Foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients may help with gout and other types of inflammatory arthritis. However, diet alone cannot cure or treat arthritis or gout.

Diets focusing on whole foods and including fewer processed foods and meats may help reduce inflammation. A balanced diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fatty fish, and olive or other plant-based oils.

Diets that focus on these changes may positively affect inflammation and make joints feel and function better.

This article reviews 10 foods that can help decrease inflammation and ease the pain and stiffness of inflammatory arthritis.

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Several types of arthritis, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), involve inflammation in the body. Controlling inflammation could lead to a reduction in the severity of symptoms.

Evidence suggests that certain diets may have an anti-inflammatory effect. The Arthritis Foundation suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet is a good way to boost overall health and reduce inflammation due to its focus on whole foods.

Several studies have shown evidence of the Mediterranean diet’s positive effect on inflammation. A 2021 study suggested this diet was associated with lower inflammation in older adults.

A 2020 meta-analysis noted that diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, that focus on eating vegetables, fruits, and olive oil while limiting meat intake can help with inflammation.

Researchers in a 2020 study investigated the effects of an anti-inflammatory diet on the symptoms of RA. Over 10 weeks, 47 participants in Sweden ate an anti-inflammatory diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and probiotics.

At the end of the study, participants who ate an anti-inflammatory diet had lower RA disease activity scores than a control group who ate a typical Swedish diet.

Researchers suggested that including probiotics in the anti-inflammatory diet may have contributed to the positive results. People with RA may have less diverse gut microbiota than people without RA. Probiotics may alter the microbiota and reduce the immune response, leading to less severe RA symptoms.

All of the studies mentioned that additional, long-term investigations are necessary to better understand how diet can affect inflammation.

People with gout often have high levels of uric acid, which results from the breakdown of purines in foods such as red meat, organ meat, and some seafoods.

Therefore, people with gout need to keep their uric acid levels below 6 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). To do this, the Arthritis Foundation recommends avoiding:

  • alcohol, such as beer and liquor
  • soda
  • organ meat
  • some fish and seafood including anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout and haddock

It is important to note that while certain foods may help manage inflammation, a person is unlikely to get their desired results by simply replacing or adding a few anti-inflammatory foods. All the studies above focused on entire diets, rather than individual foods.

While any healthy changes are worthwhile, people can focus on making changes to their diet as a whole and including a wide variety of potentially anti-inflammatory foods.

And, as the Arthritis Foundation notes, no specific diets for inflammatory arthritis will replace other forms of treatment.

Below are some foods that may be beneficial.

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.

People who follow a Mediterranean diet include oily or fatty fish, like salmon or tuna, as part of their regular diet. Studies have shown that the fatty acids found in these fish may help reduce overall inflammation.

A 2018 study concluded that people with RA who consumed fish twice or more weekly had significantly lower disease activity scores than people who never consumed fish or ate it less than once per month.

Eating fatty fish regularly may help reduce inflammation in people with RA. However, people with gout should focus on eating low purine-rich fish. Moreover, they should only occasionally eat moderate purine-rich fish which include:

  • mussels
  • scallops
  • shrimp
  • crab
  • oysters
  • squid
  • lobster

Learn more about the health benefits of oily fish here.

Dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, provide a variety of nutrients, including:

They are also a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants that may help prevent cellular damage.

Vitamin K may help with preventing inflammatory conditions.

Dark, leafy green vegetables form part of an anti-inflammatory diet and may help reduce symptoms in people with RA.

Learn more about green, leafy vegetables here.

Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. It may help with inflammation throughout the body.

The Arthritis Foundation notes olive oil contains certain chemicals that may reduce the inflammatory response, similar to ibuprofen.

A 2018 study examined olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and its effects on the heart. Researchers noted olive oil might be helpful for inflammation and heart health. However, they also noted that many studies are poorly designed and insufficient to fully prove olive oil’s effects.

Learn more about the health benefits of olive oil here.

Berries contain polyphenol compounds, which may have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects.

They also provide several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals — molecules that can damage cells and organs.

A 2018 journal article highlights research suggesting that the polyphenols in blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and pomegranates may help reduce pain and inflammation in people with arthritis.

A study from the same year asked people with RA to say how certain foods affected their RA. Blueberries and spinach were the most likely to improve symptoms.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends that people with gout eat cherries to lower their risk of gout flare-ups. The anthocyanins in the fruit — the pigments that give them their purple-red color — have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

When it comes to fruit in general, people with gout may wish to consume moderate amounts. The results of research into the effects of fruit sugar, or fructose, on uric acid levels are mixed. Some studies report an association between gout and eating fruit, while others show a lowered risk of gout.

People can try to include several types of fresh or frozen berries in their daily diet to benefit from their nutrients.

Find a guide to antioxidant foods here.

The nutrients in citrus fruit may play a role in limiting oxidative stress and helping reduce inflammation. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are good sources of folate, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals.

The Arthritis Foundation states that vitamin C decreases uric acid levels and may help prevent gout flares. Grapefruits and oranges are high in vitamin C but low in fructose, which contributes to higher uric acid levels. Studies suggest consuming at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Learn about 12 healthy fruits here.

People can drink green tea hot or cold, take it as a supplement, or add green tea powder to smoothies and other foods. A major component of it, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), may help with inflammation.

According to a meta-analysis from 2016, researchers found that EGCG may help reduce inflammation in the body. Researchers noted that additional studies are necessary to fully understand EGCG’s impact on inflammation and its potential for people with inflammatory arthritis and gout.

A 2016 study examined the effects of green tea on RA symptoms and disease markers in older adults. People who took green tea supplements — either alone, with exercise, or with the drug infliximab — showed significant improvement in RA symptoms and other disease markers.

Learn more about green tea here.

Broccoli is a dark green cruciferous vegetable that contains vitamins A and C and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds from plants that may help reduce inflammation and the risk of developing cancer.

Broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane may help block the inflammatory process and slow cartilage damage in people with osteoarthritis. Eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables may also prevent RA from developing.

Learn more about broccoli here.

According to a 2018 meta-analysis, consuming whole grains can help reduce systemic inflammation. However, additional studies are needed to fully understand its effects.

Whole grains provide fiber, protein, and other nutrients. Common examples of whole grains include:

Beans provide fiber and protein with minimal fat. They have several nutrients that can promote heart health, help with weight management, and reduce inflammation.

People can include beans in cooked dishes, blend them into dips, and add them to a salad.

Learn more about the health benefits of beans here.

Garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots are members of the allium family, which contain the antioxidant quercetin. Research is underway to investigate whether quercetin can reduce inflammation in conditions such as RA.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, alliums also contain diallyl disulfide, which may reduce cartilage-damaging enzymes.

They also add flavor to dishes, making them easy to include in the diet.

Learn more about the health benefits of onions here.

In addition to dietary changes, people may find that other lifestyle strategies may help support their joints and minimize symptoms. Some of these include:

  • being physically active
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • choosing low impact activities, exercises, and sports, such as swimming or walking
  • reducing and managing stress
  • getting plenty of quality sleep and rest

Learn about the best home remedies for arthritis here.

Arthritis has no cure. However, with medical treatment and lifestyle changes, people with arthritis can live healthy lives.

A person’s outlook will depend on the type of arthritis they have, their age, affected joints, lifestyle, and other health-related factors.

A person can talk with a doctor if their symptoms worsen or do not improve over time. They may also want to discuss dietary changes with a doctor, particularly if they are living with underlying medical conditions or taking certain medications.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet may help reduce inflammation in the body. This may help some people with joint inflammation find some additional relief.

While individual foods may have a small anti-inflammatory effect, for best results, a person can focus on their diet as a whole rather than just adding a few foods to their regular diet.

Making healthy food choices is part of an overall treatment strategy for inflammatory arthritis, including gout. Alongside exercise, home remedies, and other lifestyle modifications, it can help people manage their symptoms.