If you've been living with psoriatic arthritis for a while, we probably don't need to tell you about the signs and symptoms. But if you've been newly diagnosed or suspect you might have the condition, here's what you need to know. Psoriatic arthritis is a specific type of arthritis that most often affects people with psoriasis, a condition that leads to inflammation in the body due to dysfunction in the immune system. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriatic arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that affects your joints, tendons and ligaments.
While there's no known cure for psoriatic arthritis, certain treatments like oral medications, topical creams and light therapy may help slow progression of the disease, lessen pain, reduce inflammation and preserve your joints. While the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation doesn't recommend any particular diet for psoriatic arthritis due to limited evidence, it's possible that certain foods and nutrients might help.
Pictured recipe: Pasta with Parsley-Walnut Pesto
For example, the board recommends that psoriatic arthritis patients try supplementing with vitamin D, which may help ease symptoms. And, while there's not enough evidence to say for sure whether omega-3 fatty acids might be helpful, a few studies have found promising results. A 2017 randomized controlled trial of 145 psoriatic arthritis patients found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids reduced the pain associated with the condition. And, because it's well established that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, it's possible that they might reduce the inflammation caused by psoriatic arthritis.
Keeping in mind that evidence is limited and no food or diet is guaranteed to help, here are seven foods to eat for psoriatic arthritis.
Pictured Recipe: Seeded Whole-Grain Quick Bread
In the randomized controlled trial mentioned above, the researchers found that 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day helped reduce the pain of psoriatic arthritis. One of the best ways to get that amount in one sitting is through flaxseed or flaxseed oil. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed (which is great on oatmeal or yogurt!) contains 2 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of three key omega-3s and the only one that our bodies can't produce on their own. Flaxseed oil, which you can take as a supplement, is the best source of omega-3s out there, with 7 grams per tablespoon.
Try some of our healthy flaxseed recipes.
2. Chia seeds
Another excellent plant-based source of omega-3s is chia seeds. One ounce contains 5 grams of omega-3s from ALA. Chia seeds work as a topping for granola, oatmeal or yogurt, but you can also use them to create chia pudding, a thick "pudding" mixture that you make just as you would overnight oatmeal, but with chia seeds instead of oats.
If sprinkling seeds over breakfast or whipping up a plant-based "pudding" doesn't sound up your alley, turn to walnuts. Another excellent plant source of omega-3s, with 3 grams of ALA per ounce, they're easy to find and super easy to incorporate into your diet. In addition to omega-3s, walnuts also contain magnesium and the amino acid arginine, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties of their own. Adding a serving of walnuts to your daily diet could have other health benefits, as well—a 2017 review published in Nutrients found that regular nut consumption was associated with better heart health and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Canola oil
If you're used to hearing all about the health benefits of olive oil, you might be surprised to see canola oil on this list. When it comes to omega-3s, though, canola oil is an unsung hero. One tablespoon of canola oil contains 1 gram of ALA. While we're not suggesting that you get rid of your olive oil—it's an extremely nutritious food!—it's a good idea to have canola oil in your pantry as well. With its medium-high smoke point, it's great for sautéing and baking. And, because it has a more neutral flavor than olive oil, it's a good choice in recipes where you don't want any strong oil flavor to come through.
Pictured Recipe: Salmon & Avocado Salad
While plant sources of omega-3s contain ALA, fatty fish and other animal sources contain the other two key omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Since omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, it's possible that they might ease the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Three ounces of cooked salmon has about 2 grams of omega-3s (a combination of EPA and DHA).
See More: Healthy Salmon Recipes
Sardines are definitely a love-it-or-hate-it kind of food. They're a little fishier than most types of seafood, and are typically sold canned or jarred. But, if you like the strong and slightly funky flavor, you can get 1 gram of omega-3s (a combination of EPA and DHA) in a 3-ounce serving of sardines canned in tomato sauce. Not sure what to do with them? First, try tossing them into pasta, as in this Lemon-Garlic Sardine Fettuccine. Then, when you're a little more accustomed to the taste, try something like these Romaine Wedges with Sardines & Caramelized Onions for a great at-home lunch.
Unlike any other food on this list, oysters contain all three key types of omega-3s. In a 3-ounce serving, you'll get almost 1 gram of omega-3s from ALA, EPA and DHA. The easiest and most traditional way to eat oysters is raw, with a mignonette (vinegar-based sauce) drizzled on top. You can also grill oysters, or use them as your protein in a seafood stew.
The bottom line?
Because there's not much research into how diet may or may not affect psoriatic arthritis, the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation doesn't give any specific food or supplement recommendations. So, you shouldn't expect food to treat or cure your symptoms. Still, there's strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, and some evidence that these fats may help manage the pain associated with psoriatic arthritis.