Certain health conditions may require you to watch your purine intake. Your body converts purines, natural substances found in some foods, into uric acid. Too much uric acid can cause problems in people with gout or those who are prone to kidney stones. Because most foods contain purines, you cannot avoid them completely. However, you can choose foods that are low in purines to help reduce uric acid buildup. Consult your physician for specific guidelines.
Because purines are found in the cell nuclei, all proteins contain purines. The only exception is egg whites. Proteins that are low in purines include nuts and peanut butter. Most other proteins, including beef, poultry, legumes and seafood contain a medium amount of purines. The University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences recommends that you limit your meat intake to 3 ounces per meal. Avoid organ meats, game meats, anchovies, roe, herring, mackerel, sardines, scallops and mussels, which are high in purines.
Grains and Dairy
Choose enriched breads, cereals, pasta, noodles, potatoes and rice if you need to watch your purine intake. All grains contain purines, however enriched grains are lower in the substance. Some dairy is completely free of purines. Milk and non-fermented milk products like cottage cheese, yogurt and mozzarella cheese do not have any purines. Other low-fat cheeses and dairy products are low in purines. You should avoid whole-milk dairy products, such as sour cream and cream.
Fruits and Vegetables
Nearly all fruits and vegetables contain some purines. Pulp-free fruit juice is the only option for a purine-free fruit or vegetable. Fruits are very low in purines so you should enjoy two to four servings of fruits each day. Most vegetables also contain a small amount of purines. However, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower and green peas have a slightly higher amount of purines than other vegetables. Limit your intake of these vegetables to two servings per week.
If you have a condition that limits the amount of purines in your diet, choose fat-free or low-fat foods when you can. High-fat foods or fried foods are high in purines. Increase your fluid intake to flush out any excess uric acid in your body. Aim to drink 10 to 12 cups of fluids per day. You should avoid beer because it contains a high amount of purines. However, you can drink wine in moderation. Gravies, broths and yeast supplements are also high in purines. Maintaining a healthy weight can help decrease the levels of uric acid in your body.
- FamilyDoctor.org: Low-Purine Diet
- University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences: Low-Purine Diet
- Drugs.com: Low Purine Diet
- Gout: The At Your Fingertips Guide; Rodney Grahame, H. Anne Simmonds, Elizabeth Carrey
- Dietetics Simplified: The Use Of Foods In Health And Disease; L. Jean Bogert, Mame T. Porte
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images