Purines are substances present in most foods. When your body metabolizes purines during digestion, it forms a waste product called uric acid. Usually the kidneys can eliminate uric acid without difficulty, but in some people, the body makes too much or the kidneys eliminate too little. The excess uric acid crystallizes and becomes deposited in joints, resulting in a form of arthritis called gout. Some risk factors for gout, such as genetics, are out of your control, but you can manage the level of purines in your body by eating foods low in purines.
Because all nuts are low in purines, the Arthritis Foundation indicates that you need not restrict them in a gout diet. Nuts and nut butters are also a good source of protein. Because all meats and fish contain high or moderate amounts of protein, use nuts or nut butters to replace some of the animal protein in your diet. Dietary recommendations for the meat and beans food group are 5 to 6 ounces daily for adults. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is the equivalent of a 1-ounce serving from this food group, and half an ounce of nuts or seeds is equivalent to a 1-ounce serving.
Fruits and Vegetables
New York University Langone Medical Center advises that all fruit and fruit juices are safe for you to drink if you have gout because they are low in purines. Most vegetables are also low in purines, but moderate amounts are found in mushrooms, green and dried peas, dried beans, asparagus, cauliflower and spinach. If you already have gout, you may need to limit these foods; however, the "Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide" reports that a high intake of purine-rich vegetables does not increase the risk of developing gout.
All grain products, including pasta, rice and breads, are safe to eat if you have gout. NYU Langone Medical Center does recommend limiting oatmeal to no more than two-thirds of a cup uncooked cereal daily, however. The Arthritis Foundation goes further in saying that whole grain cereals contain moderate amounts of purine, whereas refined ones are low in purine.
Eggs and Dairy
Eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt are safe to eat if you have gout. To control your weight, you should consume only nonfat or low-fat dairy products. A study cited in the "Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide" found that men who consumed more dairy products had a lower risk of developing gout than did those who consumed very little. Eggs and dairy products are also good sources of protein. Substituting them for meat and fish that contain high amounts of purine is another way to lower overall purine consumption.