Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down substances in food called purines. Normally, the body is able to effectively process and eliminate uric acid. But sometimes uric acid builds up, or the kidneys are not able to get rid of enough uric acid, which results in excess blood levels. Hyperuricemia can also result form eating too many purine-rich foods. If your doctor has advised a purine-restricted diet, certain foods, such as liver and anchovies, will be off the menu. Nuts are low-purine foods that you can continue to enjoy.
Uric Acid and Your Health
When your body isn't able to process and eliminate enough uric acid, it can make you sick. High uric acid levels can lead to gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints that leads to pain, stiffness and swelling. Uric acid is also strongly associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase your chances of diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, studies show that high uric acid levels increase the risk of diabetes.
Nuts and Purines
All nuts are low in purines. Low-purine foods are those that contain less than 50 milligrams of purines per serving. The standard serving size for nuts is about 1 ounce. A 1-ounce serving of peanuts contains 22 milligrams of purines. The same size serving of almonds provides 10 milligrams of purines. An ounce of walnuts contains only 7 milligrams of purines. Even eating two servings in one sitting would not be enough to qualify nuts as a moderate-purine food.
Nuts and Uric Acid Levels
Eating a diet rich in nuts will not raise your uric acid levels, according to a study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in June 2007. Researchers divided 64 participants with metabolic syndrome into three controlled diet groups -- one with 20 percent of calories from walnuts, one with 20 percent of calories from cashews and one with no nuts. The participants followed the diets for eight weeks. Blood uric acid levels remained steady throughout the study, meaning that even a diet composed of one-fifth nuts won't increase uric acid.
Foods to Avoid
Keep in mind that nuts are rich in calories, so eating too many of them could cause you to gain weight. Being overweight or obese are risk factors for gout and diabetes. Seafood and organ meats are the foods highest in purines. Canned sardines contain 399 milligrams of purines per 3.5 ounces, and chicken liver has 243 milligrams of purine in the same size serving. You should also avoid game meats, meat gravies and yeast.
- MedlinePlus: Uric Acid - Blood
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
- Brenda Davis RD: Diet and Gout
- Aetna: Update on Gout
- American Diabetes Association: High Uric Acid Levels Raise Diabetes Risk
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Low-Purine Diet
- British Journal of Nutrition: Effects of a High Walnut and High Cashew Nut Diet on Selected Markers of the Metabolic Syndrome: A Controlled Feeding Trial
- Boston University Medical Campus: Online Gout Study