Aches and pains got you down? If you struggle with pain often, eating more of certain nutrients could help you fight it off. Breeze through your busiest days ache-free with the foods listed below.
Carrots alleviate joint stiffness.
When you feel young at heart, but your knees, shoulders, or other joints start complaining, carrots can help! These versatile vegetables get their cheery orange hue from a compound called beta-carotene that’s also a study-proven anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Enjoy one cup daily, and Australian researchers say you could cut your joint pain by 45 percent in 10 days, plus heal in half the time if you develop a joint injury.
Avocados relieve backaches.
If your back has been a little achy lately, including one medium avocado in your daily diet could improve your mobility and flexibility by as much as 45 percent in one week, reveal researchers at Tucson’s University of Arizona. Thanks goes to avocados’ rich stores of inflammation-taming, tissue-healing plant compounds (oleic acid and carotenoids). Tip: Research proves the dark green parts of avocado that cling to the peel have the highest concentration of health-boosting antioxidants.
Salmon calms nerve pain.
Eating three servings of salmon weekly can dial down nerve pain by 33 percent in one week and speed your healing time by 55 percent if you’re achy because of an injury, Canadian scientists report. Salmon boasts healthy fats — EPA and DHA — plus an amino acid called L-arginine, and together these nutrients calm and heal damaged nerves. What’s more, they dilate blood vessels to allow nutrient-rich blood to reach tissues that need it.
Hot peppers halt headaches.
When a thudding headache hits, biting into a hot pepper–laced meal could provide as much relief as OTC painkillers, curbing symptoms by as much as 50 percent in 10 minutes. That’s the word from doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, who say the heat of hot peppers prompts the release of painkilling chemicals called endorphins.
Potato skins tame muscle tension.
Great news from researchers at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut: Savoring a medium-size baked potato each day (as long as you eat the skin) reduces your risk of chronic muscle tension and painful spasms by as much as 65 percent. Why? Potatoes are nature’s top source of potassium, a mineral that helps muscles contract properly and stay fully relaxed when not in use.
Cucumbers soothe stomach upset
Munching on one cup of fresh, juicy cucumber slices every day can lower your odds of abdominal cramps and stomachaches by 50 percent, British researchers report. Cucumbers are packed with a compound called salicylic acid that calms overactive pain nerves in the digestive tract. This unique compound also reduces inflammation in the lining of the stomach and small intestine, improving digestion.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.