5 Foods That Can Inflame Arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term referring to many conditions that cause pain and inflammation in the joints. Research has shown that your diet can have a significant impact on arthritis symptoms, and that an anti-inflammatory diet can be especially beneficial.

Here are 5 foods to avoid if you have arthritis, due to their inflammatory properties. 

Added Sugars

Several reputable studies have shown that diets high in added sugars can lead to obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammation (which can make arthritis symptoms worse).  Consuming added sugar increases the number of inflammation-causing AGEs in your body, a harmful compound that forms when sugar combines with proteins or fats in the blood. 

Foods to avoid: soda or other sweetened drinks, candy, desserts, most cereals.

Try instead: whole fruits, unsweetened beverages (tea, milk, etc.)


If you consume alcohol, you have a higher risk of developing gout, a type of arthritis in which uric acid buildup causes episodes of acute pain in the joints.   When drinking alcohol, do so in moderation, with no more than 2 drinks in a 24 hour period.



Many foods, especially shelf-stable and frozen food products from the grocery store, contain a plethora of preservatives to increase shelf-life. Excess consumption of salt, and other preservatives can lead to inflammation in the joints.  For most people with arthritis, it’s best to try and limit your sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg/day.

Foods to avoid: processed meats, chips/crackers, canned foods, frozen meals from the grocery store.

Try instead: whole foods, homemade meals, low sodium condiment alternatives


Omega-6 Oils

Most processed baked goods and snacks contain corn oil, which is very high in omega-6 fatty acids.  While a certain amount of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet is essential, if your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 acids is out of balance that can lead to inflammation.  Unfortunately, the typical American diet is heavy in omega-6 and low in omega-3s.  

Foods to avoid: corn, peanut, canola, and vegetable oils.

Try instead: Fish oil supplements, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil


Fried Foods

Fried foods contain AGEs and trans fats, which are two of the main culprits for inflammation. 

Foods to avoid: anything deep-fried

Try instead: baked or grilled unprocessed foods



Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive that can trigger inflammation. It’s often found in heavily processed foods and Asian food.

Foods to avoid: Chinese take-out, deli meat, store-bought salad dressings, canned foods.

Try instead: Homemade stir-fry’s, fresh or frozen vegetables, homemade salad dressings