11 Foods to Help Fight Knee and Joint Pain

If you have chronic knee or joint pain, you probably feel the effects all day, every day. You may have arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, or an injury, but all these conditions involve painful inflammation, and all can hurt whether you are using the joint or not. Extended periods of stillness cause just as much discomfort, if not more.

That’s because your joints are designed to move and don’t really like being stationary. Moving them is actually good for healing, as long as you aren’t bearing too much weight or making the same repetitive motions that caused your injury in the first place. But how can you bring yourself to get up and move when you’re in so much pain?

Medication from your doctor can help, but you will be surprised by how much diet actually plays a part.

Try eating more of these 11 foods to relieve that joint pain naturally. They are all proven to support joint health, minimize pain, and help get you moving again.

1. Cherries

In a lot of cases, the more colorful the food, the more antioxidants it packs. That is certainly true of cherries, which get their red hue from natural plant chemicals called anthocyanins. Eating cherries or drinking tart cherry juice has been shown to quell painful inflammation.

It may also reduce flare-ups of gout, a form of arthritis that involves hard crystals in the joints. Other antioxidant-rich fruits to try include pomegranates, blueberries, and blackberries.

2. Red Peppers

Not only do sore joints benefit from a reduction in inflammation, but they improve quite a bit when you can support the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments that cushion them and keep them aligned.

Red peppers have a ton of vitamin C, which aids in the production of collagen. Collagen holds together bone and muscle and gives structure to joints. Other foods high in vitamin C include grapefruit, oranges, tomato, and pineapple.

3. Fish

Sustainably harvested fish is a great all around choice for joint health. It contains vitamin D and calcium to strengthen bones, as well as a ton of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s help to reduce inflammation and many of us don’t get enough of it. If you don’t like fish, eat more low-fat dairy products for the calcium and vitamin D, and consider adding a fish oil supplement to your vitamin routine.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains are great for reducing inflammation, but refined grains (like white flour) do just the opposite. Whole grains retain all three parts of the grain, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. White flour uses only the endosperm, but it is the germ and the bran that contain most of the nutrition.

Try to avoid white bread in favor of whole grain products. Fantastic whole grains include oatmeal, quinoa, barley, and brown rice. Whole grains are helpful for reducing inflammation both before and after exercise.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is the orange-y spice that gives curry its distinctive flavor. It contains high levels of a substance called curcumin, which has been revealed in some studies to rival ibuprofen when it comes to pain relief. Turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine because of its anti-inflammatory benefits.

A study out of Arizona in 2006 found that regular consumption of turmeric may actually help prevent the development of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you can’t find straight turmeric, buy curry powder instead.

6. Ginger

Ginger is another spice common in Asian cuisine. It’s sweet and spicy at the same time with a powerful kick of antioxidants. The substance that gives ginger its strong medicinal properties is called gingerol, and it is known to reduce both inflammation and muscle pain.

But that’s not all. Gingerol can help lower cholesterol, improve brain function, ward off Alzheimer’s, treat indigestion, and potentially reduce your risk of cancer. Ginger can be added to dishes in a dried and ground form or grated fresh.

7. Walnuts

Nuts are high in omega-3s and antioxidants, both of which can soothe joint pain. But walnuts are higher in these critical nutrients than any other commonly eaten nut. Walnuts may also protect against cancer and type 2 diabetes.

You do need to be careful with your portion size because walnuts are high in calories. But some studies show that eating walnuts can actually contribute to weight loss because they keep you feeling full longer and tamp down food cravings that might otherwise derail your efforts. Weight loss is another good way to reduce stress on painful joints.

8. Kale

Dark, leafy greens are excellent for joint health, kale especially. Kale has vitamin C for collagen support plus a good amount of calcium. It also features 45 different antioxidant flavonoids! Eating kale on a daily basis can cut joint inflammation significantly.

However, regular raw kale consumption can have some negative effects on thyroid function. If you’re going to eat a lot of it, alternate between raw and cooked kale.

9. Avocado

Avocados feature some omega-3 fatty acids, but not as much as other foods on our list. What sets it apart is its healthy unsaturated fat, most of it in the form of oleic acid, a type of fatty acid that has been found to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.

Avocado can also help minimize the ability of other foods to cause inflammation, so it’s great to add to all kinds of meals.

10. Flaxseed

Eating flaxseed in an excellent way to get your omega-3s in no time flat. Just two tablespoons of ground flaxseed contains an astonishing 140% of your daily value for omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies show that regular consumption of flaxseeds can significantly decrease production of pro-inflammatory compounds. This is a great way for vegetarians and vegans to get their omega-3s in a plant-based form.

11. Cruciferous Vegetables

The cruciferous category of vegetables includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. They have a reputation for causing embarrassing gas during digestion, but are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber to help reduce inflammation.

The specific form of antioxidant contained in abundance in cruciferous veggies is called sulforaphane, which has been found to block a particular enzyme responsible for joint pain and inflammation. Aim for at least ½ a cup of cruciferous vegetables each day, just maybe not in polite company.

These 11 foods are good for you at any time, but especially when you’re suffering from knee or joint pain. Working more of them into your diet now can relieve discomfort quite quickly, but don’t stop once your aches disappear.

Keep on prioritizing these healthy staples and you will feel better for the long term – not just in your joints, but all over.