Knee-Friendly Foods

assorted sliced fruits

Whole Foods play a major role in a healthy diet, and they also contain nutrients that can help with knee pain.

It is important to beat inflammation wherever possible for optimal joint function. Inflammation is the primary source of cartilage breakdown.

Here is a list of whole foods and items to incorporate into a daily routine to help with knee pain or arthritis symptoms.

  • Legumes (Beans, Peas, & Peanut) Legumes, like Lentils, have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, because collagen is a protein, the protein content of legumes is helpful in replenishing the collagen necessary to rebuild cartilage. (1)
  • Vitamin C Abundant Foods (Oranges or other citrus, kiwis, red peppers, kale, and strawberries) Vitamin C promotes the building of collagen, which is one of the primary components of cartilage.
  • Pomegranates-The pomegranate fruit is great for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Green Tea- Green tea has many health benefits. One thing is the compounds in green tea, like catechins and polyphenols, help with other conditions and may also be important in protecting and restoring cartilage.
  • Turmeric-This spice has long been used in herbal and traditional medicine and is also known for its anti-inflammatory.
  • Avocados- are high in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat, and they are also a good source of Vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory effects. Eating a diet high in these compounds has been linked to a decreased risk of joint damage. (2)
  • Brown Rice- Brown rice may aid the body in the production of hyaluronic acid. This substance acts to lubricate joints and as a shock absorber.
  • Antioxidants (Berries, Grapes, Greens, Beets, etc) – Foods high in antioxidants help support the immune system and fight inflammation.
  • Vitamin A& K (Leafy Greens & Green Veggies)- is essential for bone and joint health. Foods high in Vitamin A & K help reduce inflammation and protect cells from free radical damage from attacking the joint.
  • Nuts (especially Brazil Nuts & Almonds) are excellent sources of magnesium which helps your body absorb hyaluronic acid from your food.
  • Omega 3 (Fish Oil , Fatty Fish like Salmon or Tuna, or Flaxseed, or Chia Seeds) Omega-3s help the body respond to inflammation by interfering with certain cells. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help stop inflammation before it damages the joints. View more foods that are High in Omega 3’s in my Omega 3 Blog
  • Cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower)- These vegetables contain sulforaphane and glucosinate, which can block the inflammatory process and slow down cartilage damage.
  • STAY HYDRATED! Proper hydration can help reduce pain and protect your joints and muscles by keeping the cartilage soft and pliable. Dehydration pulls fluid out of your tissues, which causes overall body aches and pains. Make sure to drink a minimum of 64 oz of water (more if you are outside or exercising) and even hit more watermelon to keep you hydrated! 🍉

Yet another reason to make sure you are eating a healthy whole foods diet daily.


Did you know that eating or drinking certain foods can make your knee pain worse, especially if you have inflammation or arthritis?

Eliminating certain foods and beverages may reduce symptom severity with inflammation, especially within people who suffer from arthritis, and will also improve their overall quality of life.

Here are foods to avoid that can worsen knee pain or arthritis:

  • Processed and Added Sugars. You know you need to reduce your sugar for many health problems and weight gain, but sugar can also trigger the release of cells that can increase inflammation.
  • Transfats and saturated fats. Transfats can be found easily in a lot of processed foods and fried foods, margarine, and shortening. Saturated fats can be found in red meats, full-fat dairy, butter, ice cream, cured meats, biscuits, and fatty meats. These fats can trigger inflammation and worsen knee pain, especially in arthritis.
  • Processed Meats and Red Meats. Research has shown that processed meats and red meats are linked to inflammation, which may increase arthritis symptoms.
  • Highly Processed Foods. Processed foods are contributors to many health issues and obesity, but they also have inflammatory ingredients, which may worsen arthritis symptoms. This applies to fast foods, chips, baked goods, sugary cereals, commercial baked goods and bread, candy, soft drinks, hot dogs, and frozen dinners.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol may worsen arthritis symptoms as it depletes your body water and nutrients, increasing inflammation, and it might also interact with pain-reducing medication. Try reducing consumption or avoiding it.
  • Omega 6 from Certain Vegetable Oils. A healthy diet has essential fatty acids of Omega 3 & 6, but there are a few Omega 6 you might want to avoid with knee pain and arthritis corn, canola, and sunflower oils as they might boost the production of inflammatory chemicals and may worsen symptoms. (1)
  • High Salt Foods. We discussed why you should hydrate to protect your knees; consuming too much salt can worsen joint swelling. (2)

As you see, most of the foods above to avoid are also on a list of items you should reduce in a healthy diet.

If you eat a lot of the foods above, don’t try eliminating them all at once, try slowly reducing consumption at first, and then slowly eliminate them.

The bottom line is if you have arthritis or knee pain, a healthy diet and lifestyle may help improve your symptoms and help improve the quality of your life.

Looking to knock out knee pain and gain mobility? Sign up for my 21-Day Knee Pain Solution program!

Published by Erin Wheless Wellness

I am a passionate Health and Wellness Professional who thrives on helping and motivating others into a healthier way of life, improving their quality of life being in a more Zen state of mind, along with helping them obtain a stronger body, mind, and soul through a holistic approach with health, nutrition, habits, mindset, and fitness wrapped all in one excellent package. All of these elements work in perfect harmony. I believe in coaching the body and the mind from the inside out. I want to help them be the best version of themselves and want to help make a difference one small step at a time. Erin Wheless Wellness programs and coaching services are accessible, weight-neutral, body-positive, age empowered, and all-inclusive. Healthy and Happy bodies come in different shapes and sizes.

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