Are Antioxidants Beneficial for Arthritis?

Assorted fruit in a wooden board
Antioxidants for Arthritis. James Ross / Getty Images

Question: Are Antioxidants Beneficial for Arthritis?

Antioxidants have been touted as being beneficial for arthritis and other medical conditions. Are antioxidants used to treat arthritis or prevent arthritis, or are they just healthful? What are antioxidants, and in what food sources can they be found?

Answer:

Antioxidants are substances that reduce damage caused by oxidation (when chemicals or substances combine with oxygen).

More specifically, it is thought that antioxidants protect your cells from the effects of free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules that are produced as your body breaks down food, or through environmental exposure (for example, smoking or radiation). Free radicals are considered unstable compounds that can damage your cells and potentially contribute to certain diseases.

Do Antioxidants Help Arthritis?

Some researchers have concluded that the evidence to support taking vitamins A, C, E, or selenium to treat rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis is unconvincing. Other researchers recommend a diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables as vitamin sources.

It seems that if there is any benefit from antioxidants, it is to prevent arthritis rather than to treat arthritis.

What Foods Contain Antioxidants?

Many foods contain antioxidants. Along with fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, poultry, fish, and some meats are also good sources of antioxidants.

Manufacturers of spices are claiming that a teaspoonful of particular spices boosts the antioxidants in any snack or meal. For example, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon in your morning cup of coffee boosts the antioxidants. Other ideas offered by McCormick Spices: Add ½ teaspoon of ginger per quart of lemonade, or ¼ teaspoon oregano to a mozzarella and tomato sandwich.

The company's website also offers other recipes for red peppers, rosemary, thyme, and yellow curry.

There are also exotic fruit juices being sold (Mona Vie, Seven, Noni juice and more) purporting to be powerful antioxidant drinks that can cure your ailments. Are they packed with antioxidants? Perhaps. Are they a cure? No.

Bottom Line

It seems undisputed that antioxidants are healthful, but keep your expectations reasonable with regard to what they can do.

Sources:

Antioxidants. MedlinePlus. April 3, 2009.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antioxidants.html

Continue Reading