The Mediterranean diet, fish oil supplements and Rheumatoid arthritis outcomes: evidence from clinical trials

Autoimmun Rev. 2018 Nov;17(11):1105-1114. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2018.06.007. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


The impact of dietary interventions such as specific types of diet or nutritional supplements in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been subject to increased attention in recent years. The recognition of the unmet need to better understand the effects of specific dietary interventions on disease outcomes in RA, along with the growing patient interest on lifestyle interventions beyond pharmacotherapy, have informed the undertaking of this narrative literature review. The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet (MD) have been shown in various studies, although only a limited number of trials focus specifically on RA. Based on the studies reviewed, the MD may provide benefits in reducing pain and swollen and tender joints in RA patients. There is more and better evidence that n-3 polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) supplementation has the potential to reduce inflammation and provide clinical benefit, possibly slowing progression to pharmacotherapy. Yet, many of these studies to date are limited in their methodology; this being partly a reflection of the complexity of the research questions being addressed. Consequently, the conclusions that can be robustly drawn from their results are restricted. With a focus on clinical trials on the MD and fish oil supplementation, this review critically appraises the evidence, discussing the findings of studies in the wider context of impact on RA outcomes, methodological challenges, and practical points to consider as part of the routine care of RA patients.

Keywords: DMARDs; Fatty acids; Fish oils; Mediterranean diet; Patient-reported outcomes; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Humans


  • Fish Oils