Knee Pain is on the Rise: Superfoods Can Help the Slow the Trend

Knee pain is on the rise in the US, and it is a serious issue that can massively hinder your everyday activities. You might think that the only solutions are surgery, strong painkillers, or physiotherapy. While all of these measures can be effective, there’s another solution that’s often neglected.

Reduce Knee Inflammation With Superfoods

A diet that’s rich in certain superfoods has all sorts of potential benefits that work to reduce knee pain. These benefits include:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased calcium levels
  • Stronger cartilage in the joints
  • Reduced pain and swelling
  • Better weight management

Ready to find out exactly what a sort of diet includes superfoods? I’ve listed some of the best superfoods for reducing knee pain, along with details on why they work – plus a few serving suggestions, in case you’re stuck for ideas. Could changing your diet really reduce your knee pain? There’s only one way to find out.

15 of the Top Superfoods

  • Gelatin
  • Goji berries
  • Green tea
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Flaxseed
  • Olive oil
  • Oily fish
  • Watermelon
  • Spices
  • Garlic
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Turmeric/Curcumin


Gelatin – it’s the animal-based gelling agent that’s often found in chewy sweets, jellies, and marshmallows.

molded cranberry relish uses gelatin

Molded cranberry relish uses gelatin; cranberries are high in antioxidants too

It might not sound like a traditional superfood, but gelatin has been shown to have some pretty impressive benefits.

One knee pain study showed that patients with osteoarthritis of the knee who took a daily gelatin supplement saw improvements in pain, stiffness, and mobility.

The supplement also contains calcium and vitamin C, both of which may have played a part in the results. To be on the safe side, try to incorporate plenty of calcium and vitamin C into the superfood diet, as well as gelatin.

You could eat a gelatin-containing yogurt to stock up on calcium, or enjoy an orange jelly with fresh orange pieces for vitamin C.

If you’re not keen on gelatinous foods, pick up a supplement instead.

Goji Berries

Goji Berries

This tiny berry is packed full of antioxidants and nutrients – it’s perfect for the superfood diet. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, but there’s also plenty of recent evidence showing its benefits. Because they contain so many antioxidants, goji berries can help reduce inflammation, which helps lessen knee pain.

They’ve also been shown to boost mood and energy. Since a lack of physical exercise and obesity can contribute to knee discomfort, any food that raises energy levels is a good choice. It’s easy to add goji berries to your regular meals – you could sprinkle them on top of porridge, add to smoothies, or include in your favorite trail mix recipe. Goji berries can interact with drugs used to treat diabetes and blood pressure, so always ask your doctor before introducing them to your diet.

Green Tea

Green tea as superfood

Green Tea is a favorite among Japanese, who live longer than people in most other countries

Okay, so this is more of a ‘super drink’ than a superfood, but it’s definitely worth looking into as part of the superfood diet. It’s been found that a compound in green tea, known as EGCG, can inhibit the molecules that contribute to inflammation and joint damage.

In simple terms, it helps reduce swelling and pain – which is exactly what you want when suffering from knee discomfort.

Green tea can be an acquired taste, and some people find it too bitter. If that’s a problem for you, don’t worry. Try one of these alternatives to drinking plain green tea:

  • Choose flavored blends
  • Use green tea powder in smoothies
  • Take green tea supplements

Green tea does contain caffeine, so be aware of this if you plan to consume it before bed, or if you consume other caffeinated drinks regularly.

Sweet potatoes

All potatoes contain vitamin C, potassium, and calcium – all of which are great for reducing joint pain. So why are sweet potatoes so special? Cyanidin is an antioxidant that’s only found in sweet potatoes (specifically the purple kind).

It’s been shown to protect the body from toxins in the digestive system, which helps reduce inflammation. Carotenoids are another bonus that you’ll only get with sweet potatoes. These are precursors to vitamin A, which has strong antioxidant properties.

If you’re already eating regular potatoes, swapping them for sweet potatoes shouldn’t be hard.

You could try eating:

  • Baked sweet potatoes with fillings
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Curry with sweet potato
  • Sweet potato mash
  • Sweet potato and vegetable soups

The possibilities really are endless, and you’ll be enjoying loads of anti-inflammatory benefits with every meal.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Green Leafy Vegetables

Greens Leafy Vegetables Fresh Food Market

If your knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis, eating plenty of leafy greens as part of the superfood diet is a must. They contain high levels of magnesium, calcium, and carotenoids, and help stop cartilage from breaking down. Wondering which greens are best?

Here’s some inspiration to get you started:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce

It’s easy to throw together a salad using the greens, but there are plenty of ways to sneak them into other meals too. Try adding kale or spinach to homemade soups, steaming broccoli as a side to roast dinners, or including cabbage in stir-fries. If you really want to embrace the superfood diet, try whipping up a green smoothie to drink at breakfast.


Avocado fruit and pit with guacamole

Not just for hipsters, avocado has so many benefits that it’s hard to know where to start. Avocado is a great source of essential fatty acids, which help promote healthy cartilage cells. Unlike other ‘fatty’ foods, the fats contained in avocados are good for you, so there’s no need to worry about negative side effects.

They’re also packed with vitamin K, which increases the absorption of calcium, helps prevent osteoporosis, and promotes strong bones. The fiber in avocados boosts healthy digestion, which helps reduce inflammation throughout the body – including in the knees.

Wondering how to include avocado in the superfood diet? Luckily, they’re extremely versatile and easy to prepare.

Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Mashed with salt, pepper and olive oil on toast
  • Chopped up and added to salad
  • Blended into chocolate smoothies (so creamy!)
  • Guacamole and carrot sticks
  • Added to sandwiches

Try avocado once, and it could soon become a staple of the superfood diet that stops your knee pain in its tracks.


flaxseeds image

Flaxseed is recommended by several arthritis organizations, and there’s a good reason why. This little seed contains omega-3, omega-6, and essential fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation and swelling.

It has been shown to lessen the symptoms of arthritis by helping to lubricate the joints and reduce stiffness. But how do you incorporate it into the superfood diet?

There are a few ways, and I’ve got details for you below:

  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed onto meals – e.g., porridge, soup, pasta
  • Include ground flaxseed in smoothies – ideal if you want to boost your fruit intake at the same time
  • Cook with flaxseed oil
  • Drizzle flaxseed oil over salads
  • Take a supplement containing flaxseed

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, this superfood is definitely one to check out. Many of the positive elements in flaxseed are usually found in fish – but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

Replace fish oil with flaxseed oil, and you’ll see many of the same benefits. Flaxseed can act as a blood thinner, so be sure to consult your doctor before consuming it if you’re currently taking blood pressure medication.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that will help reduce your knee pain. It’s considered healthier than other oils, since it’s fairly low in saturated fats, making it ideal if weight plays a role in your knee discomfort. There are various different types of olive oil, and they vary in cost and quality.

Regular olive oil is the cheapest and most highly-processed, while virgin and extra virgin oils are less refined. These less-refined oils contain biologically active compounds that can help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. It’s best to use extra-virgin olive oil as a dressing or dip since it has a low smoke point and loses some benefits when heated. Virgin olive oil is better for cooking and frying, but you should avoid using too much. As with all oils, moderation is key.

The superfood diet is about being healthy, but you don’t have to avoid oils.

Oily Fish

oily fish, sardine, seafood, forage fish, herring, herring family, bony fish, salmon, ray finned fish

Various kinds of oily fish

Continuing the oil theme, did you know that eating more oily fish could reduce your knee pain? That’s right. Like flaxseed, oily fish contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which help stop pain and inflammation.

Wondering which fish are classed as ‘oily’?

Here’s a handy list to shed some light on things:

  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Anchovy
  • Pilchards
  • Sardines

To get the greatest health benefits from oily fish, you’ll need to buy them fresh. Over time, the oil contained in the fish deteriorates and loses nutrients – look for fish that are stiff, rigid, and don’t have a strong smell.

Fish that aren’t fresh will appear soft, with a strong scent. Prepare fish by grilling, baking, frying, or barbecuing. If you don’t have time, buy fresh fish and prepare them, pick up canned varieties instead. These won’t be as rich in fatty acids and oils but will still have plenty of benefits.

Canned fish is quick and easy to add to meals or salads, so there’s no excuse for leaving it out of the superfood diet you follow. Nowadays, most fish are farmed, and frankly, there are a fair number of problems associated with farmed fish. Oily fish can contain chemicals, antibiotics, and other toxins, so it’s best not to eat them too often.


We’ve talked a lot about smoothies – and watermelon is an excellent addition to any health-promoting blend. Like sweet potatoes, watermelon contains carotenoids, which are helpful in reducing your risk of arthritis. They’re also extremely high in water – more than 90% – making them a great choice if you struggle to stay hydrated or want to lose weight.

Staying hydrated plays a part in reducing the pain and inflammation that can affect the knees. Keeping your weight under control can also help reduce pain, so having low-calorie treat options like watermelon is really useful. Basically, watermelon is a great choice for anyone experiencing knee pain – and it’s delicious.

Try slicing it up and eating a whole slice as a handy snack when on the move, adding to fruit salads, freezing into ice cubes, or adding to savory salads. The possibilities are almost endless, and it’s a great option for warm summer days.


spices and herbs-for-natural-pain-relief

Adding spices while cooking is a great way to enhance the flavor of otherwise bland dishes. But spices aren’t just about flavor – they can play an important role in helping to reduce your knee pain. Read on to find out which spices you should include next time you’re cooking, and why.


It’s not just good for warding off vampires – it fights off knee pain too. Garlic contains diallyl disulfide, a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help reduce pain and swelling in the knees. It’s easy to add to most savory dishes – simply chop fresh garlic into small pieces and fry with onion or add to soups and stocks for a hit of flavor.


Dried cayenne pepper is a great spice to keep in the cupboard when following the superfood diet. Peppers are high in natural compounds called capsaicinoids, which, you guessed it, help reduce inflammation. It might not be convenient to keep fresh peppers around the house all the time, so cayenne makes a great alternative. It can be added in small amounts to meals, so don’t worry if you’re not keen on intense spice.

Try adding to soups, using to season fries, or mixing into curries.


Herbal remedy Turmeric root and powder

Turmeric root and dried powder

Many of you have heard about the many health benefits of turmeric. These benefits come from curcumin, the active chemical in turmeric root. Curcumin blocks inflammatory enzymes and helps reduce swelling. It’s absorbed better when eaten in combination with black pepper, so try to use both ingredients at once when you can – ideal for curries.

Foods to Avoid

If you have knee pain, then you want to avoid inflammatory foods as much as possible. This means cutting out processed food like prepackaged snacks and meals, sugars, and sugar alternatives, red meat, and fried foods, refined carbohydrates, cheese, high-fat dairy products, and alcohol.

Processed foods are full of trans fat that is used to preserve them. These trans fats can trigger inflammation in the body. You should also avoid omega-6 fatty acids like corn, peanut, sunflower, and soy oils because excess consumption of omega-6 fatty acids can lead to inflammation and can worsen arthritis and other knee and joint problems.

Red meat is high in saturated fats, which can cause high cholesterol and inflammation. Refined carbohydrates include white bread, pastas, and crackers. Not only can they cause inflammation, but they can also cause your blood sugar to spike as well.

Cheese and other high-fat dairy products are also high in saturated fats and should be consumed in small quantities. However, Greek yogurt may prove to be an anti-inflammatory as long as you are not allergic or sensitive to cow’s milk.

Alcohol is another thing that can trigger inflammation and can also lead to other health problems as well. To reduce inflammation, cut down on your alcohol consumption for up to six weeks, and see what a difference it can make.

Should You Adjust Your Diet to Include More Superfoods?

Are you sick and tired of knee pain? Then you need to try the superfood diet to reduce knee discomfort. Eating foods which promote healthy cells, prevent inflammation, protect against arthritis, and reduce pain is a no brainer, but can feel hard.

Try introducing one new superfood into your diet each day – before you know it, you’ll be eating them all regularly. Knee pain doesn’t have to be debilitating. With the right combination of diet and medical treatment, you can enjoy a pain-free life.

Click for the superfoods eBook here.

20 Superfoods to lose weight Book cover

20 Superfoods to lose weight and live longer

Superfood FAQ

What is the number one superfood?

Dark leafy greens may be considered the number one superfood because they are an excellent source of nutrients. Dark leafy greens contain a fair amount of folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, and fiber. They can also help reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

What foods make arthritis worse?

Inflammatory foods have the power to make arthritis worse. These foods included fried and processed foods, sugars, refined carbs, corn oil, alcohol, salt, and preservatives.

What cooking oil is the best for knee pain?

Canola oil is a healthy oil that is filled with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are both essential when it comes to fighting joint pains in the body.

How can I naturally lubricate my knees?

You can eat superfoods to help naturally lubricate your knees. For example, salmon, trout, olive oil, nuts, avocados, and supplements that are high in both omega-3 and DHA can help lubricate the knees while also decreasing inflammation and pain.

What is the best diet for knee pain?

If you have arthritis or knee pain in general, you want to have a nutritionally balanced diet that includes fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, garlic, ginger, broccoli, walnuts, berries, spinach, grapes, turmeric, and Vitamin C, just to name a few. Adding in superfoods and spices into your diet can help fight joint inflammation and pain. Green tea and berries, in addition to the other foods we listed, can also help reduce the rate of cartilage breakdown and strengthen the knees because they are high in antioxidants.