Holiday Foods That Can Reduce Joint Inflammation


Food is a huge part of the holiday season, and most people take the opportunity to treat themselves and indulge. What foods are consumed can have quite an impact on the bodies inflammation, and some indulgences can make your joint pain worse through holidays. 

While it’s fine to partake in some of your holiday treats, there are several foods you can incorporate into your holiday meals, and others that you will be better off to avoid if possible. 

It should be noted that you may only see changes in joint health with continued consumption of the recommended foods- so if you can incorporate them into holiday meals they can also be included in your daily meal planning. 

Foods to include:

Turmeric– This spice that is often found in Indian dishes has a compound called curcumin that can help reduce chronic inflammation in the joints. The antioxidant effects of curcumin in turmeric has had reported therapeutic effects on osteoarthritis pain.

Try roasting a turkey with a turmeric recipe, or making a turmeric stuffing or roasted carrots with turmeric. 

Vitamin C Rich Fruits– Foods rich in vitamin C such as kiwis, oranges, strawberries can help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. Vitamin C is critical to bone health, and can help impact the progression of the disease.

Try adding oranges into cranberry dressing, making desserts with strawberries, or simply having a fruit tray as hors d’oeuvres before dinner. 

Garlic– Garlic contains diallyl sulfide which may have an effect of cartilage damaging enzymes. The Arthritis Foundation suggests that garlic can help fight pain, inflammation and joint damage. 

Fresh garlic is best- and can easily be added to mashed potatoes, stuffings, and green beans. 

Broccoli, cabbage and Brussel Sprouts A study done in the UK found that foods high in sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables, can help block the enzymes that assist in cartilage breakdown in the joint. 

Look for recipes with roasted broccoli or brussel sprouts, or try casseroles that include broccoli. All can be chopped and added as tasty additions to salads for an extra boost of arthritis fighting enzymes. 

Fatty Fish Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout can help fight inflammation in the body, including the joints. 

Doctors recommend eating fish 2-3 times a week, so you may way to switch out your holiday turkey, ham, or brisket for a fish option to help reduce joint pain. 


Foods to Avoid: 

The three biggest foods that can increase the symptoms of osteoarthritis include: 

Refined CarbohydratesAvoid foods that are made with refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and processed potatoes. These foods increase the production of oxidants in the body that increase inflammation. Look for options with whole grains instead when it comes to breads and sides. 

SugarsFoods high in sugar content can release enzymes that promote inflammation in the body. Glazed Hams, sweet potatoes, and rolls can have high sugar contents in holiday recipes so it would be beneficial to find a healthier version or skip all together. Canned cranberry sauce also has high sugar content, so you may want to consider a homemade version with limited sugar.

Drinks in particular tend to have added sugar content, so sticking to water instead of sodas or juice at the holidays can help as well.

Saturated FatFoods heavy with saturated fat can cause inflammation of the fat tissue and lead to joint inflammation as well. Skip foods and casseroles made with large amounts of butter or cream as well as as sausage stuffing which is high in saturated fat. Many of these high fat favorites can be modified to reduce the fat content and still be enjoyed during the holidays. 


  1. Yunes Panahi, Gholam Hossein Alishiri, Shahram Parvin & Amirhossein Sahebkar (2016) Mitigation of Systemic Oxidative Stress by Curcuminoids in Osteoarthritis: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of Dietary Supplements, 13:2, 209-220
  2. Peregoy, J., & Wilder, F. (2011). The effects of vitamin C supplementation on incident and progressive knee osteoarthritis: A longitudinal study. Public Health Nutrition, 14(4), 709-715. doi:10.1017/S1368980010001783
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