Key anti-arthritis nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids

October 9, 2015

If you have arthritis, good nutrition can help ease some symptoms and help keep your arthritis from getting worse. Eating a balanced diet is essential to getting good nutrition, but some nutrients are especially helpful for people with arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are one example of these helpful nutrients.

Key anti-arthritis nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

They may sound technical and unappetizing, but it's worth savouring what omega-3s do for the body — especially the joints.

Fatty acids are a family of special fats that the body needs but can't make for itself, so you have to get them from food. Once in the body, these fats collect in cells, where they help form hormone-like substances, called leukotrienes, that put the brakes on inflammation — a root cause of rheumatoid and, to a lesser extent, osteoarthritis.

More than a dozen reliable studies suggest that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help quell symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, even if the fats don't slow progression of the disease.

The most important food source of omega-3s is cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout. But you'll also find omega-3s in nuts and seeds, beans, soy foods, green leafy vegetables and cooking oils such as canola oil.

However, as rich as some fish are in omega-3s, fish oil is not entirely benign. Taking large amounts of fish oil in supplements can have side effects and eating too much fish raises health concerns. And cod liver oil? It is high in calories, has high amounts of vitamin A and may be heavy in cholesterol.

Here's how to safely add omega-3s to your diet.

Switch from corn oil to canola oil

Close relatives of the omega-3s are the omega-6s, fatty acids found in corn and other vegetable oils. While omega-3s (found in abundance in canola oil) are beneficial for your joints, omega-6s aren't: promote inflammation, which makes arthritis pain worse. Omega-6s also compete with omega-3s in the body.

So, if you switch your cooking oil, you help to boost your cells' usage of omega-3s and bring your body's fatty acids into better balance.

Consider omega-3 supplements

To get omega-3s in the amounts used for many studies, you'd need to eat more fish than you can probably stomach — at least three servings every day. That makes taking fish oil supplements a viable alternative. But before taking these supplements, check with your doctor.

On the whole, fish oil is safe, with only mild side effects such as fishy burps. But omega-3 fatty acids also thin the blood, so you should be cautious if you're taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.

If you want to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, bear these tips in mind and talk with your doctor to figure out the best method for you.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu