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Pain-fighting Foods

7 superfoods that ease pain. Plus, tasty recipes

Painkillers in Your Pantry

Salmon and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve inflammatory pain. — Corbis

Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish that help keep your ticker in top shape may also tame the pain or inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and some autoimmune diseases, including Crohn's disease. Even chronic neck- and back-pain patients can benefit: In an open trial at the University of Pittsburgh, 60 percent of respondents experienced some relief after taking fish oil for three months, and almost as many dropped their pain drugs altogether. "We found we could substitute fish oil in place of drugs — an anti-inflammatory with no side effects in place of pharmaceuticals with side effects," says Joseph C. Maroon, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the study's coauthor.

Aim for two to four meals a week of fatty fish such as salmon, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, or trout — all top omega-3 sources. Halibut, light tuna, snapper, and striped bass are good, too. Not a fan of the fin? Consider a daily supplement containing both EPA and DHA — the key omega-3 fats — suggests Maroon. If you are taking a blood thinner, check with your doctor first; omega-3s may increase that drug's effects.

Recipe: Smoked Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress and Crème Fraîche

by Monica Bhide

Makes 4 sandwiches

4 thin slices pancetta (about 1 ounce total)
1/4 cup crème fraîche
8 slices white or whole-wheat bread
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 medium English cucumber, very thinly sliced
8 to 12 small sprigs watercress, tough stems removed
1/4 pound thinly sliced cold smoked salmon

1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook the pancetta, turning once, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. When it is cool enough to handle, break into small pieces.

2. Spread the crème fraîche generously on one side of each bread slice. Sprinkle a little black pepper on each slice.

3. Top 4 bread slices with the crumbled pancetta, cucumber, watercress and salmon. Cover with a second slice of bread. Cut each sandwich into halves or quarters, depending on your preference. Serve immediately.

Nutrients per serving: 245 calories, 15g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 9g fat, 21mg cholesterol, 1,020mg sodium

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