September is Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month, which makes it the perfect time to load up on these beneficial foods. Fruits and vegetables are crucial to a healthy diet, but did you know certain types can reduce inflammation and strengthen bones? The following nine fruits and veggies offer a tasty way to alleviate pain and build your bones!
Dark Leafy Greens: In your body, there are pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines, which increase inflammation. Vitamin E can actually fight these molecules and reduce their amounts within your body. It can limit, for instance, the amount of damage the heart experiences from these harmful molecules, thus preventing heart disease. One of the best natural sources of Vitamin E is dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens.
Red Tomatoes: Tomatoes and other red fruits and veggies, such as red carrots, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and papaya, are delicious ways to decrease inflammation inside the body, especially for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, colitis, and ischemia. Each is a great source of lycopene, a plant chemical that has positive health-related effects. Unlike other fruits and vegetables, cooking tomatoes actually increases the concentration of readily absorbed lycopene.
Garlic and Onions: These pungent vegetables have anti-inflammatory chemicals that can work similarly to pain medications like ibuprofen. Both work great for swollen joints, and garlic in particular can help ease injury-related and chronic back pain. Onions, shallots, leeks, and scallions contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that limits the effects of inflammatory chemicals within the body. Chopping or crushing garlic or onions releases an enzyme that forms allicin, which breaks down to create sulfenic acid, an inflammation-fighting compound.
Berries: The red and blue colors found in berries come from anthocyanins, powerful chemicals that have been shown to be anti-inflammatory in nature. Raspberries in particular prevent arthritis and gout pain, and eating strawberries reduces the level of CRP, an inflammation-causing protein, in your blood.
Tart Cherries: Drinking the juice from these little nutritional powerhouses has been found to increase athletes’ performance while allowing them to reduce their use of pain medications. That’s because the chemicals in tart cherries protect against muscle damage, inflammation, and pain. 1 cup each day of tart cherry juice or 1.5 cups of the whole fruit can help alleviate some of your worst symptoms. Just make sure they’re tart, not sweet!
Dark Leafy Greens: You may have heard that calcium, a mineral that builds strong bones, comes mainly from milk products. However, did you know dark leafy greens and other vegetables also contain calcium? 1 cup of either cooked spinach or collard greens contains around 25% of your daily calcium! Add these, bok choy, or kale to a green smoothie to pack a bone-building punch!
Grapefruit: Grapefruit – both its juice and pulp – has been scientifically proven to improve bone mineral deposits and slow the rate of bone density loss. The high antioxidant levels found in grapefruits could be responsible for these bone-strengthening properties. Drink its juice or have a half for breakfast.
Broccoli: If spinach and kale don’t spark your interest, broccoli is a great alternative that is full of Vitamin K, which is linked to greater bone density and reduced bone loss. This vegetable, like its leafy green relatives, is also a great dietary source of the bone-building mineral calcium.
Oranges: Not only are oranges full of vitamin C, but the ascorbic acid found in many supermarket orange juices can aid calcium absorption. Starting the day off with a glass of OJ can have a positive impact on strengthening your bones!
Inflammation still bothering you? Feeling a little weaker in the joints and bones? Contact us today to find out how, along with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, Physical Therapy could help!
Know of any other inflammation-fighting or bone-strengthening fruit or vegetable? Let us know in your comments below!