Beta-Cryptoxanthin in Produce May Cut Arthritis Risk

Antioxidant Potential of Carotenoids in Certain Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is good for your general nutrition, but can they also help cut your risk of arthritis? There have been a number of studies that suggest a whole-food, plant-based diet could reduce the risk of inflammatory forms of arthritis. Further research may eventually lead to drugs based on the substances found in antioxidant-rich foods.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you enjoy colorful fruits and vegetables, and the more the better. You will enjoy better nutrition in general from all of their components, including vitamins and fiber.

Fuyu Persimmon on Tree
Giordano Trabucchi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Do Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Arthritis Risk?

The evidence that there are specific benefits for specific carotenoids is not yet settled, as different studies have yielded contradictory findings.

In a 2017 study of 217 study participants with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers found nearly one-quarter of the study reported an effect of diet on their arthritis symptoms. Blueberries and spinach, which both contain carotenoids, were the foods most often associated with symtpom relief.

However, a study that matched rheumatoid arthritis patients and healthy controls that measured circulating levels of these carotenoids did not find a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis for those with higher levels.

While the Arthritis Foundation lists the best fruits and vegetables to eat for arthritis, the emphasis should be on enjoying a variety of them in your daily diet.​

What Is Beta-Cryptoxanthin?

Beta-cryptoxanthin is classified as a pro-vitamin A carotenoid. In the body, it can be converted to an active form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is recognized as being important for skin and bone health as well as immune function. Beta-cryptoxanthin is contained in yellow or orange fruits and vegetables. Here is a list of yellow and orange fruits and vegetables:

  • Yellow apples
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Yellow figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Golden kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Yellow pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapples
  • Tangerines
  • Yellow watermelon
  • Yellow beets
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Yellow peppers
  • Yellow potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabagas
  • Yellow summer squash
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Yellow winter squash

Fruits and Vegetables Highest In Beta-Cryptoxanthin

A small amount of foods have been found to be rich in beta-cryptoxanthin; those highest in beta-cryptoxanthin include tangerines, persimmons and oranges.

What Is Zeaxanthin?

Zeaxanthin is another carotenoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power. Food sources that are highest in zeaxanthin include green leafy vegetables, followed by corn and green peas.

What Should You Eat?

The Arthritis Foundation notes that there is no specific anti-inflammatory diet that people with rheumatoid arthritis should follow, but some foods found in a Mediterranean diet may help control inflammation. You should enjoy a diet rich in vegetables, especially the colorful ones that have a wide range of nutrients.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. The best foods to help relieve your joint pain.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  3. Tedeschi SK, Frits M, Cui J, et al. Diet and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: survey results from a rheumatoid arthritis registryArthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017;69(12):1920–1925. doi:10.1002/acr.23225

  4. Hu Y, Cui J, Sparks JA, et al. Circulating carotenoids and subsequent risk of rheumatoid arthritis in womenClin Exp Rheumatol. 2017;35(2):309–312.

  5. Burri BJ. Beta-cryptoxanthin as a source of vitamin A. J Sci Food Agric. 2015;95(9):1786-94.

  6. Burri BJ, La Frano MR, Zhu C. Absorption, metabolism, and functions of β-cryptoxanthinNutr Rev. 2016;74(2):69–82. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv064

  7. American Optometric Association. Lutein & zeaxanthin.

  8. Arthritis Foundation. Mediterranean diet for osteoarthritis.

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.