Diet and gout

Purines (specific chemical compounds found in some foods) are broken down into uric acid. A diet rich in purines from certain sources can raise uric acid levels in the body, which sometimes leads to gout. Meat and seafood may increase your risk of gout, while dairy products may lower your risk. One study found that purines in vegetables do not increase the risk of gout.1

Foods to limit (very high in purines):

  • Organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, and brains
  • Meats, including bacon, beef, pork, and lamb
  • Game meats
  • Any other meats in large amounts
  • Anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, and scallops
  • Gravy
  • Beer

Foods to eat occasionally (moderately high in purines, but may not raise your risk of gout):

  • Fish and seafood (other than high purine seafood)
  • Oatmeal, wheat bran, and wheat germ

Foods that are safe to eat (low in purines):

  • Green vegetables and tomatoes
  • Fruits and fruit juices
  • Breads and cereals that are not whole-grain
  • Butter, buttermilk, cheese, and eggs
  • Chocolate and cocoa
  • Coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages
  • Peanut butter and nuts

Dairy products that may lower your risk of gout:

  • Low-fat or nonfat milk
  • Low-fat yogurt

If you have experienced a gout attack or have high uric acid in your blood (hyperuricemia), it may help to reduce your intake of meat and seafood, as well as alcohol.1, 2

Changing your diet may help lower your risk of having future attacks of gout. Doctors recommend that overweight people who have gout reach and stay at a healthy body weight through moderate daily exercise and regulation of their fat and caloric intake.

Citations

  1. Choi HK, et al. (2004). Purine-rich foods, dairy and protein intake, and the risk of gout in men. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(11): 1093–1103.
  2. Choi HK, et al. (2004). Alcohol intake and risk of incident gout in men: A prospective study. Lancet, 363(9417): 1277–1281.

Last Updated: July 11, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology

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