Purines are part of all human tissue and they are found in many foods. The ingestion of foods high in purines can raise uric acid levels in the blood and precipitate gout attacks in some people. That's why a diet that is low in purines is important for people with gout.
Considered one of the most painful of the rheumatic conditions, gout afflicts an estimated 840 out of 100,000 people, accounting for about 5% of all cases of arthritis. Since it is typically recommended that people who have gout symptoms or recurring gout attacks reduce their intake of purine-rich foods, which foods are purine-rich? Purines are found in all protein foods. It is not recommended that all purines be eliminated from your diet -- simply cut back enough to control gout attacks.
According to the American Medical Association, purine-containing foods include:
- Beer, other alcoholic beverages.
- Anchovies, sardines in oil, fish roes, herring.
- Organ meat (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)
- Legumes (dried beans, peas)
- Meat extracts, consomme, gravies.
- Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower.
Beneficial Foods for People With Gout
Foods which may be beneficial to people with gout include:
- Dark berries may contain chemicals that lower uric acid and reduce inflammation.
- Tofu which is made from soybeans may be a better choice than meats.
- Certain fatty acids found in certain fish such as salmon, flax or olive oil, or nuts may possess some anti-inflammatory benefits.
Avoiding purine-rich foods is only one aspect of treatment. It is important to take prescribed medications as directed, maintain a healthy/balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids/water, exercise and maintain a healthy body weight. Diets designed for quick or extreme weight loss will work against you though -- they increase uric acid levels in the blood.
According to the American Medical Association, a balanced diet for people with gout include foods:
- High in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
- Low in protein (15% of calories and sources should be soy, lean meats, poultry)
- No more than 30% of calories from fat (10% animal fat)
Gout Fact Sheet, American College of Rheumatology
Questions and Answers About Gout, NIAMS
What Lifestyle Measures Can Help Prevent Gout? U.C. Davis