What are the worst foods to eat when you have osteoarthritis?

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

Above all else, if you have osteoarthritis of the hands, you should avoid fatty and unhealthy foods. Weight reduction may decrease your osteoarthritis symptoms; in particular, weight reduction decreases the wear and tear on your joints, especially your knees. Moreover, excess body fat increases inflammation in your body; this increased inflammation can further exacerbate your osteoarthritis symptoms. You don't even need to lose a lot of weight. Consider this -- one pound of weight loss is equivalent to four pounds less stress on your joints [source: Today Health]. Avoid foods that will hinder your weight loss and increase inflammation, such as foods that include saturated fat, transfat and simple refined carbohydrates. Stay clear of fast food, processed food, sweets, fried food and other food high in fat and sugar.

If you are taking anti-inflammatory medication you need to avoid foods that are stomach irritants, such as alcohol and caffeine. These foods can exacerbate side effects typically associated with anti-inflammatory medication, including stomach-related distress [source: NIAMS]. Consult your doctor about foods you should avoid when taking new medication.


So, what should you eat? First, consider a balanced diet of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. A good diet can greatly help with weight loss. There are also specific foods that may help reduce your osteoarthritis symptoms. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce joint inflammation, swelling and pain. Certain fish, fortified omega-3 eggs, flaxseed and walnuts are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Try including foods that are high in monosaturated fat, also known as "good" fat. Olive oil is a great substitute for butter or margarine when cooking. Foods high in antioxidants can also reduce inflammation related to osteoarthritis. Finally, vitamin C helps with the production and repair of collagen, a key ingredient in cartilage [source: Today Health].