What to Eat When You Have Gout

by Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

If you suffer from inflammatory gout, you probably know that what you eat can have a profound effect on your symptoms. But living with gout doesn’t mean that you have to give up eating everything you love. A few simple substitutions can dramatically lower your intake of purine, which causes uric acid levels in your blood to rise, leading to a gout flare.

Flight of four wines.

Instead of beer, try other alcohol in moderation

All alcohol is high in purine, but drinking beer is especially risky if you have gout because it contains both purine and yeast, which can cause uric acid levels in the blood to rise. The dehydrating effect of alcohol also makes gout worse. If you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, try sipping on a glass of wine or a wine cooler. Drink plenty of water when drinking alcohol to avoid dehydration.

Hands making mojitos.

Or, dilute your favorite cocktails

Another tip is to make a cocktail with your favorite spirit, such as vodka or rum, and dilute the drink with as much water or non-alcoholic mixer as possible. Create your own spritzer by adding extra club soda, seltzer, and/or lime juice to limit the dehydrating effects of the alcohol. Avoiding alcohol altogether, especially beer, is the best way to avoid a flare of your gout.

White and brown eggs in basket on wood table.

Instead of organ meats, try eggs

Consumption of organ meats has increased with the popularity of the Paleo Diet. Animal organ meats, such as sweetbreads (the thymus or pancreas of a calf, lamb, cow, or pig), tripe (the stomach muscle lining of a cow), liver, brains, and kidneys are very high in purine and should be avoided if you suffer from gout. Consider substituting eggs, which are nutritionally comparable to organs but lower in fat. Eggs are good sources of vitamins A, D, and B12; choline, iron, selenium, and zinc.

Seasoned white fish.

Instead of seafood and shellfish, eat fish in moderation

Seafood and shellfish are high in purine and should be avoided to reduce the risk of gout flare. Some fish, including salmon, sole, tuna, catfish, red snapper, tilapia, flounder, and whitefish are lower in purine than other types of fish, and can be included in your diet in moderation (two to three times per week) if you are not consuming other purine-rich foods.

Fish oil pills on wooden spoon and in wooden tray.

Or, consider taking fish oil

An even safer alternative to seafood consumption is taking fish oil. These supplements can give you all of the health benefits of fish (including the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids) without the purine. This is because fish oil supplements are made from the distilled oil of the fish, not the meat of the fish itself.

Bowl of mixed nuts.

Instead of meat, try vegetable sources of protein or dairy products

All meat, including beef, poultry, and pork, contains purine. Most experts recommend controlling purine intake by consuming no more than six ounces of meat each day if you have gout. If you crave more protein in your diet, try adding nuts and nut butters, soy, or beans to your diet. Low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are also great sources of protein that are low in purine.

Making vegetable stock.

Instead of gravies and sauces, use vegetable broth or dairy-based sauces

Since they are made with the fat and drippings from meat and poultry, gravies and sauces made from beef, pork, and poultry should be avoided because they contain high amounts of purine. Try making sauces with vegetable broth or tomato sauce. Dairy-based sauces, such as a low-fat cream sauce, are also safe alternatives.

Stevia sugar granules in bowl

Instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), use stevia

One study linked the consumption of HFCS (often added to sodas and juices) to increased blood uric acid levels in women. For this reason, it is recommended to limit the intake of foods and beverages sweetened with HFCS to decrease the risk of developing gout. A good substitute for fructose is stevia. This plant-based sweetener is a calorie-free, sugar-free alternative, which is especially beneficial if you have diabetes.

Couple speaking with doctor.

The bottom line

If you or a loved one is living with gout, it’s important to know how to decrease your risk of a painful flare. Achieving a healthy weight, limiting foods high in purine, and good control of other medical conditions (such as diabetes and hypertension) can decrease your risk. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have additional questions about managing gout.

Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Meet Our Writer
Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

Carmen is a Registered Dietitian. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she has spent her career working at Johns Hopkins and is also an adjunct faculty instructor for Excelsior College. Carmen has over 20 years of experience in nutritional counseling, education, writing, and program management and is a certified specialist in adult weight management. She enjoys educating her students and clients about how nutrition affects the body and its role in overall health and wellness.