Best foods for healthy joints

Joint problems don’t necessarily come with age – how we live matters more than how many years we’ve graced the planet. Even so, years of wear and tear can take a toll.

Engaging in physical activity and eating properly are both factors which contribute to healthy joints. Imagine your joints as gears. If you don’t look after them, they’ll rust and seize up. Keep them well lubricated, and they will work better for much longer.

The physical activity is up to you, however, there are some healthy foods that may help to keep those ‘gears’ lubricated and running smoothly.

Salmon
Wild salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids – one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s best to choose wild salmon over farmed because the farmed varieties contain fewer to no omega-3s. Fresh wild salmon can be pricey though, so check your supermarket for canned wild salmon as a low-cost option. Sockeye salmon is a good source of vitamin D, which is beneficial for healthy joints and bones.

Almonds
Ongoing inflammation can lead to the inflamed area becoming vulnerable to damage by free radicals, which then cause further harm to your joints. Almonds are a great source of antioxidants, which fight against free radicals. They also happen to be one of the best sources of vitamin E, which helps to protect joint cells.

Papaya
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects our DNA from free-radical damage. Papayas have almost twice as much vitamin C as oranges, plus a generous dose of beta-carotene – another great antioxidant for joint health.

Apples
Apples are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that is important for building and preserving collagen – which, in turn, provides shock-absorption for your joints. Red apples have the most quercetin – and the darker the red, the better. And remember, all the goodness is concentrated in the skin, so it’s best not to peel your apples.

Black Beans
Bring on the beans – kidney, white, red or black – they’re all packed with protein. Black beans are better than the others when it comes to joint-boosting compounds, and they’re also richer in the type of antioxidants which assist with the reduction of inflammation.

Kale
Kale is loaded with calcium, but unlike dairy, is cholesterol-free and lower in fat and calories. It’s rich in vitamins A, C and K, and packed with other minerals that can help to keep your joints healthy and strong. Kale also contains copper, which helps build collagen and ligaments, as well as manganese, which activates enzymes needed for tissue growth and repair.

Broccoli
Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which is a potent force against free radicals. It’s also packed with vitamins that keep joints well nourished – A, Bs, C, E and K – and loads of calcium and protein to boot.

Ginger

Ginger has been used in Asia for centuries to reduce joint pain and swelling. The spice has much the same effect as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, by reducing the production of a key enzyme in inflammation.
 

Adding these foods to your diet may help to prevent or ease joint related health issues while also providing additional health benefits. It’s always best to buy organic, but if that’s out of your price range, make sure you wash all fruit and vegetables before eating them.

Related articles:
Nutritional supplements demystified
Eating well as you age

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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