The body's immune system has a natural capacity to fight foreign bodies that enter it.
This defense mechanism helps the body survive against diseases.
This process gathers many defense cells and causes redness and swelling in the area which is termed as inflammation.
Inflammation is caused in numerous medical conditions.
Sometimes due to a malfunction in the body, the defense mechanism of the body attacks its own cells leading to inflammation which is seen in some cases of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis is one such condition where the joints are inflamed leading to swelling, pain and joint stiffness.
Arthritis symptoms can disable a person from performing day to day activities.
Dietary factors have been identified to influence the inflammation causing chemicals.
Certain foods can increase the chemicals and some others can decrease them.
Therefore, diet modification is one of the suggested non-medicinal therapies for arthritis.
Before we discuss the cooking oils that benefit arthritis, let us know some more about their composition, uses, and effects on inflammation.
Importance of Saturated, Polyunsaturated, Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Their Link with Inflammation in Arthritis
Fatty acids are components which are required by the human body to function in a normal way.
It is involved in producing energy, synthesis of hormones and formation of cell membranes of the body.
Fats are required for the absorption of vitamins in the body.
Fatty acids are classified into saturated fats and unsaturated fats based on their chemical structure.
Unsaturated fatty acids are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Saturated fats are a type of fatty acids that are mainly present in the animal-based products like meat and dairy products.
Saturated fats are considered to increase the risk of heart diseases is it is recommended to keep the intake of this type of fat at a lower level.
Saturated fats could have some negative effects on the inflammatory pathway in the body.
Scientific study also shows the increase in inflammatory chemicals in the body due to increased saturated fats.
However, conclusive evidence for the same has not yet been established.
Unsaturated fatty acids are generally considered favorable to the human body. Omega-3 fatty acids are proven in the reduction of inflammatory responses in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to integrate into the cell membranes which can lead to lesser inflammation-causing chemicals thus reducing inflammation in the body.
Omega-6 fatty acids may benefit from reducing inflammation, but there are also some research data stating the contrary.
Therefore, conclusive evidence in this matter has not yet been strongly established.
Best Cooking Oils to Reduce Inflammation in Arthritis
Best cooking oils to reduce inflammation in arthritis are the ones which contain high polyunsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, and canola oil are some of the excellent oils to use in cooking by arthritis patients. Some cooking oils are also validated in reducing joint pain, stiffness and improve the joint movement in arthritis patients.
1. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil has a history of use in the reduction of inflammation in the body. This can help in reducing chronic inflammation in arthritis patients.
Flaxseed oil contains 73% of PUFA and it is known to be an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
It is very well studied to be beneficial in reducing the inflammatory mediators and reduce the activity of immune system which affects the body’s own cells .
Guan-Yu Ren et al. conducted a meta-analysis (a type of research which reviews numerous clinical trials to arrive at a conclusion on a given topic) to study the effect of flaxseed on inflammatory markers, which revealed that flaxseed reduced these markers in obese patients.
How to Use
Flaxseed oil can be incorporated in the meals instead of consuming a specific amount of oil per day. Use ½-1 teaspoon oil per day.
It can be substituted with other vegetable oils in making food, used as salad dressings, and in baking. Avoid the use of this oil in frying as it is not heat-stable.
What does this mean? Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fats that has an exceptional record among fats in reducing inflammation by curbing the chemicals that cause the inflammation.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids called as oleic acid. It is known to confer anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit arthritis.
Clinical trials in arthritis patients show the effectiveness of olive oil in reducing the inflammation, pain, swelling and improving motility.
Olive oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which can reduce the damage to the cells of the joints.
The effect of olive oil on inflammation was studied by Lukas Schwingshackl et. al.
This study reviewed various research trials to strongly prove that olive oil exerts inflammation reducing effects by reducing the chemicals responsible for it.
Furthermore, animal studies have proven to reduce the swelling and halt the inflammatory process in arthritis.
How to Use
Olive oil can be utilized in food instead of using butter or margarine. It is best to use this oil at lower temperatures as it is not heat-stable.
What does this mean? Olive oil can be a wonderful choice for arthritis patients as it can reduce inflammation and alleviate their symptoms. It also promotes the detoxification in the body.
3. Walnut Oil
Walnut oil contains 54-64% of omega-3 fatty acids. It exhibits antioxidant properties that can help in reducing inflammation.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has suggested that walnut oil has good potential in reducing inflammation by reducing the lipid levels in the body.
Walnut oil works by inhibiting the enzymes that are involved in the formation of inflammatory chemicals.
Reducing pain and symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis are other perks of this oil. Animal studies have also proved the analgesic effect of this oil. However, research in this aspect is less prevalent.
How to Use
Walnut oil can be consumed along with vegetables. Add few drops of the oil to the vegetables or salads. Do not cook this oil as high temperatures can deteriorate the nutritive value of the oil.
What does this mean? Walnut oil can help arthritis patients by fighting inflammation, reducing pain and by providing antioxidant effects. High omega-3 fats are accountable for these effects.
4. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil can reduce inflammation in the body without the side effects which is otherwise caused by drugs used for this purpose. It protects the cells of the joints by preventing their destruction.
A review of 6 clinical trials found that avocado oil has great potential in reducing the symptoms of arthritis in patients suffering from arthritis of hip and knee.
Avocado oil reduces pain-killer usage among arthritis patients by reducing the pain, joint stiffness and improving joint movements.
An animal study reported that avocado oil holds properties that can partially reverse the inflammation in the body.
Other animal studies also support the presence of anti-inflammatory property of avocado oil.
How to Use
Avocado oil can be used for cooking, roasting, grilling, frying, sautéing etc. It can also be used as salad dressing and dips.
Avocado oil has a higher smoke point and can withstand slight higher temperatures when compared to olive oil.
What does this mean? Avocado oil is anti-inflammatory, analgesic and reduces the need for painkillers. It can help in increasing the daily activities by reducing the symptoms.
5. Canola Oil
Canola oil, also known as rapeseed oil, consists of a good content of PUFA and omega-3 fatty acids. Intake of canola oil has been proven by clinical trials in reducing inflammatory biochemicals.
Canola oil usage can help in reducing weight in obese patients which have been identified by some studies.
This can help in the management of arthritis as most arthritis patients are obese.
Animal studies have claimed the analgesic effects of canola oil. This effect can help arthritis patients if proven in human trials.
How to Use
Canola oil can be used in cooking, baking, and frying food. It can be used to stir-fry vegetables. It has better heat stability which enables this oil as a good option for cooking.
Canola oil can be used instead of butter or margarine. The oil consumption must be within 20g per day.
What does this mean? Canola oil is an excellent option for frying and cooking for arthritis patients as it is anti-inflammatory and helps in reducing weight.
6. Soybean Oil
Soybean oil has a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). It has a higher content of omega-6 fatty acids. This oil can be used to benefit arthritis patients.
Soybean oil reduces joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation in arthritis. This effect is well supported by clinical trials in humans.
Soybean oil reduces the inflammatory chemicals in the body which are proven via human trials. Animal studies have also added to the evidence on anti-inflammatory effects of soybean oil.
How to Use
Soybean oil can be used to fry foods at a low temperature as it is not stable at higher temperatures.
What does this mean? Soybean oil can help arthritis patients in reducing pain and joint stiffness. Research data also suggests that this oil reduced inflammation in the body.
7. Rice Bran Oil
Rice bran oil is low in saturated fat and contains the most ideal ratio of fats. This oil has been thoroughly studied on humans to identify their effects on inflammation and heart health.
In a trial conducted for 3 months on 80 human subjects, Haridas Upadya et. al. found that rice bran oil has inflammation reducing and antioxidant properties. This effect of rice bran oil has also been indicated by animal studies.
An animal study has also demonstrated that rice bran oil can reduce pain along with providing antioxidant benefits.
How to Use
Rice bran oil has good heat stability and it can be used for cooking, frying, and baking food.
What does this mean? Rice bran oil has a good composition of all fatty acids. It reduces inflammation in arthritis. It is also proposed to reduce pain, which needs confirmation from trials in humans.
8. Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil has abundant omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids along with monounsaturated fatty acids.
It is rich in vitamin E as well. Grapeseed oil has been researched to reveal its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In a clinical trial involving 44 patients, grapeseed oil reduced the inflammation-causing chemicals in the body.
Studies in animals also support the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of grapeseed oil.
How to Use
Grapeseed oil can be used in salad dressings. It is stable at high temperatures and can be used to cook vegetables.
What does this mean? Grapeseed oil which is rich in omega-3 fats benefits arthritis patients by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
9. Hempseed Oil
Hempseed oil is rich in PUFA and it contains a balanced amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These two together can reduce the inflammatory effects.
Antioxidant effect of hempseed oil can help in detoxification in arthritis patients.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven in reducing arthritic pain as well. Hempseed oil containing this PUFA can also impart this effect. However, more studies are required to evaluate the benefit of hempseed oil in arthritis patients.
How to Use
Hempseed oil can be used as cooking oil. It can be used as salad dressings, baking, and seasoning.
What does this mean? Hempseed oil has a balanced fatty acid profile that benefits arthritis by alleviating inflammation and improving detoxification.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains 91% of saturated fats and remaining fat is PUFA. Though it is less in PUFA it has been widely demonstrated by clinical trials in benefiting arthritis.
A study on healthy subjects has proven the anti-inflammatory effect of coconut oil. Along with that, it can also provide antioxidant and mild pain-relieving effects to arthritis patients.
Research data from animal models have proven the inflammation and swelling reducing properties of coconut oil along with its analgesic effects.
How to Use
Coconut oil can be used in cooking and baking. It is quite heat-stable and can be cooked in medium flame. 2 g per day intake of oil is advised to reduce inflammation.
As there is a controversy over the use of coconut oil and increased risk of heart disease and no conclusive evidence yet, it is best to keep the oil intake limited.
What does this mean? Even though coconut oil is rich in saturated fats it is confirmed by research as being beneficial to arthritis patients by reducing inflammation and providing antioxidant benefits.
11. Palm Oil
Even though palm oil contains high saturated fat content it is still beneficial in arthritis as it has proven anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies on human cells have confirmed the inflammation-reducing effects of palm oil. Nevertheless, more research data from clinical trials are required to strengthen this finding.
Animal studies on palm oil have found its anti-inflammatory effects by reducing the inflammatory chemicals in the body.
How to Use
Palm oil can be used in cooking and frying of foods. Palm oil can be heat to high temperatures without compromising its benefits.
What does this mean? Palm oil just like coconut oil is high in saturated fat and forms another exception in the oils that benefit arthritis. It is proven to reduce inflammation. However, more research data is needed to prove this effect.
12. Almond Oil
Almond oil contains high monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. These components are known to provide benefits for arthritis patients.
A clinical trial conducted in 48 human subjects revealed the healthful benefits of almond oil in reducing inflammation in the body.
Another clinical trial in 51 patients demonstrated the capacity of almond oil to decrease the inflammatory biochemicals. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of almond oil have been proven by animal studies.
How to Use
Almond oil can be used in making sauces, baking, and flavoring of food items.
What does this mean? Almond oil can reduce inflammation in the body. It is also capable of providing antioxidant benefits as it is rich in vitamin E content.
13. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil falls into the category of good fats and it can be used to reduce inflammation. It mainly consists of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Sesame oil was studied in healthy humans to study its anti-inflammatory effect which was proven to be positive.
Research has also explored and proved the antioxidant property of sesame oil that can be a crucial supplement to arthritis patients.
Along with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, sesame oil has also been demonstrated to reduce pain in animal studies. This effect has future potential in relieving joint pain in arthritis.
How to Use
Sesame oil is highly stable at high temperature, therefore, it can be used cooking meat and frying. It can also be used in salad dressing and sauces. 18g of oil per day can be helpful in reducing inflammation.
What does this mean? Sesame oil improves inflammation and reduces body toxins in arthritis patients. It is also suggested as an oil with the potential to reduce joint pain.
14. Safflower Oil
Safflower oil is a good source of omega-6 fatty acids which can also be advantageous in arthritis due to its inflammation reducing effects.
Research has found that using safflower oil can reduce chemicals called ‘prostaglandins’ and ‘leukotrienes’ that cause inflammation.
C-reactive protein is a moiety that is increased in the state of inflammation. This increase can lead to other diseases in the body. Safflower oil is proven to reduce this protein thus benefiting arthritis.
How to Use
Safflower oil can be used in cooking as salad dressing and in frying. It can be used at high temperature as it is heat stable. Avoid reusing this oil for frying food.
What does this mean? Safflower oil advantages in arthritis are due to its anti-inflammatory effects. It is known to reduce the chemicals that cause inflammation in the body.
15. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid. Oleic acid can be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects.
A trial conducted in 17 human subjects demonstrated the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties of macadamia nut oil.
Its anti-inflammatory properties are proven via animal studies too.
The research data on macadamia nut oil benefits in arthritis are very limited. Further studies and trials are necessary to establish this benefit.
How to Use
Macadamia nut oil can be used in baking, grilling, and frying. It has a higher smoke point and can be heated at high temperatures while cooking.
What does this mean? Macadamia nut oil can provide anti-inflammation and antioxidant benefits to arthritis patients. However, more research data is required to consolidate these benefits.
16. Peanut Oil
Peanut oil, also known as a groundnut oil, is rich in unsaturated fats and is beneficial in reducing inflammation. It is known to reduce the inflammatory chemicals just like other PUFA containing oils.
Animal studies have demonstrated the effect oil peanuts in reducing the inflammation, swelling in arthritis. Peanut oil can be used in the management and prevention of arthritis.
How to Use
Peanut oil can be used to deep fry or stir-fry food. Allergy to peanut is less likely in case of using refined peanut oil.
What does this mean? Peanut oil can reduce inflammation in arthritis as it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Its heat stability enables it to be used for frying and cooking food.
It is important to note that only anti-inflammatory property should not be the only criteria to select a cooking oil as it may cause other health issues too.
The above list should be your starting point to find a balanced oil.
Using these cooking oils with food is necessary as food helps in the emulsification of fat which can provide a better result of these beneficial oils.
Flaxseed oil must be avoided in pregnancy and in people with diseases of the intestine. Large amounts of oil must not be consumed as they are rich in fats and can increase body fat. Oil consumption must be in moderate quantities.
Some oils like flaxseed oil can interact with the usual medicines and therefore a physician or pharmacist advice must be taken before using these oils for therapy.
Certain cooking oil has a low smoke point i.e., they cannot be subjected to high temperatures, therefore they must not be used in frying. Examples of these oils are olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, walnut oil etc.
Reusing cooking oils for frying is not the best option as it can cause spoiling of the oil and generates cancer-causing chemicals.
If the oil needs to be used again then certain precautionary measures like straining and storing in a cool dark place.
Avoid re-using frying oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids as they have a higher chance of forming toxin chemical compounds that can harm the body.
Cooking oils are an essential component in food preparation. They provide the body with essential fats that are required by the cells.
Cooking oils can have an impact on inflammation and arthritis. In view of a variety of options for these oils , it is difficult to select the best oil.
An analysis of various research data reveals that oils which are containing high polyunsaturated fatty acids are good for reducing inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acid containing oils are regarded with highest benefits due to their research-proven capacity of reducing inflammatory chemicals in the body.
Rarely cooking oils without a high content of PUFA also benefit arthritis patients. Oils such as coconut oil and palm oil are examples of the same.
Some cooking oils such as avocado oil, soybean oil, olive oil, etc even help in the reduction of symptoms of arthritis and improve motility.
Cooking oils are an easy and affordable alternative to reduce inflammation in arthritis. Using these oils could prove to be an effective diet modification for arthritis.
These oils not only benefit arthritis but also takes care of your overall health.