Adding flaxseed oil to meals could reduce inflammation in arthritis patients

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Arthritis describes a diverse set of conditions characterised by inflammation in the joints. 

Uncomfortable joint pain and stiffness are the hallmark signs of this inflammatory disease.

“In the past, people with arthritis were told that changing their diet would not help them,” said Dr Justine Butler, head of research at Viva!.

“Despite this, many people with arthritis have found that certain foods can help while others make their symptoms worse.”

The expert shared that one type of oil, as well as its seeds, could be especially potent at reducing the main culprit responsible for arthritis pain – inflammation.

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The reason why these plant foods could stave off inflammation and benefit your joints comes down to their content of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr Butler said: “There are three different types of omega-3 fats, the plant-based one is called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and your body converts ALA to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). 

“Healthy sources of ALA include nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, hempseed and rapeseed oils.

“But the best source of plant-based omega-3 fats is flaxseed.”

What’s more, two teaspoons of flaxseed oil or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed oil should be enough to do the trick, the expert explained.

However, she also warned not to overdo it, as too much flaxseed oil can have a laxative effect.

Dr Butler added: “The oils and fats in ground flaxseeds may be damaged by light or heat so keep them refrigerated. 

“Flaxseed oil should not be used in cooking, use it on salads in dressings and dips.” 

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While omega-3s can help tackle inflammation, the results won’t be “immediate”.

“Studies investigating omega-3s in arthritis pain suggest it may be up to three months before you begin to feel the beneficial effects,” Dr Butler said.

However, boosting your omega-3 intake and adding flaxseed oil to your daily menu is just one thing you can do.

The expert said: “If you are overweight, losing weight can really help you cope with arthritis. 

“Too much weight places excess pressure on the joints in your hips, knees, ankles and feet, leading to increased pain and mobility problems. 

“Cutting down on sugar and unhealthy fats in meat, butter, cheese, cakes, pies and biscuits and taking regular (even gentle) exercise will help.”

Overall, Dr Butler recommended a low-fat, plant-based diet to help limit the painful symptoms triggered by the joint condition.

“Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), wholegrain foods (such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta), nuts and seeds,” she added.

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