People with the form of arthritis called gout are typically told to limit or reduce their intake of dietary substances called purines. Beans have a relatively high purine content. However, the purine content of beans and other vegetables does not appear to aggravate gout symptoms, and people with gout can probably safely eat baked beans.
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Purines are substances that help form the basic structure of your genes, and every cell in your body contains purine materials. A variety of common foods also contain at least some purines. When you eat purines, your body breaks them down and forms a substance called uric acid. In people with gout, uric acid builds up abnormally and triggers the formation of crystals that settle in the big toe and other joints and cause pain. Foods with a high protein content typically also have a relatively high purine content.
Gout symptoms are clearly associated with the consumption of animal-based proteins, which have an especially high purine content. Animal-based foods particularly linked to the worsening of gout include pork, lamb, beef, tuna, scallops, lobster and shrimp. Other animal foods with notably high purine content include anchovies, herring, mackerel and organ meats like liver. According to a long-term study published in 2004 in the “New England Journal of Medicine,” men who consume diets rich in red meats and seafood have a 40 to 50 percent greater chance of developing gout than those who consume diets low in these foods.
Consumption of beans does not appear to trigger gout attacks, the authors of the study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” report. In addition, consumption of other high-purine vegetables — including mushrooms, peas, spinach and cauliflower — is not related to any worsening of gout symptoms. People with gout should replace high-purine animal foods with beans and other plant-based proteins. In addition to potentially reducing gout-related symptoms, consumption of plant proteins can reduce your levels of saturated fat, which is indirectly linked to the onset of both gout and obesity.
Consumption of sugar may directly increase your uric acid levels, according to the October 2013 issue of "Diabetes. Since baked bean recipes commonly contain some form of sugar, by logical extension, baked bean consumption may present some risks for people with gout. However, there is no scientific consensus on sugar’s uric acid-related effects. In addition to reducing your intake of animal proteins and increasing your intake of plant proteins, dietary steps you can take to reduce your gout symptoms or gout risks include increasing your water intake, eating low-fat or fat-free dairy, avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption and increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates. Consult your doctor for more information on the gout-related effects of beans and other plant-based proteins.