Will Certain Foods Help Heal Ligaments and Tendons?

Group of vegetables
Colorful produce, fish, walnuts and flaxseed promote tendon and ligament healing. (Image: Olga Bosnak/iStock/Getty Images)

Tendons are tough, flexible bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. Ligaments are similar bands that connect bone and cartilage to joints and organs. Healthy connective tissues support your ability to move, exercise and lift objects freely. Tendons and ligaments may be damaged by overuse, illness or injuries, such as tendinitis. In addition to medical treatments, physical therapy and rest, certain foods may help your ligaments and tendons heal.

Colorful Fruits

Fruit and Vegetable Market
Fruits provide essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. (Image: Dereje Belachew/iStock/Getty Images)

Fruits provide an assortment of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The antioxidant vitamin C, prevalent in colorful fruits, helps your connective tissues heal, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It may also help reduce inflammation associated with injuries and illnesses and strengthen your immune system's ability to protect you from infections and disease. Fruits particularly high in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, kiwi, black currants, cherries, guava, mangoes and papaya.

Vegetables

Close-up of assorted bell peppers
Red bell peppers are high in vitamin C. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Vegetables also provide rich amounts of protective nutrients, including vitamin C. Red bell peppers contain more vitamin C per serving than citrus fruits and other vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Additional valuable sources include tomatoes and tomato products, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and green bell peppers. Less colorful vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes -- with skin -- provide modest amounts of vitamin C.

Fatty Fish

Grilled salmon
Fatty fish are high in omega 3 fatty acids. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Fatty fish are prime sources of omega--3 fatty acids -- healthy fats that, in addition to promoting heart health, may reduce inflammation associated with connective tissues. For a study published in "American College of Rheumatology" in August 2009, Canadian postal workers with tendinitis received natural treatment, including an anti-inflammatory diet and dietary counseling, or participated in specified physical activities for 12 weeks. Researchers noted greater symptom improvements in participants who consumed the anti--inflammatory diet than in participants who did not. For potentially similar benefits, consume fish rich in omega--3 fats, such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder, mackerel, halibut and sardines.

Walnuts and Flaxseed

Flaxseed Down
Walnuts and flaxseed contain fiber which can help ease hunger. (Image: Shane Cummins/iStock/Getty Images)

Walnuts and flaxseed are of the few omega--3 fatty acid--rich plant-derived foods. Flaxseed contains significant amounts of fiber, which enhances satiation and may ease appetite. This attribute is important, because excess body weight may add strain to your ligaments, tendons and joints. For maximum potential benefits, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests grinding whole flaxseed within 24 hours of initial use, then storing what remains in your refrigerator. Enjoy walnuts and flaxseed on their own or incorporated into other dishes, such as cereals, smoothies, yogurt and baked goods.

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