Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Should I Eat?

When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, the foods one eats or avoids can actually affect the symptoms of this autoimmune disease. Dietary interventions can be a useful compliment to pharmacological treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. What it mostly comes down to are certain foods that either promote or discourage inflammation.

Overall, a type of diet known as the “Mediterranean diet” focuses on many of the protective foods while eschewing the problematic foods. Several human studies have documented rheumatoid arthritis symptom improvement, in terms of pain, disease activity, and daily function, when patients transition to a Mediterranean diet.

In addition to the Mediterranean diet, other dietary factors have been either lauded or implicated in rheumatoid arthritis progression and symptoms. Here is a summary of those dietary factors:

Choose These Foods   

  • Whole grain cereals
  • Fruits
  • Oily fish
  • Plant-based oils (olive oil)
  • Walnuts
  • Leafy greens
  • Legumes
  • Spices (turmeric, ginger)
  • Probiotic yogurt
  • Green tea

Avoid These Foods

  • Meat
  • Butter
  • All animal products
  • Processed foods
  • Salty foods
  • Sugar
  • Saturated fats


Forsyth C, Kouvari M, D’Cunha NM, et al. The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis prevention and treatment: a systematic review of human prospective studies. Rheumatol Int December 18, 2017 doi: 10.1007/s00296-017-3912-1.

Khanna S, Jaiswal KS, Gupta B. Managing rheumatoid arthritis with dietary interventions. Front Nutr 2017;4:52.