Arthritis Diet: Eating These Foods Leads To Heart Disease And Stroke

Foods to Avoid with Arthritis Diet

You may have heard that eating a well-balanced arthritis diet could help ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But did you know there are certain foods you should avoid with arthritis diet? These foods can affect your symptoms, risk for complications, or medication.It’s important to consider how many of these foods you’re eating and find a healthy balance, says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RDN, LDN, a clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here’s what you need to know about RA and the foods you eat.

Saturated Fats and Trans Fats avoid with arthritis diet

Inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the American Heart Association (AHA) says that foods high in saturated fats — like cheese, red meat, and processed snacks like potato chips — can raise cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. These unhealthy fats are also linked to inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry in 2012. Avoiding saturated fats with arthritis diet is important for heart health, and people with rheumatoid arthritis may also see some symptom relief, Salge Blake says.


Some research suggests that people with RA may produce higher levels of antibodies to proteins from cow’s milk, according to the Arthritis Foundation, and these antibodies trigger a chain reaction that can worsen inflammation. Although soy and coconut milk can be substituted for cow’s milk, Salge Blake says that it’s not wise to eliminate dairy from your arthritis diet entirely. That’s because lean dairy products are key sources of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential nutrients for bone health.

Avoid Sodium with arthritis diet

The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can affect your heart as well as your joints, according to a study published in the journal Rheumatology in 2014. Sodium increases the stress on your heart by holding extra fluid in your body, which raises your blood pressure, the AHA says. Meanwhile, corticosteroid medications used to treat RA may cause the body to retain sodium. Salge Blake says to limit sodium intake to 1500 milligrams daily. And beware: The AHA says that Americans get most of their salt from processed foods and restaurant meals.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Corn, soybean, and safflower oils high in omega-6 fatty acids may worsen rheumatoid arthritis inflammation. A study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2012 found that reducing intake of omega-6s to less than 90 milligrams daily could help improve RA symptoms. However, omega-6s shouldn’t be confused with beneficial omega-3s, Salge Blake says. And some oils, like corn and olive, contain both types of fatty acids. The bottom line: Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about the right balance of healthy oils for your arthritis diet.

Sugar avoid with arthritis diet

Research suggests that high-sugar diets may also play a role in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2014 found that women who drank more than one sugary soda a day were 63 percent more likely to develop RA than those who drank less than one soda a month, regardless of other dietary or lifestyle factors. Although this doesn’t mean that sugar causes rheumatoid arthritis, the findings suggest there may be a connection.


Although resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, may help ease inflammation, it’s important to limit the amount of alcohol you drink, Salge Blake says. If you’re taking methotrexate, you should avoid alcohol with arthritis diet entirely to reduce your risk for liver damage, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Alcohol also adds empty calories and can lead to weight gain, which can put added pressure on your joints, Salge Blake says.