotenoids and Antioxidants which some research suggests may help lower the risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) 

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Green leafy vegetables

Cabbage, broccoli and spinach contains Calcium, which is crucial for health, bones, and antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C and K, all of which help to protect cells from free-radical damage linked to RA and inflammation, Mzila says.

Fruit and vegetables high in Vitamin C

This vitamin may help protect bone and cartilage, Guavas, red and green peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruit, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, brussel sprouts and kiwi fruit are all great sources. “Have them raw, lightly steamed or quickly stir-fried in a little canola or olive oil, as C is a water-soluble vitamin, so it can get destroyed easily through the cooking processes,” says Mzila

Good to know

If you are unable to get enough of these foods in your diet, speak to your pharmacist about supplements to help with arthritis pain. These include not only fish oil, but Circurmin (from turmeric root) and SAM-e (a natural compound made in the body from amino acids in food), both shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties, glucosamine and chondroitin (compounds of cartilage, which cushions joints), and Vitamins D and K (these are important for strong bones and K has a role in cartilage structure). Check with your health professional or pharmacist before taking supplements, says Mzila, as some may cause side effects or interact with medicines you take.

For more information, call the Arthritis Foundation or the SA helpline at 0861 30 30 30, email or visit




(Original article appeared in the Clicks club card Issue 9/2022 written by Glynis Horning. Click here to read the issue. )


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  • noreen says:

    Canola oil is not suitable for arthritis sufferers, seed oils are to be avoided at all costs.

    • Angela W says:

      Dear Noreen, thank you for your comment, we really do appreciate it when our readers give us feedback. The YEI team are not experts in the health field and rely on outside sources for our articles, In this case we relied on Mandisa Mzila, Clicks Wellness Expert and a registered dietitian in Pietermaritzburg for the article in question. We will refer back to them with your comment

    • Beth says:

      I agree with you Noreen. Canola oil and many other oils are bad for us. They are extracted using very high heat. They are further extracted by the use of hexane. They are then bleached and coloured. Certainly not a healthy addition to anyone’ s diet. I think an article should be written about these issues to inform readers.

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