5 Good Foods for Gout
Research shows some foods may help reduce the risk of gout attacks.
Following a diet that helps control blood levels of the bodily waste product uric acid is an important part of a gout treatment plan. That’s because high levels of uric acid in the blood can lead to the formation of crystals that often accumulate in the joints, causing severe pain and inflammation – a gout attack.
Traditionally gout diets have focused on what not to eat – namely foods rich in purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that are metabolized into uric acid in the body. But increasingly, research is showing what you do eat may be equally important to managing uric acid levels and reducing the risk of developing gout or suffering painful gout attacks.
Along with following a well-balanced diet to promote general health and achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight, here are five foods to focus on whether you are trying to control gout or prevent it.
- Vegetables. A diet rich in vegetables is important to good health. While doctors once advised against vegetables with purines –including mushrooms, asparagus and spinach – for people with gout, research published in 2012 shows no correlation between the intake of these vegetables and gout risk. It may be because the beneficial compounds in these foods may offset the effects of the purine content, which is much lower than in meats.
- Cherries. At least a few studies suggest that cherries may be beneficial against gout. One small study presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism found that patients who took a tablespoon of cherry juice concentrate twice a day for at least four months experienced a greater than 50% reduction in gout attacks. In a 2012 study, people who ate cherries or used cherry extracts had fewer gout attacks in the two days following cherry ingestion than during the two days following periods when they didn’t ingest cherries or cherry extract. Research suggests cherries may help by reducing uric acid levels or working more directly on inflammation.
- Water. Research shows drinking more water means fewer gout flares. One study from 2009 revealed that with each glass of water consumed in 24 hours before an attack, the risk for recurrent gout attacks decreased. For example, those who drank five to eight glasses of water had a 40 percent reduced risk of a gout attack compared with those who drank only one glass of water or less in the prior 24 hours. The study’s authors could not make specific recommendations about the amount of water people should drink because it depends on their underlying medical conditions and physical activity levels. Talk to your doctor about how much water you should drink each day.
- Dairy products. Investigators have found that low-fat dairy products may improve excretion of uric acid in the urine. In an earlier study, those who consumed a serving or more of low-fat milk or yogurt a day had less uric acid in their blood than those who abstained. High protein and low purine content of milk may explain dairy’s protective effect.
- Coffee. Two separate studies reveal that drinking coffee reduces the risk of gout for men and women. Results of the larger study, which included 45,869 men older than age 40 with no history of gout, showed the risk of gout was 40 percent lower for men who drank four to five cups a day – and 59 percent lower for men who drank six or more cups a day when compared to men who never drank coffee. In the other study researchers reviewed food questionnaires from 14,000 men and women age 20 or older, and found that the more coffee (regular or decaf) the participants drank, the lower their uric acid levels were. Tea seemed to have no effect.