Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis that affects people of all age groups. It is characterised by severe pain, swelling and inflammation in joints. These symptoms manifest as a gout attack when high levels of uric acid in blood cause the formation and accumulation of urate crystals in our joints.
Our body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines in certain foods. This article will look into 5 types of high-purine foods which gout patients should avoid.
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1. Red meat
Red meat (e.g. beef, mutton, venison and pork) contains large amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc and phosphorous, which are all important nutrients for our growth and energy supply.
However, red meat is generally high in purines. Too much consumption could result in raised blood uric acid level, which leads to formation and accumulation of urate crystals in joints. Limiting intake of red meat can significantly reduce the chance of another gout flare.
Figure 1. Red meat
2. Organ meat
Animal organs, such as liver, kidneys and glandular meats like thymus or pancreas are saturated with purine. They are not essential for a balanced diet as the nutrients they contain may be provided by other types of meat. Gout patients should avoid organ meats as much as possible.
Figure 2. Organ meat
There are countless benefits of eating seafood. The DHA and EPA found in seafood are beneficial to neurodevelopment and cognition. Fish consumption has been associated with decreased risk of dementia, lung cancer and stroke. The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood could also reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, some types of seafood, especially shellfish, sardines and tuna, have significantly higher purine content. Thus gout patients should avoid these types of seafood as much as possible.
Figure 3. Seafood
4. Beer and grain liquors
Beer is mainly brewed from barley, whilst grain liquors like vodka and whiskey are spirits brewed from a variety of other fermented grain (e.g. corn, rice wheat). These alcoholic drinks contain high levels of purine. Though there is less purine in wine, drinking any type of alcoholic beverage has been associated with increased risk of gout flares. Gout patients are thus advised to avoid drinking completely.
Figure 4. Beer
5. High fructose product
Fructose is a common form of sugar found in fruit, some vegetables and honey. When our body breaks down fructose, the process releases purines.
Fruits and vegetables remain a very important part of gout patients’ diet, however, they are advised to avoid flavoured drinks, dried fruits, canned fruits, sweetened cereals and vegetables like broccoli, leeks, mushrooms, onions, peas and tomatoes that are high in fructose. If you are not sure, check with a dietician for types of low-fructose fruits and vegetables you can eat with peace of mind.
Figure 5. Foods that are low in fructose vs Foods that are high in fructose