Say "C" to Stave Off Arthritis

By Celia Shatzman

Eating vitamin C–rich foods may protect your knees from osteoarthritis, reports a recent study in Arthritis Research & Therapy. Here’s why: They’re packed with antioxidants, which protect cells from oxidative damage, and oxidative damage breaks down cartilage—the “shock absorber” in the knee joint. Vitamin C slows down deterioration by strengthening cartilage and reducing inflammation in the joint. “To get the full benefits, eat food with lots of vitamin C on a daily basis,” says Marissa Lippert, MS, a dietitian in New York City. But oranges have stolen the vitamin C spotlight for far too long. Here’s how to sneak the top five runner-ups into your diet:

Papaya. Boasting 300 percent of the daily recommendation per serving, this vitamin C superstar is delicious in a smoothie: Blend papaya chunks with a frozen banana, ice, and 1/3 cup of 100 percent pineapple juice.

Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers. Cut into strips and dip in hummus for a healthy snack; or roast the peppers and use them as a colorful topping for grilled chicken or salmon.

Broccoli. Sauté for 10 minutes with olive oil and garlic, and toss with whole-wheat pasta.

Brussels Sprouts. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes for an easy side dish.

Strawberries. Toss into cereal, salads, or smoothies. Or drizzle strawberries with balsamic vinegar for a dessert.