7. Cheese. Hard or soft, fresh or ripened, cheese in all its variety is an excellent source of calcium for bones, and protein for muscles and other joint-supporting tissues. Depending on type, cheeses (especially hard varieties such as cheddar and Colby) are also a good source of vitamin B6 and folate. The sheer abundance of cheeses makes it easy to get more in your diet — by, for example, slicing hard cheeses onto crackers or grating them into casseroles, or spreading soft cheeses such as cottage cheese or Brie onto fruits or vegetables.
Grease your grater. When you have arthritis, grating cheese is hard enough without the grater becoming clogged. To make the job easier, give the grater a light coating of oil, which keeps the cheese from sticking and makes it easier to rinse the grater clean.
Lengthen shelf life. Hard cheeses that are well wrapped and unsliced can last up to six weeks in the refrigerator. (Chilled soft cheeses are best used within a week.) To make cheese last even longer, throw it in the freezer, but expect thawed soft cheese to separate slightly and hard cheese to be crumbly — ideal for melting into casseroles and sauces but not as good for nibbling.
Let it warm. Cheese tastes best when served at room temperature, so if you’ve been storing it in the refrigerator, take cheese out and let stand at least one hour before serving to enjoy its full flavor.
Have a daily cheese platter. Healthy eaters know that every dinner table should have a plate of fresh raw vegetables in addition to all the prepared foods. Consider adding a large hunk of cheese to the platter each night, along with a knife. Sitting there in front of you, it’s hard to resist slicing a piece off a few times to round out the meal.
8. Lentils. These dried legumes, with their rainbow of earthy colors, are prime sources of folate, with a single cup providing about 90 percent of your daily needs. But lentils also provide one of the richest plant-based sources of protein, contain large amounts of soluble dietary fiber, and hold significant stores of vitamin B6. These and other nutrients make lentils protect the body against heart disease and cancer in addition to arthritis.
Try a few soups. Not many people know a lot of lentil recipes. The most common usage — soup — is probably the best place to start for those new to the food. You might be surprised at how easy and tasty lentil soups can be. Add cooked lentils to water or broth, chop in carrots, celery, onions, and a lean meat, add some simple herbs and seasonings, and you are well on your way to a great meal.
Buy in bags. Though sometimes sold in bulk from bins, it’s best to buy lentils in plastic bags, preferably with most beans shielded from light. Reason: Exposure to light and air degrades nutrients (especially vitamin B6) and open bins invite contamination by insects.
Pick the best beans. Even bagged products aren’t pristine: Sort through lentils before you use them by spreading them on a baking sheet and picking out those that are shriveled or off-color, along with any small stones that may have gotten mixed in. After that, there’s no need to soak, but you should swish beans in a water-filled bowl, discard any floaters, and rinse under cold water in a strainer before cooking.
Minimize gas. Thoroughly drain lentils before eating or adding to other dishes: Beans are famous for causing gas due to sugars they contain that the body can’t digest, but these sugars are soluble in water and leach out when lentils are cooked.
9. Green tea. This mild, slightly astringent tea contains hundreds of powerful antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols and has been cited for helping prevent problems ranging from cancer to heart disease. But studies also suggest green tea may help prevent or ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In one study of induced arthritis in mice, green tea cut the disease onset rate almost in half, and follow-up studies by the same researchers, at Case Western Reserve University, in Ohio, show promise in humans.
Boil water briskly. Tea tastes best when water is at the boiling point, which allows tea to release its flavorful compounds quickly. Water that’s cooler than that tends to release flavors more slowly, weakening the tea.
Keep steeping short. Let tea steep in hot water for about three minutes — and no longer than five. This brief steeping time allows tea to acquire a full-bodied flavor and release its nutrients, but withholds compounds that make tea taste bitter.
Get a bag bonus. Tea purists favor the fresher flavor of loose tea, but some experts suggest that tea bags release more beneficial nutrients because smaller, ground-up particles expose more of the tea leaves’ surface area to hot water.