What to Eat if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis: Fish is on the Menu

By Dr. Jill Weintraub

When I design recipes for people with rheumatoid arthritis, I start with the research. Then I synthesize the medical evidence through a “what to add, and what to remove from your diet” paradigm. High up on the “what to add” list are fish.  The oils in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and Arctic char are high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to decrease joint pain and morning stiffness in several controlled trials for rheumatoid arthritis. Below is a recipe that showcases Arctic Char, a good source of these fats, and currently on the “Best” list for safety at http://www.seafoodwatch.org.

This Mediterranean-inspired recipe combines Arctic char with pomegranate molasses, anti-inflammatory spices, mint, and sesame. The result is meltingly tender fish lightly burnished under a savory glaze over cumin-seeded lentils.

Arctic Char with Pomegranate-Sesame Glaze and over Minted Lentils

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses, this is available in many markets and online, or, substitute balsamic glaze

1 tablespoon of tamari sauce

2 teaspoons of honey

1 teaspoon of ground cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

Freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds of Arctic char filet, check www.seafoodwatch.org before buying, as the recommendations for safe fish frequently change

1 recipe of minted lentils , see recipe below

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, make the glaze. Combine the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tamari sauce, honey, cumin, ginger, and turmeric in a small bowl, and whisk until smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the glaze in a separate bowl.

Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper, and lay the Arctic char filets, skin side down, upon the paper. Brush liberally with the glaze.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and then disperse the toasted sesame seeds equally over both filets.  

Roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until a paring knife passes easily through the flesh of the fish, and they are burnished nicely with glaze.  Drizzle the remaining glaze over the fish. Serve hot, with the minted lentils.

Minted lentils

1 Cup of Organic Brown or French Puy (green) lentils

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

3 tablespoons of thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

Bring a small saucepan of water to boil, and add the lentils.  Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until soft. Turn off the flame, and mix in one teaspoon of kosher salt to the water and lentil mixture. Leave for three minutes, and then taste the lentils for seasoning.  If they require more seasoning, leave them for another two minutes in the salted water and then taste again.  Once the lentils are properly seasoned, drain them into a strainer. Wipe the saucepan clean. Return to the saucepan to the stove, add the olive oil and cumin seeds , and heat until the cumin seeds are fragrant, one to two minutes. Add the lentils and mint leaves, and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning, and serve with the fish.   

K-P Cooking Tips:

If you have heartburn or GERD, omit the mint from the lentils.

Dietary advanced glycation end products (dAGEs) are present in animal protein, especially red meat, as well as processed and fried foods, and are associated with inflammation and oxidative stress. Reduce dAGEs in your food by cooking with moist heat, using shorter cooking times, and combining animal proteins with acidic ingredients like lemon juice, or in this case, pomegranate molasses, or vinegar.

Pomegranates, as well as berries, black soybeans, forbidden rice, and black lentils are high in anthocyanin, a flavonoid shown to reduce rheumatoid arthritis activity in animal studies. Pomegranates also contain several additional antioxidants that may contribute to reducing inflammation in RA.

Lentils are an easily digested bean, high in fiber, and have prebiotic properties-they provide food and structure for the good bacteria living in your large intestine.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jennifer Weintraub says:

    Will definitely make this!

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