When you have rheumatoid arthritis, building your diet around foods that help curb the inflammatory response is important, but that’s easier said than done – especially when it comes to desserts.
While everydayhealth.com says there’s no magic-bullet food that will slow down the condition’s progression, but healthy choices will keep your body properly fueled so you can decrease your chances of rheumatoid arthritis-associated illnesses, such as heart disease. By selecting small-portion, low-calorie desserts, you can get the nutrition you need while still satisfying that sweet tooth, said Scott Zashin, MD, a rheumatologist in Dallas.
Here are a few yummy dessert ideas you can feel good about.
1. Fruit salad. Fruit contains different anti-inflammatory compounds. Toss your salad with a variety of delicious produce, like oranges and strawberries, said Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, LD, an assistant professor in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who also has RA.
2. Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate can be a great dessert choice, but not all bars are created equal. To take advantage of chocolate’s anti-inflammatory properties, you need to aim for chocolate that has a high percentage – at least 60 percent to 70 percent – of cacao, which is what actually provides the sweet’s health benefits. “Go for a dark chocolate that’s finer, darker, and with a higher percentage of cacao,” said Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, a spokeswoman at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
3. Yogurt with berries and granola. This treat is full of protein and antioxidants, Sandon said. Buy plain, low-fat yogurt to avoid the high sugar levels of flavored snacks. If you don’t want granola, opt for a handful of heart-healthy nuts like walnuts or almonds, both of which offer omega-3 benefits – nutritious fats that reduce inflammation.
4. Cottage cheese with berries and cinnamon. Just like yogurt desserts, this treat offers a healthy dose of protein from the cottage cheese. Plus, research shows that cinnamon can help protect against inflammation and high cholesterol, according to a review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
5. Pineapple upside-down cake. Pineapple is a great anti-inflammatory food, and pineapple upside-down cake is usually a midrange calorie choice if you stick to a 2-inch portion size, said Ruth Frechman, MA, RD, a spokeswoman at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
6. Yogurt with banana and curry. This unique dessert provides a sweet treat with an added anti-inflammatory boost from the Indian spice curry, Frechman added.
7. Cherry cobbler. Similar to pineapples, cherries are RA foods that can pack a healthy anti-inflammatory punch, Frechman said. Eat a small serving of cobbler, which has less crust than pie.