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Eating Fish is Good for Arthritis? Yes, But Not All Good Because of Mercury

Savannah Clark's picture
Why you should eat fish

About 1.5 million people in the U.S suffer from rheumatoid arthritis daily and are looking for a way to ease the joints during the day to day. Did you know that eating fish is good for arthritis?


What is rheumatoid arthritis?

I had heard this name in reference to a few people in my life but never really knew what it was. I knew that it had to do with their joints, it was painful, and there wasn’t really a whole lot they could do about it. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where, instead of protecting the body, the immune system attacks the joints instead. This constant attack creates inflammation in the tissue that lines your joints, called the synovium.

Typically, the synovium creates fluid that greases the joints and causes them to move smoothly and without pain. Because of the inflammation however, the synovium membrane thickens and there is a build-up of fluid causing the joints a lot of pain and limited movement. There are a few natural remedies that can help alleviate pain, like getting some exercise and comfrey root, but did you know that eating fish is good for arthritis?

Why eating fish is good for arthritis

According to a new study done by the people of Arthritis Care & Research, people with rheumatoid arthritis who ate fish at least twice a week reported less pain and swelling than people who rarely or never ate fish. This is good news for seafood lovers because it appeared the more fish they ate the less active their auto-immune disease was.

Now, there have been studies done before on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids but this was the first study done looking at the actual consumption of fish. The reason that fish can help suppress symptoms of RA is the DHA and EPA contained in the omega-3s found in fish, these two components work to suppress the protein that triggers the immune response. While not a cure for it, just helping to relieve the symptoms and pain can be a huge help to those suffering from RA.

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Good news for fish eaters

Eating fish isn’t all good though. You have to be careful of your mercury intake. Eating fish is good for arthritis but it could be detrimental to other aspects of your health if you aren’t careful. Fish smaller in size tend to be lower in mercury content. Here is a list of fish high in DHA and EPA but low in mercury:

  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Canned Sardines
  • Anchovy
  • Black cod
  • Albacore tuna

There are quite a few options on this list so don’t hesitate to experiment and try new recipes, remember eating fish is good for arthritis so this is all for science. Check out this heart and joint healthy salmon recipe to get you started:

Pappardelle with Asparagus and Salmon

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minuets
Serves: 4


  • 3/4-pound salmon fillets
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for mister
  • 1/2 pound pappardelle (wide-ribbon pasta)
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 4 lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Season salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Using a mister, spray fish with olive oil. Heat a pan over medium-high heat; sear fish, flesh side down, for 8 minutes or until nearly cooked through. Remove to a plate, skin side down, and cover with foil.
  2. Cook pasta; drain, return to pot, keep warm.
  3. Heat oil in pan; sauté shallot and asparagus 2 minutes, until beginning to brighten. Add broth; lower heat to medium, cover, and cook 3 minutes. Add peas, cover, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in sour cream, onions, mint, and dill; lower heat to simmer. Add remaining salt and pepper.
  4. Add sauce to pasta; toss. Remove skin and flake salmon into large chunks; add to pasta and toss gently. Divide among 4 bowls.
  5. Garnish with additional herbs and lemon wedges.