Favorite Picks - Advice
A protective diet keeps your knees, hips, and ankles healthy - or helps them heal from injury.
By Liz Applegate, Ph.D.
Published August 20, 2014
Your joints are built to withstand incredible forces. Within each is a capsule filled with synovial fluid that cushions and nourishes your cartilage. It's your cartilage that allows bones to pass over and across each other. A poor diet, age, and genetics can cause cartilage cells to break apart, clog up the synovial fluid, and bring on an inflammatory reaction resulting in pain. Fortunately, you can shore up your joint health with certain key foods.
Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy added extra-virgin olive oil (or EVOO) to the diets of rats that had a joint injury. After eight weeks on the EVOO diet, those rats had significantly higher levels of lubricin, a protein in the synovial fluid that protects cartilage and serves as a lubricant, compared with animals fed a standard diet.
Add EVOO to salad dressings, pastas, and vegetable sauces.
This cultured milk supplies an array of healthy bacteria, including one strain called L. casei. In one study, participants were given a daily dose of L. casei for two months. At the end of the study, they had lower levels of inflammatory markers and less joint stiffness than a placebo group.
Pour kefir over cereal or add to smoothies. Unsweetened brands contain more bacteria and less sugar than sweetened versions.
In one study, subjects with osteoarthritic knee pain who took a daily orange-peel extract for eight weeks reported a drop in knee pain and had lower levels of an inflammatory compound than a placebo group. The effect was due to a bioflavonoid in citrus called nobiletin.
When peeling, leave the white "fuzzy stuff" (albedo layer) on. Use whole oranges (peel and all) in smoothies to get maximum bioflavonoid content.
This fish is a stellar source of omega-3 fats. Studies with omega-3 supplementation show that this fat triggers a series of key reactions that lead to less joint inflammation, especially in those who suffer from arthritis. Research shows that people taking daily fish-oil supplements can typically decrease their use of NSAID drugs, such as ibuprofen.
Fresh is great, but canned varieties are just as rich in omegas.
In a study on people with osteoarthritic knee pain, taking a turmeric extract for six weeks helped minimize discomfort as much as taking 800 mg daily of ibuprofen. That's because turmeric is rich in a potent antioxidant called curcumin that can decrease the amount of inflammatory compounds in cartilage cells.
Add turmeric to rice, beans, stir-frys, and salad dressings for a color and joint boost.
Favorite Picks - Recipes
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
(makes about 4 servings)
- 16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1 teaspoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Asian chile pepper sauce/paste (optional, if you want some spice)
Rinse the whole lettuce leaves and pat them dry, being careful not to tear them. Set them aside. In a large, nonstick skillet greased with cooking spray, cook the chicken in the cooking oil for about 3 minutes. Drain the grease and then add the onion and ginger, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Then, stir in the hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and chile pepper and cook for about 2 minutes. Finally, add the green onions, sesame oil, and carrots and let everything cook for about a minute. Make sure the chicken is no longer pink at this point (if it is, keeping cooking everything until it's done). Spoon the mixture into the center of the lettuce leaves.
Frozen Lemonade Pie from the Food Network
8 hr 18 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 8 hr
Cook: 8 min
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons butter, melted
- One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
- One 12-ounce container whipped topping, thawed
- One 6-fluid-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate, unthawed
- 1 teaspoon candied lemon peel, for garnish
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In medium bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, sugar and the melted butter until combined and resembles a wet sand mixture. Pour into a pie plate and press the mixture firmly along the bottom and sides. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
For the filling: In a large bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping. Fold the two together gently until combined, being careful to keep the mixture light and fluffy. Add the lemonade concentrate and continue to gently fold. Be sure to avoid letting the mixture get too liquid-y. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Place in the freezer to chill overnight.
Sprinkle with a little candied lemon peel and serve!
Quinoa and Mushroom-Stuffed Butternut Squash
form 12 Tomatoes
(Serves 6 - 8)
- 4 lbs. butternut squash; 2 regular-sized squashes
- 2 cups quinoa
- 1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
- ½ cup parmesan
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450º F Cut squashes in half, take the seeds out and place, cut side up, in two 11x7 baking dishes. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil (one tablespoon per squash), and add 1/4 inch of water to baking dishes. Cover baking dishes with foil and bake for around 40 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Reduce oven temperature to 375º F In a small pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil and then add quinoa. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed all water. Remove from heat. In a pan, heat remaining olive oil and sauté mushrooms and onions on medium heat. Add in the garlic after a few minutes. Cook until fragrant and onions are translucent. After squash has cooled, scoop out the insides, leaving about a 1/4 inch of flesh. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, butternut squash, mushrooms, onions and garlic, and parmesan cheese. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture back into the hollow butternut squashes and return them to the over to back for 20-25 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Recipe adapted from My Recipes
Avocado and Black Bean Dip
What you'll need:
- 4 avocados, diced
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 1 can corn, drained
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 7-ounce can salsa verde
- Kosher salt and pepper
How to make it:
Combine the avocado, onion, corn, beans, and salsa, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.