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The Best Foods for Lupus

By Bethany Fong, R.D. ; Updated July 18, 2017

Lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects multiple body parts and organ systems. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, or LFA, lupus increases the risk of kidney problems, blood disorders, breathing difficulties, heart disease, muscle pain, cancer and infection. It can also affect vision and the nervous and gastrointestinal systems. Traditional treatments use prescription medications to control symptoms. Eating healthy foods as part of a nutritious diet can benefit overall health and help lower the risk of lupus complications.

Plant Foods

The Mayo Clinic encourages people with lupus to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients that benefit overall health and can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer and digestive disorders. Plant-based diets also support a healthy weight because they are naturally low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables are particularly high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body by destroying harmful substances that damage cells and tissue and cause heart disease and cancer.

Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid. According to the LFA, omega-3s decrease the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Women with lupus may particularly benefit from consuming omega-3s because they are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general population. Food sources of omega-3s include fish, walnuts, flaxseed, oat bran and whole grains.

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Calcium

According to the LFA, 25 percent of pre-menopausal women with lupus are at risk for osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones. Calcium is an essential mineral that builds and maintains strong bones. Foods that are naturally high in calcium include dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese and green leafy vegetables. Breakfast cereals, fruit juice and soy milk may be fortified with calcium, which means calcium has been added to them.

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