Norwich, UK—Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of most common disabling joint conditions affecting adults. Body mass index (BMI) and genetics are contributing factors, but what about diet? A new study has found that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help to prevent OA. 

The diets of 1,086 individual female twins (median age of 59) were analyzed by the study group and x-rays were used to scan the subjects for OA. Overall, researchers zeroed in on the connection between delayed onset of OA of the hip and a diet rich in vegetables from the allium family. Allium vegetables include garlic, onions, shallots and leeks among others. 

Garlic was specifically singled out due to its bioactive compounds. When it is crushed or chopped, an enzyme called alliinase is activated, which may prevent the breakdown of cartilage. Subjects in the study who reported consuming many non-citrus fruits and vegetables also reported consuming large amounts of alliums such as garlic, as well as cruciferous vegetables. These subjects also reported eating very low amounts of fried potatoes. 

Aside from the fact that the garlic seems to have played a role in prevention, eating a diet high and fruits in vegetables typically leads to a normal or low BMI, which is definitely a factor in preventing OA. On the whole, the twins’ BMIs showed that they were not obese.

Data from the study can be found in BMC Musculoskeletal Diseases.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2011 (online 1/26/11)