Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association advises people to eat fish, especially fatty fish, at least twice a week for these positive effects. Anyone who needs to restrict purine intake, such as individuals prone to gout attacks, may not be able to eat this amount of fatty fish without risking health problems. Fish oil supplements may be an acceptable alternative.
Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by intense joint inflammation and pain that comes on rapidly. It usually affects one joint, most commonly the big toe. Gout is caused by crystals that accumulate in the joints when uric acid blood levels become abnormally high, explains Highlands Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. The body makes some uric acid naturally, but more is produced during the digestion of purines in food. Chronic gout involves crystal deposits called tophi that develop around soft tissue. Uric acid crystals also can form into kidney stones.
Gout Risk Factors
Middle-aged men are most likely to develop gout, particularly those who eat large amounts of protein, are overweight and drink alcohol to excess, according to Highlands Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. People prone to gout attacks may need to consume mostly low-purine foods.
Purines in Food
The kinds of fish most recommended by the AHA are fatty fish such as anchovies, haddock, herring, lake trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna, as they are highest in omega-3 fatty acids. They also tend to be high in purines. Sardines in oil, for instance, contain 480 milligrams of purines per 100 grams of food, as noted by Acumedico. Anchovies, herring, trout and tuna have between 200 to 300 milligrams of purines per 100 grams of food, and haddock, mackerel and salmon provide over 100 milligrams of purines per a 100-gram serving. Other types of meat, including beef, pork, venison, rabbit, chicken, turkey, duck and goose all have 100 to 200 milligrams of purines per 100 grams of food, and organ meats typically have much higher levels. In contrast, most vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and dairy products have under 100 milligrams of purines per 100 grams of food.
Although fish meat contains purines, these substances are eliminated from highly purified fish oil, according to Arthritis Today. Fish oil actually is recommended as a complementary therapy for gout because of its anti-inflammatory effects, notes Highlands Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.
Buy only pharmaceutical-grade molecularly distilled fish oil supplements to ensure quality, advises Arthritis Today. You can find information about different manufacturers online. Use fish oil supplements that provide both docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentenoic acid, or EPA.