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What Is Purine?

Purine is a compound found primarily in foods of animal origin. It is especially high in organ meats, anchovies, mackerel, and sardines.

Why Should I Follow a Low-Purine Diet?

A low-purine diet is usually recommended if you have gout . It may also be recommended if you have kidney stones or have had an organ transplant.

The body metabolizes purine into uric acid. A buildup of uric acid can worsen symptoms of gout. If you have gout, eating a low-purine diet can help minimize uric acid production and thereby improve symptoms.

Eating Guide for a Low-Purine Diet
Food CategoryFoods RecommendedFoods to Limit or Avoid
Grains
  • Enriched breads, cereals, rice, noodles, pasta, and potatoes
  • Oatmeal (no more than 2/3 cup uncooked, daily)
  • Wheat bran, wheat germ (no more than ¼ cup dry, daily)
Vegetables
  • All except those on the “foods to limit or avoid” list
  • Mushrooms, green peas, dried peas and beans, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower (no more than ½ cup per day)
Fruits
  • All fruit and juices
Dairy
  • Nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Eggs
Meat and Beans
  • Eggs, peanut butter, and nuts
  • Red meat (eg, beef, lamb, pork, and veal), poultry, fish, and shellfish (no more than 4-6 ounces per day)
  • Dried peas, beans, and lentils (no more than 1 cup cooked daily)
  • Avoid: sweetbreads, sardines, anchovies, liver, kidneys, brains, meat extracts, herring, mackerel, scallops, gravies, goose, heart, mincemeat, and mussels
Oils
  • Gravies and sauces made with meat
Beverages
  • Carbonated beverages, coffee, tea, cocoa
  • Beer and other alcoholic beverages
Other
  • Low-fat milk-based or vegetable stock-based soups
  • Sugars, sweets, gelatins
  • Salt, herbs, spices, and condiments
  • Baker’s and brewer’s yeast
  • Stock-based soups (eg, bouillon- and broth-based)
Suggestions

In addition to following a low-purine diet, here are some other suggestions for decreasing uric acid production:

  • Avoid or limit your intake of alcohol, especially beer. While alcohol does not contain purines, it increases your production of purine.
  • Drink 8-12 cups of fluid every day. This will help dilute your urinary uric acid, which can help prevent kidney stones from forming.
  • Consume low-fat or nonfat dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, on a regular basis. Research shows that these foods may help prevent gout from occurring.
  • Limit your intake of fat to 30% of your calories.
  • Don’t follow low-carbohydrate diets.
  • Avoid rapid weight loss, as this can increase your uric acid levels. If you need to lose weight, do so gradually.
  • Consider meeting with a registered dietitian to come up with a personalized eating plan.

RESOURCES:

The Arthritis Foundation
http://www.arthritis.org/

The Purine Research Society
http://www.purineresearchsociety.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Arthritis Society
http://www.arthritis.ca/

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca/

References:

Choi HK, Liu S, Curhan G. Intake of purine-rich foods, protein, and dairy products and relationship to serum levels of uric acid: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arthritis Rheum. 2005;52:283-289.

Fam AG. Gout: excess calories, purines, and alcohol intake and beyond. Response to a urate-lowering diet. J Rheumatol. 2005;32:903-905.

Gout: is a purine-restricted diet still recommended? American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/nutrition_5314_ENU_HTML.htm. Accessed June 22, 2007.

Hyon CK, Mount DB, Reginato AM. Pathogenesis of gout. Ann Intern Med. 2005;143:499-516.

Low-purine diet. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center website. Available at: http://patienteducation.upmc.com/Pdf/LowPurineDiet.PDF. Accessed June 21, 2007.

Nutrition care manual. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org/auth.cfm?p=%2Findex.cfm%3F. Accessed January 3, 2009.



Last reviewed March 2014 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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