Our knees do so much for us. Without them, it would be impossible to walk or climb up stairs or even just move around. Needless to say, keeping them strong is important. As a type of joint, the knee connects the upper and lower leg bones. It creates a hinge-like movement that’s needed for daily activities. The knees also support the body’s weight; the stronger they are, the better.
Regular physical activity can make this happen. Simple workouts, like walking or biking, are great for your bones and joints. Leg exercises with or without weights will also help.1 Why stop there? With the right diet, you can improve knee and joint strength from inside out. Start with these seven foods.
Foods To Strengthen Your Knees And Joints
1. Milk Is Rich In Calcium
Milk has rich calcium content, a mineral needed for strong and healthy bones. An 8-ounce glass offers 300 milligrams of calcium, about a quarter of the daily recommendation. Adult men need 1,000 milligrams a day, while adult women need 1,200 milligrams. Most Americans get their calcium from dairy.2 But if you’re lactose intolerant, there are other options. But plant-based milk made with almond, soy, and coconut are often fortified with calcium.
2. Yogurt Is A Splendid Source Of Calcium
Yogurt is another excellent source of calcium. An 8-ounce serving has 415 milligrams, more than a glass of milk.3 To keep it healthy, choose low-fat plain yogurt. The flavored “fruit on the bottom” kind is full of sugar. You can add fruits, honey, and nuts for extra flavor. You can even mix it with calcium-fortified cereal for a joint-friendly snack.
3. Leafy Greens Are A Healthy Source Of Calcium
Did you know that some leafy greens have calcium? Plants in the kale family are top sources. Broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and mustard greens are tasty examples. In half a cup of cooked bok choy, you’ll get 79 milligrams of calcium.4 Leafy greens also have vitamin K, an anti-inflammatory nutrient, which is perfect for soothing swollen joints. Vitamin K is also needed by proteins in the bone and cartilage, so it helps to get enough.5 To enjoy leafy vegetables, use them in salads, sandwiches, or pasta.
4. Brussels Sprouts Prevent Cartilage Damage
While you’re shopping for produce, pick up Brussels sprouts. These tiny cabbage-like veggies have sulforaphane, an anti-inflammatory compound. It’s been found to prevent cartilage damage, so eat up! If you’re not crazy about Brussels sprouts, sulforaphane is also found in cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.6
5. Salmon Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Seafood lovers will be happy to know that salmon benefits the knees. It’s high in anti-inflammatory omega-3, a “good” fat that reduces joint pain and tenderness.7 Salmon also offers vitamin D, a nutrient linked to improved knee osteoarthritis. Deficiency, on the other hand, can actually worsen symptoms.8 Not a fan of salmon? Enjoy fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and trout.
6. Oranges Are A Great Source Of Vitamin C
Oranges are a surprising food for knee health. They’re a top source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that prevents bone reduction. It also reduces bone marrow lesions, a major factor of knee osteoarthritis. But don’t limit yourself to oranges as all fruits will lend a hand.9 Strawberries, kiwi, and grapefruit also provide vitamin C.10
7. Almonds Act As An Antioxidant
Almonds are packed with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. It’ll soothe inflammation by fighting oxidative stress, which prevents conditions like osteoarthritis from getting worse.11 Snacking on almonds might even help with weight control. They’re packed with protein, so they’ll keep you satisfied in between meals.12 By avoiding weight gain, your knees will be less stressed.
For optimal knee health, wear supportive shoes. Choose footwear that’s comfortable and fits well. Happy feet equal happy knees!
|↑1||Questions and Answers about Knee Problems. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.|
|↑2||Calcium. Oregon State University.|
|↑3, ↑4||Calcium. Oregon State University.|
|↑5||Harshman, Stephanie G., and M. Kyla Shea. “The role of vitamin K in chronic aging diseases: Inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis.” Current nutrition reports 5, no. 2 (2016): 90-98.|
|↑6||Eat Right for Your Type of Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑7||Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑8||Alkan, Gokhan, and Gurkan Akgol. “Do vitamin D levels affect the clinical prognoses of patients with knee osteoarthritis?.” Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Preprint (2016): 1-5.|
|↑9||Wang, Yuanyuan, Allison M. Hodge, Anita E. Wluka, Dallas R. English, Graham G. Giles, Richard O’Sullivan, Andrew Forbes, and Flavia M. Cicuttini. “Effect of antioxidants on knee cartilage and bone in healthy, middle-aged subjects: a cross-sectional study.” Arthritis research & therapy 9, no. 4 (2007): R66.|
|↑10||Vitamin C. Oregon State University.|
|↑11||Sutipornpalangkul, Werasak, Noppawan P. Morales, Keerati Charoencholvanich, and Thossart Harnroongroj. “Lipid peroxidation, glutathione, vitamin E, and antioxidant enzymes in synovial fluid from patients with osteoarthritis.” International journal of rheumatic diseases 12, no. 4 (2009): 324-328.|
|↑12||Protein. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|