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Eating fruit and vegetables helps us to stay healthy – that’s a well-known fact. We’re all familiar with the five-a-day concept and the importance of good nutrition. If you have a chronic condition like arthritis, it runs even deeper than this. Many vegetables are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties, offering the potential to ease symptoms such as pain, stiffness and swelling.

In the UK, we’re lucky enough to have access to an abundance of fresh produce from all corners of the world. But with everything we could wish for at our fingertips, the ingredients grown on our own home soil can often be overlooked.

When you’re doing your weekly food shop, it’s always best to keep an eye on what is in season, from asparagus in the springtime through to brussels sprouts and curly kale in the winter. Generally speaking, locally-sourced, seasonal vegetables are more nutritious than imported produce and contain fewer chemicals. What’s more, by eating seasonally, you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a sustainable food economy.

The benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet

Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting you from invasive bacteria and viruses. It’s like a defence mechanism. However, with some chronic illnesses, the immune system triggers inflammation when there are no invaders to fight off. 

Scientific research suggests that eating certain foods – particularly those rich in a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols – can contribute to reducing body-wide inflammation, helping to soothe and even prevent painful flare-ups. Countless studies support the positive impact of an anti-inflammatory diet on managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms.

Foods that cause inflammation include:

Foods with anti-inflammatory properties include:

Anti-inflammatory spring vegetables

There are plenty of delicious spring vegetables which can help to curb inflammation. Some of our favourites include spring greens, asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli. All are rich in antioxidants and are extremely versatile. Asparagus is a great source of nutrients, including folate, fiber and vitamins A, C and K, which is thought to improve digestion and lower blood pressure. Meanwhile, spring greens, which are part of the same family of vegetables as kale and cabbage, support everything from bone health through to sleep and mood.

If you’re looking for a quick, fresh lunch, why not try a mixed grain bowl using this BBC Good Food recipe. It features purple sprouting broccoli, a superfood packed with vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds, as well as another renowned anti-inflammatory ingredient, salmon.

Recipe: Salmon and purple sprouting broccoli grain bowl

Ingredients for two servings:


Anti-inflammatory summer vegetables

If you love fresh, vibrant salads, you’ll be pleased to know that lettuce is another anti-inflammatory vegetable, and it’s in season from May to September. Other healthy options include garlic, sweetheart cabbage and red, earthy beetroot, which contains anti-inflammatory compounds called betalains. One particular study looked at the effectiveness of beet concentrate  on reducing pain and discomfort associated with joint conditions, and the results were positive. Can we tempt you with Tesco Real Food’s beetroot and mackerel salad recipe? 

Recipe: Beetroot and mackerel salad

Ingredients for two servings:


Anti-inflammatory autumn vegetables

As the days grow shorter and the trees shed their leaves, the UK-grown vegetables available transform. Mushrooms are a great form of autumnal produce. In fact, they’re the top plant source of vitamin D, which is vital to keep our bones and muscles healthy. Cauliflower, which is high in fibre and B vitamins, and leafy green powerhouse spinach are also excellent choices. 

Sag paneer is a classic Indian dish that’s sure to tickle your tastebuds. Spinach, one of the best known anti-inflammatory foods, is centre stage, and the Sainsbury’s magazine recipe also features garlic, ginger and turmeric. Enjoy it as a main with a chapati or as a veggie side to your favourite curry. 

Recipe: Saag paneer

Ingredients for four servings:


Anti-inflammatory winter vegetables

During the winter months, you may benefit from incorporating seasonal vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts and curly kale into your diet. These collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and B-6, as well as calcium, iron and magnesium. 

Brussels (love them or hate them) are a great food to fight inflammation, and they can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – not just as a Sunday roast accompaniment. This one-pan dish recipe from Delicious magazine takes the ordinary and elevates it to an exciting new level.

Recipe: Roast Brussels sprouts with caramelised onions and baked eggs

Ingredients for 4 servings:


Whether you’re contemplating eating seasonally to lower your carbon footprint or just want to make a few small changes to your eating habits, there are a variety of delicious anti-inflammatory ingredients available, including fresh vegetables to help with arthritis. It’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so explore your options and find what works best for you.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you have some anti-inflammatory recipes featuring seasonal vegetables you’d like to share? Head over to our Facebook community page Together For Better Days, a platform featuring holistic health tips for people living with chronic pain, as well as those supporting them.

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