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The Ultimate Joint Pain-Busting Diet

Posted on: April 16th, 2024 by Our Team

One of the common questions asked among patients struggling with pain in the shoulder or knee is, “what changes in my diet can I make to help my symptoms?”  There is no one-size-fits-all diet for joint pain, many foods can help fight inflammation and improve joint pain and other symptoms.

Diets rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans, and low in processed foods and saturated fats, can help with your body’s inflammatory state(1).  The Mediterranean diet emphasizes many of these foods which not only helps with weight loss, lessens joint pain, but has many other benefits.  Some of these benefits include lowering blood pressure, decreasing cancer risk, improving inflammation, and minimizing cardiac and stroke risk.   Some of the key foods from the Mediterranean diet are listed below.


Three to four ounces of fish at least a couple times a week can improve inflammation as a result of their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  In fact, some research suggests that taking supplemental fish oil supplements, in the range of 600 to 1000mg per day, case ease joint pain and stiffness(2).

Nuts and Seeds

One or two handfuls of nuts and seeds per day will bulk up your levels of inflammatory-fighting monounsaturated fat.  The added benefit of nuts is that they are relatively high in calories and can be satiating.  Just don’t overdo them, because unlike some foods, more is not always better.  Overindulging on nuts, especially those that are salted, can lead to higher blood pressure and weight gain.  Try to pick unsalted if available.

Fruits and Vegetables

Nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day (one serving is a cup of fruit or two cups of raw leafy greens) are recommended.  These foods are loaded with more antioxidants than any other.  Antioxidants neutralize chemicals called free radicals that can damage cells.  Vitamin C can be obtained in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, which can help in the maintenance of healthy joints.  Vitamin K in broccoli, spinach, and kale, can reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.

Olive Oil

Two to three tablespoons per day of olive oil can help with your daily exposure to heart-healthy fats.  Additionally, oleocanthal is a powerful anti-inflammatory in olive oil which can have similar effects on the COX enzymes (causing inflammation and pain) as can ibuprofen.


One cup of beans twice a week or more can help your fiber intake, good for your gut health, and helps with phytonutrients which fight inflammation.  Beans are loaded with protein, which is necessary for maintenance of muscle mass, and serve as a much healthier protein alternative than fatty red meat.

Whole Grains

Six ounces of grains per day, which is equivalent to about three cups of cooked brown rice, can help with your fiber intake, and leave you satiated and felling full in comparison with other process grains.  These types of fiber-rich foods can help with inflammation.   Foods such as oatmeal, quinoa, or whole-wheat flour made with the entire grain kernel are recommended because they help optimize fiber intake and slow absorption in your gut.  Be aware than although uncommon, some patients may have a sensitivity to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and other grains.

Nightshade Vegetables

Eggplants, tomatoes, red bell peppers, and potatoes are packed with nutrition for minimal calories.  However, these vegetables also contain solanine, which has been controversially suggested to trigger arthritic symptoms.  While the evidence is limited, be aware of this reported criticism of nightshade vegetables, and take note of your response to these vegetables when adding them to your diet.


  1. Veronese N, Koyanagi A, Stubbs B, Cooper C, Guglielmi G, Rizzoli R, Punzi L, Rogoli D, Caruso MG, Rotolo O, Notarnicola M, Al-Daghri N, Smith L, Reginster JY, Maggi S. Mediterranean diet and knee osteoarthritis outcomes: A longitudinal cohort study. Clin Nutr. 2019 Dec;38(6):2735-2739. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2018.11.032. Epub 2018 Dec 4. PMID: 30553579; PMCID: PMC6451631.
  2. Loef M, Schoones JW, Kloppenburg M, Ioan-Facsinay A. Fatty acids and osteoarthritis: different types, different effects. Joint Bone Spine. 2019 Jul;86(4):451-458. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2018.07.005. Epub 2018 Aug 3. PMID: 30081198.

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