Last week, I discussed how berries can help pain. Other fruits also offer a substantial dose of the necessary antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that helps to lower inflammation, affecting people with chronic pain. Fresh produce frozen fruits still retain much of their nutrients and are easy way to access them anytime. Just adding five or more servings a day to your diet can make a difference. Here are several fruits that can decrease pain.
Tart cherries: Tart cherries get their rich red color and many of their powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits from the flavonoid anthocyanin. Many investigators have shown these properties make them as effective an analgesic as non steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil and Naproxen. Patients who consumed two 8-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily, for 6 weeks, experienced a significant decrease in pain, stiffness and physical function. Study participants also showed a 25% decrease in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. Each bottle of juice equaled about 45 cherries. Even concentrated juice of Montmorency cherries lowered the risk of flares in those with gout and may improve the quality and duration of sleep. Just make sure they’re tart, the sweet counter parts didn’t yield the same rewards.
Avocado: The rich, creamy texture of this fruit comes in part from its high content of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat. Avocados are also rich in the carotenoid lutein. Unlike most fruits, avocados are a good source of vitamin E, another micronutrient with anti-inflammatory effects. Diets high in these compounds have been linked to a lower risk of joint damage seen in early osteoarthritis. Studies also show eating avocados daily increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers its “bad” LDL counterpart. Despite the fruit’s relatively high calorie content, research has found that regular avocado eaters tend to weigh less and have smaller waists. It’s believed this is due to their high fiber and “good” fat content which can help control cravings.
Watermelon: Watermelon is another fruit with anti-inflammatory action by decreasing levels of the inflammatory marker- CRP. It’s high in the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, which can reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, according to studies that followed people’s dietary habits over time. It leads the fruit pack in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect against certain cancers and lower heart attack risk. One cup has about 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes, the next richest raw food source. Watermelon is also ninety-two percent water, which makes it great for hydration and weight management. One cup of watermelon has about 40 calories – plus about a third of your recommended daily allowance of vitamins A and C.
Grapes: Both white and darker-colored varieties are a great source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. Fresh red and black grapes also contain resveratrol, another potent anti-inflammatory. Studies show this bioactive compound acts on the same cellular targets as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- NSAIDs. They found that regular grape consumption may help alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis, as well as improve joint flexibility and overall mobility. Researchers attributed the health benefits to high levels of polyphenols found in grapes. In case you’re wondering, raisins are also packed with polyphenols. Because raising contain low amounts of water, they actually have higher levels of antioxidants than fresh grapes. But use caution, they also contain more sugar and calories, and are less filling than grapes, so it’s best to eat raising in moderation.
Apples: In a study where participants ate three-quarters of a cup of dried apples every day within six months, the apple eaters found their CRP fell thirty-two percent. As a bonus, they also lost an average of 3.3 pounds! It’s the pectin, a soluble fiber that gels in the gastrointestinal tract that can help curb appetite. Both dried, fresh, or baked apples work, but when they are over-ripe it breaks down the pectin. Whichever you choose, the best apples are those you’ll eat. At around 80 calories for a medium (tennis-ball-sized) apple, it’s hard to go wrong with any variety. But there is additional evidence that Red Delicious apples may have higher antioxidants – especially when you leave the peel on.
Pineapple: Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme, gives this tropical fruit its potential to decrease inflammation. Studies suggest bromelain might reduce knee pain in otherwise healthy adults. Other research suggests that bromelain supplements may reduce pain and inflammation in those already suffering from knee osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel symptoms. In fact, in one study patients with osteoarthritis found that taking a digestive enzyme supplement containing bromelain helped relieve pain as effectively as common arthritis medicines like diclofenac- a prescription NSAID.
Cantaloupe: The water, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in cantaloupe can provide a variety of health benefits. During metabolism, the body produces unstable molecules called free radicals, which can collect in the body and harm cells. This damage is known as oxidative stress. Antioxidants help remove these free radicals from the body and prevent oxidative stress, which can lead to inflammation and pain. Cantaloupe contains a range of antioxidants, including selenium, beta carotene, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin and choline to do the job.
Whatever fruit you love, these options are not only delicious but beneficial. Add them to your grocery list today.