If you have an arthritic condition like gout, you may not realize how much your diet can affect your health, but the food you eat is essential in managing your symptoms. Because they can cause flare-ups, tomatoes and gout aren't a good combination.
Tomatoes are a low-purine food, so they're not typically on the "foods to avoid" list for gout. However, research shows that even without purines, tomatoes may increase uric acid levels and worsen the symptoms of gout.
In addition to tomatoes, people with gout should also avoid organ meats (like liver and kidneys), beef, pork and lots of different kinds of seafood. On the other hand, dairy products and vitamin C may help relieve gout symptoms.
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What is Gout?
Gout is a specific type of arthritis that develops when levels of a waste product, called uric acid, increase in the blood. When the concentration of uric acid gets too high, it can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals. These crystals are hard with rough edges and can accumulate in and around the joints.
When the crystals accumulate, it can cause intense pain and swelling in the joints. In someone with gout, the big toe is the joint that's most commonly affected, but symptoms can also occur in the elbows, knees, hands or ankles, according to the American Kidney Fund.
One of the ways to successfully manage gout is through your diet. Certain foods are high in compounds called purines that break down into uric acid in your body. If you eat a lot of high-purine foods, it can raise uric acid levels and contribute to gout and symptom flare-ups.
Foods to Avoid
According to Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, foods that are high in purines include:
- Organ meats
- Game meats (elk, deer and moose)
If you have gout, you should avoid these foods as much as possible to try to keep your uric acid levels below 6 milligrams per deciliter, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Other foods that contain moderate amounts of purines include oatmeal, wheat bran, wheat germ and any other fish and seafood.
On the other hand, dairy products may help gout. That means cheese and gout can be a good combination, while yogurt may also alleviate symptoms.
Read more: What Vegetables Should Gout Sufferers Avoid?
Tomatoes and Gout
Although tomatoes are considered a low-purine food, there's some research that they may still aggravate gout. In fact, approximately 20 percent of people with gout who were affected by food reported that tomatoes made their symptoms worse, according to an August 2015 report that was published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.
The report notes that even though tomatoes are low in purines, they can still increase the amount of uric acid in the blood. Even after removing other food triggers from the diet, the researchers still noticed that tomatoes had a negative effect on uric acid levels.
But it's not just plain tomatoes you might want to be wary of. That means that pizza sauce and gout, spaghetti sauce and gout and other things, like lasagna and gout, aren't a good mix either. If you have gout and you think tomatoes are one of your triggers, talk to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist who can help you navigate your diet and figure out which foods to avoid.
- American Kidney Fund: "What is Gout?"
- Michigan Medicine: "Diet and Gout"
- Arthritis Foundation: "Gout Diet: Dos and Don’ts"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gout Diet: What's Allowed, What's Not"
- BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders: "Positive Association of Tomato Consumption With Serum Urate: Support for Tomato Consumption as an Anecdotal Trigger of Gout Flares"