What Are Purines?
Purines are nucleotides that exist in the cells of certain plants and animals. Although purines are essential for life, a buildup of purines can lead to excess uric acid in the body. This buildup of uric acid can cause or exacerbate gout symptoms. Therefore, many gout sufferers try to avoid eating purine-rich foods. Protein products are particularly purine-rich foods, but other surprising foods make the list as well. Here are some high-purine foods to avoid if you have gout.
The livers, kidneys, brains, and hearts of various animals (pigs, chickens, and cows) contain very high levels of purines. Seafood, especially anchovies, sardines, herring, shrimp, and mackerel are also considered purine-rich food, and should be avoided as much as possible. Many gout sufferers make sure to limit their consumption of meat and poultry products as well, although these contain lower levels of purines.
Whole grain products also contain relatively high levels of purines, and viewed as purine-rich foods. Therefore, although whole grain products are generally considered healthier than refined grain products, many gout sufferers avoid whole grain foods as much as possible. These include whole wheat breads and pastas, as well as brown rice.
High-fat dairy products can have elevated levels of purines as well, although nowhere near as high as most proteins. Therefore, those who are on a low-purine diet should limit their dairy intake to low-fat or non-fat products as much as possible.
Dried legumes, such as beans and peas, are also high-purine foods. Black-eyed peas and lentils have especially high purine levels, and should be avoided whenever possible. Other types of beans may be eaten in moderation when on a low purine diet.
Alcohol contains low levels of purines, but consuming large amounts of alcohol can push the level of purines higher than is healthy for people with gout.
Mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, and cauliflower should be eaten in moderation on a low-purine diet. All other fruits and vegetables are low in purines and may be eaten often.