If you need another reason to enjoy some fruit every day, how about this: research suggests that a single yellow apple or a glass of orange juice each day may significantly reduce the risk of arthritis.
A University of Manchester, UK study found that nutrients in some fruits lowered the risk of developing inflammatory arthritis. The study monitored 25,000 participants, matching their intake of the nutrients with the incidence of the disease.
The research focused on specific compounds called carotenoids, fat soluble nutrients that produce the colors in carrots, pumpkins, and other yellow, orange, red, and deep green fruits and vegetables.
There are many types of carotenoids, not all of which proved to be equally effective at preventing arthritis. According to the Manchester study, carotenoids beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin were highly effective preventives, while other common carotenoids such as lutein and lycopene were not.
Beta-cryptoxanthin, which the body can convert to an active form of vitamin A, is known to boost both bone health an immune function. Persimmons, tangerines, and papayas are the fruits that provide the most beta-cryptoxanthin, though it is also plentiful in yellow apples, mangoes, grapefruit, peaches, and pineapples.
Many vegetables also deliver a healthy dose of this important nutrient. Peppers, pumpkin, and yellow squash are all good sources.
Zeaxanthin works as an antioxidant, which means it can help prevent and even repair cellular damage done by free radicals. Produced by the natural process of cellular oxidation, free radicals are chemically imbalanced molecules that scavenge and damage the cells with which they interact.
Free radical damage is implicated in almost every age-related health problem from arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease. The Manchester study results echoed scores of previous studies in concluding that antioxidant nutrients can be a powerful tool in preventing age-related illnesses.
Zeaxanthin is abundant in green leafy vegetables but is also found in most orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Other research indicates that fruits and other foods containing vitamin C could also be useful in preventing the development of arthritis. Studies reported in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease journal indicated that the research participants who consumed the least vitamin C were roughly three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the most.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C are believed to play a large role in it’s effectiveness at preventing rheumatoid inflammation. It is also known to be important to the production of collagen, a compound crucial to joint health.