Which smoothie is for arthritis?

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, with the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis involves wear and tear damage to the cartilage in joints, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack the joints. Both lead to joint damage, pain, swelling and stiffness.

Arthritis is extremely common, affecting over 54 million adults in the US alone. As the population ages, rates of arthritis are expected to rise significantly in coming years. There is no known cure for most forms of arthritis – treatment focuses on managing symptoms through medications, physical therapy, exercise and nutrition. Making dietary changes is one way that many people try to ease arthritis symptoms.

Can smoothies help with arthritis?

Smoothies are blended drinks made from fruits, vegetables, dairy or dairy alternatives, and sometimes protein powders or supplements. They provide a convenient way to increase intake of beneficial nutrients that may help reduce inflammation and ease arthritis symptoms.

Research shows that certain foods and nutrients can have anti-inflammatory effects that may be helpful for arthritis:

  • Antioxidants – Found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, and greens. Antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium help reduce oxidative damage and inflammation.
  • Vitamin D – Important for immune regulation. Many people with arthritis have low vitamin D levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Found in fatty fish, walnuts, flax and chia seeds.
  • Polyphenols – Plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Found in apples, cherries, onions, tea, red wine.
  • Ginger – Shown to reduce inflammatory compounds linked to arthritis pain.
  • Turmeric – Contains the compound curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Smoothies provide an excellent opportunity to increase intake of these nutrients. Blending them also helps break down fiber, making the nutrients more bioavailable.

Research specifically looking at smoothies for arthritis is limited. But there is plenty of evidence showing the anti-inflammatory benefits of the foods and nutrients commonly used in smoothies.

Best foods and ingredients to use

When making a smoothie tailored for arthritis, some great ingredients to include are:


  • Berries – All types of berries are packed with antioxidants. Tart cherries are especially high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
  • Pineapple – Contains bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties. Also high in vitamin C.
  • Banana – Provides potassium, an essential mineral many arthritis medications deplete.
  • Mango – High in vitamin C and carotenoids like beta-carotene with antioxidant activity.
  • Papaya – Has digestive enzymes like papain that may have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Kiwi – High in vitamin C and antioxidants called flavonoids.
  • Melons – Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew contain vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene.


  • Spinach – Extremely nutrient dense and high in antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium.
  • Kale – Another leafy green packed with vitamins A, C, K and antioxidants.
  • Carrots – Rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
  • Beets – Contain compounds called betalains which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
  • Broccoli – High in vitamins C, K and folate, and the antioxidant sulforaphane.

Herbs, spices and other plants:

  • Ginger – Shown to reduce inflammatory chemicals linked to arthritis pain and symptoms.
  • Turmeric – Curcumin is its main active compound, with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Cinnamon – Contains antioxidants and has been found to reduce inflammatory cytokines.
  • Green tea – The polyphenols may limit cartilage damage and help reduce inflammation.

Healthy fats:

  • Avocados – Contain anti-inflammatory oleic acid and potassium.
  • Nuts and seeds – Sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3s and vitamin E. Try walnuts, chia and flax.
  • Olive oil – Provides oleic acid and antioxidant polyphenols.


  • Fatty fish – Salmon provides inflammation-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid if taking blood thinners.
  • Nuts and seeds – Provide plant-based protein plus healthy fats.
  • Greek yogurt – Provides protein plus gut-friendly probiotics. Choose unsweetened.
  • Collagen peptides – Some find this supplement helps strengthen joints over time.

Avoid pro-inflammatory foods like processed meat, fried foods, alcohol and refined carbs. Limit dairy if you have inflammation issues. Always rotate the fruits and vegetables you use to get a wide range of nutrients.

6 anti-inflammatory smoothie recipes for arthritis

Here are 6 smoothie recipes packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients:

1. Berry Tart Cherry Smoothie

  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Tart cherry juice is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins that help reduce inflammation. Berries, banana, spinach and yogurt provide additional nutrients and antioxidants.

2. Green Tea Smoothie

  • 1 cup green tea, cooled
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tbsp honey

The green tea provides polyphenols, while the pineapple is a source of bromelain. Banana, spinach and avocado contribute additional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients.

3. Turmeric Ginger Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 inch knob fresh turmeric, peeled
  • 1/2 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • Dash of cinnamon

Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon all have compounds that can help reduce inflammation. Greek yogurt adds protein.

4. Green Detox Smoothie

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 inch knob ginger, peeled
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Kale provides antioxidants like quercetin, kaempferol and sulforaphane, while the cucumber and pineapple give you nutrients like vitamin C. Ginger adds anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Vegan Superfood Smoothie

  • 1 ripe medium banana
  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp almond butter

With antioxidants from mixed berries, spinach, flaxseed and chia seeds, this smoothie packs an anti-inflammatory punch. The almond milk provides vitamin E.

6. Mango Turmeric Smoothie

  • 1 cup mango chunks
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Dash of cinnamon

Mango provides antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene. Turmeric, cinnamon and orange juice add more antioxidants.

Tips for making smoothies for arthritis

Here are some tips for getting the most out of smoothies when living with arthritis:

  • Use frozen fruits and vegetables to make smoothies chilled and thick without needing ice.
  • Add healthy fats from avocado, nut butter, chia or flaxseeds to increase anti-inflammatory compounds that need fat for absorption.
  • Fresh ginger has more active compounds – use a 1 inch knob peeled and chopped for potency.
  • Maximize nutrients by drinking smoothies soon after making them.
  • Use a powerful blender for smooth texture and to break down fiber and release nutrients.
  • Make extra to have a smoothie stash ready to grab from the freezer.
  • Try adding collagen, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to increase anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Rotate ingredients regularly to get a variety of nutrients.

Potential benefits of smoothies for arthritis

Research has found a number of promising benefits that smoothies could offer people with arthritis:

  • Decreased inflammation – Blending fruits and vegetables frees up the natural anti-inflammatory compounds they contain.
  • Increased antioxidant intake – Fruits and veggies in smoothies provide antioxidants to reduce oxidative damage.
  • Improved hydration – Smoothies provide fluid, which is important for joint lubrication.
  • Healthy fats – Adding omega-3 rich foods may decrease joint stiffness and pain.
  • Weight management – Smoothies are a healthy meal option, which helps manage weight problems.
  • More nutrient absorption – Blending breaks down fiber and makes nutrients more bioavailable.
  • Convenience – Easy to make, portable, and provides quick nutrition for busy schedules.

Research confirms the anti-inflammatory benefits of foods commonly used in smoothies. While smoothies haven’t been directly studied for arthritis, they provide an easy way to get more of these helpful nutrients.

Precautions with smoothies for arthritis

Smoothies provide a convenient way to increase beneficial nutrients. But there are some precautions to be aware of:

  • Fruit and berry smoothies can be high in sugar. Moderate portions or balance with greens.
  • Raw leafy greens can interfere with some medications. Check with your doctor.
  • Add protein foods to help you feel fuller for longer.
  • Watch calories from additions like juices, nut butters and powders.
  • Some ingredients like ginger and turmeric may interact with medications like blood thinners.
  • Check produce for recalls, properly clean, and avoid wilted leaves.
  • Not a meal replacement – smoothies lack some nutrients best obtained from solid foods.

Talk to your healthcare provider and registered dietitian about the best smoothie ingredients and portions for your individual health needs.

Sample 1 week anti-inflammatory smoothie plan

To get you started, here is a sample 1 week plan for anti-inflammatory smoothies:


Green Tea Smoothie


Berry Tart Cherry Smoothie


Vegan Superfood Smoothie


Turmeric Ginger Smoothie


Mango Turmeric Smoothie


Green Detox Smoothie


Tropical Green Smoothie: 1 cup pineapple, 1 cup spinach, 1 banana, 1 kiwi, 1/2 cup coconut water

Having a different smoothie each day provides a variety of anti-inflammatory nutrients to give your body the best nutritional support.

The bottom line

Smoothies offer an easy way to significantly boost intake of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamins C and E, polyphenols, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids. While no studies have directly examined their effects on arthritis, research consistently shows the benefits of these nutrients for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Smoothies using fruits, veggies, healthy fats and spices like ginger and turmeric provide a delicious anti-inflammatory option. They can increase nutrient absorption and provide convenience for managing arthritis. Just be mindful of potential downsides like sugar content and interactions with medications.

Consider working smoothies into your routine as a healthy way to flood your diet with arthritis-fighting nutrients. But be sure to also eat plenty of solid whole foods as well. Smoothies make a great addition to an overall balanced diet and active lifestyle.

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