I've ummed and ahh-ed a little about posting this as it's a tricky topic and I don't really want to worry anyone. However, heart health often gets overlooked in arthritis.
Those of us with inflammatory arthritis are at a potentially increased risk of cardiovascular disease because of the systemic inflammation in our bodies. Luckily, the same medications that reduce our joint inflammation can help reduce our heart risk. For those with osteoarthritis, the risk is more to do with difficulties taking exercise or managing weight. For both types of arthritis, the best prevention is keeping your weight healthy, eating well, taking gentle exercise and getting your GP to keep an eye on your blood pressure, waist circumference and cholesterol levels.
There are also lots of ways your diet can help keep your heart healthy:
1. Eat plenty of omega 3 - from oily fish, linseeds (or flax), almonds and walnuts with the added bonus that it's great for your joints and brain too
2. Avoid saturated fat - in meat, butter and dairy. Instead choose lower fat options, lean cuts of meat and limit your serving size
3. Enjoy healthy fats - try olive oil and rapeseed oil for cooking and dressings
4. Fill up on fibre - eat pulses, beans, whole grains and plenty of fruit and vegetables
5. Avoid empty calories - cut back on sugary foods and alcohol
6. Watch your salt intake - try seasoning food with herbs, spices, lemons, limes and vinegars instead
All of the recipes on this site (other than the treats) are based on these principles. Generally, what is healthy for arthritis is also healthy for your heart so you can enjoy the arthritis-friendly recipes knowing they are good for all of you, not just your joints.
For more information, visit the Arthritis Foundation, WebMD (for RA and heart disease info), Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Association and the British Heart Foundation. Lene Andersen (who writes the great blog The Seated View) also produced a helpful article on Health Central about the issue here.