Healthy Living

Eat More Fish for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Study Says

Eat More Fish if You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Study Says

Fish is a healthy food for many reasons. So why should you be compelled to eat fish? Will it help? There are other reasons that this food may alleviate your symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. There are many questions about fish consumption and the disease. For example, how many times a week should fish be consumed? Are there certain types of fish that are better than others? Research and scientific studies have been searching for answers to these questions.

Background on fish and health

Fish is a high protein and low-fat food. Certain fish, such as white fleshed fish are lower in fat than other proteins. Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered good fats for the body. These omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for many reasons. The main health benefit is maintaining cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular health is improved by the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction. Omega-3 acids are important for prenatal development. They may reduce tissue inflammation and help those with an irregular heartbeat. There have been some signs that omega-3s reduce depression and halting mental decline in older people. With all this information, it is clear omega-3 acids play a vital part in health conditions.

Health benefits for rheumatoid arthritis patients

Knowing about fish generally is great, but you might wonder how fish and this disease react. A recent study found that eating more fish does help with rheumatoid arthritis. The investigators took a cross-sectional analysis of the participants. They created a baseline obtained from participants. The baseline was a questionnaire on their fish consumption over the past year. Their general health and disease rating were also considered. The study adjusted for relevant factors including sex, body mass index, age marital status, medication use, and depression. They also tailored the study with information about fish oil use. It was found that consuming fish at least twice a week had lower scores than those that consumed fish once a month or less. In fact, quantity plays a significant role. Each extra serving of fish resulted in an eighteen percent reduction. By contrast this reduction was considered about one third of the medicinal study reduction. They also found that it helped lower disease activity for the patients. The findings were encouraging on the positive benefits of eating fish.

Best types of fish

Now that fish has been confirmed as helpful, let’s focus on types of fish. White fish has been noted for its healthy properties. In specific, oily fish is the best target. One of the best fish options to eat is wild salmon from Alaska. This fish has a lot of oil, which is high in omega-3s. Like salmon, arctic char is also high in omega-3s. If you want to double the consumption of omega-3s, Atlantic mackerel is the fish you should choose. This fish is also high in vitamin B. Sardines and anchovies are fish that are primarily used as toppings. These also are high in omega-3 acids. Add them to your pizza or salad. Albacore tuna is a staple of the American diet. This is a fish many eat several times a week that has high omega-3 content. If those options do not appeal to you, sablefish and rainbow trout are other options to try.

Farm-raised or wild fish?

The next question for many fish eaters is whether fresh fish is healthier. It might also be costlier, making it less of an option for some people. In terms of omega-3s, generally the content of farm- raised and wild fish is similar. It may vary by fish though. There are some other concerns with farm raised fish, primarily with contaminants. Do research on the specific fish and which variety may be higher in omega-3 acids. If you can afford it, it might be worth the splurge. There is not currently any conclusive evidence that one type has better effects on rheumatoid arthritis over another.

Fish or fish oil?

Since harnessing the helpful properties of omega-3s is important, you should look for ways to incorporate them in your diet. For some, eating fish every day is not practical. This could be due to a dislike of the taste or because of the cost of fish as a more expensive food. Fish oil is noted to help with rheumatoid arthritis. So which option should you choose? The natural fish is going to have a varying amount of omega-3s. It depends on what fish you eat and the portion. When buying fish oil capsules, the oils come from both fish caught for human food and from small fish caught for animal feed. Fish oil is a more concentrated way to get your intake. Some personally find the capsules helpful, while others may prefer the food. For the most part, both options are due to personal preference. With eating fish, you want to be careful about fish based contaminants. PCB’s and lead are two such contaminants. The one difference between the two is that you must buy capsules that are made from purified fish oil. Portions are also critical to getting the benefits of fish. It is important to eat at least a serving of three ounces. If you eat less, it is not enough to reap the rewards.

Other helpful foods

Beyond fish, there are other foods that may impact rheumatoid arthritis. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and grains is a recommended. There is no food that is a cure for rheumatoid arthritis but there are many options that may help. If you are looking to supplement the same effects as fish, soy is your best next option. Soy is rich in omega-3s. You can eat soy in a variety of foods, including soybeans, edamame, and tofu. Spices are one option to help. Turmeric, ginger and essential oils all have been credited with helping rheumatoid arthritis. Fruit is another food group that has helpful nutrients. The best choices to help with RA are cherries and pomegranates. Citrus fruits may also help with inflammation. Tea, particularly green tea, is a food that might help with this disease. Like fish, grains are a pragmatic choice. Grains contain a C-reactive protein. There are several grains choices to incorporated into your diet. These include: oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals. Beans also contain folic acid and iron, which help rheumatoid. Parsley, oils, and vitamins are other alternatives to getting nutrients that are helpful for rheumatoid arthritis. These foods, alone or in combination with fish, can alleviate your swelling, inflammation and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The bottom line

Reading this article shows that you are invested in your health. By focusing on how to help rheumatoid arthritis, you have taken the first step. Review the content, quality, and types of fish that may help. Think of this as an opportunity. You can make new dishes and incorporate new foods into your diet. Besides helping your rheumatoid arthritis, you might even feel healthier and enjoy the new changes. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist if you have any concerns.


Santye, Lauren. "Eating More Fish Lessens Symptoms in Rheumatoid Arthritis." Specialty Pharmacy Times. Specialty Pharmacy Times, 03 July 2017. Web. 03 July 2017.