Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 580,000 people in the UK. It is more common in women than men and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 70, although it can affect people of any age. The condition causes painful swelling of the joints as the immune system attacks cells lining the joints. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis there may be prevention and symptom relief in the form of fish.
A study from Sweden has found that altering your diet to include 1 portion of oily fish or 4 portions of lean fish every week may half the risk of a person developing rheumatoid arthritis. The ‘Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases’ published the study involving a questionnaire (about diet, height, weight, education) which was sent to thousands of women between the years of 1987 and 1990. The women were born between 1914 and 1948. In 1997 a follow up questionnaire was sent to those who remained alive (56,030), with additional questions about smoking, alcohol intake, exercise and supplements.
Of the women who developed rheumatoid arthritis 27% ate less than the recommended amount of fish a week. Women who consistently reported an intake exceeding 0.21g per day had a 52% lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Eating fish a few times a week for at least 10 years was linked to a 29% reduced risk of arthritis.
The study indicates that long chain n-3 (omega 3) PUFA’s has an important role in the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Other research has highlighted the benefits of eating fish. The University of London recently discovered omega-3 fatty acids may prevent skin and mouth cancers. Additionally it has been noted that population groups that have a diet high in fish, for example Inuits in Greenland, have low rates of inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
- Fresh tuna
- Dover sole
- Lemon sole
- Tinned tuna
- Red snapper
- Sea bass
- Sea bream
Plenty of choice of fish to include in your diet, so no excuses for not including some in your balanced diet.