Gout is considered one of the most inflammatory types of arthritis. Triggered by the deposition of sharp crystals in the joints, the disease has always been referred to as a rich man’s disease because of its associations with meats and fish. These types of foods are high in purines which can trigger the process leading to joint failure. However, not all foods high in these compounds pose a risk, experts say.
Dr. Justine Butler, head of research at Viva!, explained that gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in your body.
She said: ‘At low levels uric acid is helpful, but when it builds up it can crystallize in the joints and cause severe pain and inflammation.
“Uric acid is created when the body breaks down compounds called purines, which occur naturally in your body but also in many foods.”
This means that what you eat can influence the level of purines present in your body, with some plant foods like beans containing high amounts of these compounds.
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However, healthy plant foods do not appear to pose the same risk of gout attacks as meat, according to Laura Brown, lecturer in nutrition, food and health sciences at the University of Teesside.
Brown said, “Research has shown that certain foods and alcohols are linked to gout attacks, but the effects of purines in asparagus and other high-purine vegetables are minimal compared to those of animal purines.
“Studies have shown that purine-rich vegetables, such as asparagus, spinach, and beans, do not increase the risk of gout or recurrent gout attacks.
“For example, asparagus is high in fiber and other ingredients that actually help the body excrete excess uric acid.
“Consuming asparagus minimally increases blood uric acid levels and therefore does not increase the risk of gout.”
Don’t just take the expert’s word for it, as a large study also found no link between eating purine-rich plant foods and gout.
The research looked at over 47,000 men with no history of gout for 12 years and found no risk for foods such as peas, beans, lentils, spinach, mushrooms and cauliflower.
“In fact, the risk of developing gout in those who ate the most plant protein was 27% lower than those who ate the least,” Dr. Butler said.
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Brown explained that plant foods are generally lower in purines than meat.
The expert continued, “Beans have been considered high purine foods and therefore people at risk of gout may have already been advised to avoid beans.
“However, that’s because the tables showing the purine content of beans are usually triple the usual serving size.
“Using a half-cup serving, the purine content of the beans ranges from about 20-75 mg per serving, which is consistent with moderate consumption levels.
“Recent research also found that higher bean consumption was associated with lower serum urate and reduced risk of high blood uric acid in both men and women.”
Therefore, experts have concluded that eating healthy plant foods is safer than eating meat when it comes to purines.
Brown added: “In general, people are advised to lower their uric acid levels by reducing their consumption of meat, fish, seafood and alcohol.
“Even though some plant-based ingredients may be touted as high in purines, they are part of a healthy diet and therefore the consumption of plant-based foods as well as a healthy lifestyle should be encouraged. and not limited.”
Origin: | This article first appeared on Express.co.uk