Whether you’re an avid seafood eater or you just enjoy the occasional tuna salad, you’re undoubtedly aware of the health benefits of eating these dishes. When prepared correctly, many types of seafood are excellent sources of lean protein as well as antioxidants in vitamins B12 and B2.
Above all else, they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for heart health. Despite these beneficial traits, there is a drawback to consuming too much of certain types of seafood. This is a result of the increased uric acid levels found in seafood, which can increase your susceptibility to suffering from gout.
What’s the connection between your favorite seafood dish and that stabbing pain in your feet? Keep reading as we delve into a breakdown of how seafood can cause or aggravate a gout attack.
Seafood and Gout – What’s the Connection?
In a word, the connection between your body and your preferred seafood dish is purines. Essentially, purines are a natural substance found in the human body and are required to produce protein. As your body metabolizes these purines, uric acid is produced.
When your body has a too high concentration of uric acid, urate crystals accumulate in your joints. This in turn leads to inflammation and intense pain, which is referred to as hyperuricemia or more commonly, a gout attack. Studies show that gout is more common in men than in women and affects around 8.3 million people which equates to about 4% of the population.
Certain types of seafood contain higher levels of purine which lead to an increase in uric acid if consumed in large quantities. This includes eating seafood in combination with other foods that contain excessive purine.
Can Seafood Cause Gout?
Quite simply, seafood high in purines and consumed in larger quantities can cause a gout attack when the uric acid levels are increased. Despite being healthier than many other foods in some regards, consuming too much of certain types of seafood can aggravate your gout if you’re already a sufferer.
Also Read: Is Seafood Good For You?
What Seafood Contains the Most Uric Acid?
If you’re a gout sufferer, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid seafood altogether. It simply means you need to change the type of seafood you’re eating or consume less of the types that have high purine levels. So, what seafood contains the most purine and is most likely to increase uric acid?
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that foods (including seafood) containing 150 to 825 mg of purine compounds in every 100 g are considered high. They have listed the following seafood types as those most likely to result in a “gout flare-up”.
|Type of Seafood||Purine level per 100g serving|
|Tuna in oil||290 mg|
|Firefly squid||128 mg|
It’s also important to note that shellfish such as lobster, shrimp, crab, prawns and mussels are very high in purine and should be consumed in small amounts. Squid on the other hand is both high in sodium and purine. If you’re following a seafood rich diet, it’s important to vary your types of seafood. So, eating prawns everyday will definitely cause a gout attack!
What Seafood Contains Less Uric Acid?
Seafood lovers will be delighted to know that there are a few alternatives that won’t cause as many gout attacks. This is because they contain fewer purines.
|Type of Seafood||Purine level per 100g serving|
|Japanese sea bass||119 mg|
|Yellow striped flounder||113 mg|
|Japanese eel||92 mg|
|Octopus organs only||79 mg|
|Smoked eel||78 mg|
|Meat of monkfish||70 mg|
Do Cooking Methods Affect the Purine Level?
More good news is that the cooking method of your seafood dish plays a huge role in the purine content. This means you don’t have to give up your beloved salmon or tuna dishes altogether.
Health experts recommend poaching, steaming or boiling your preferred seafood dish rather than deep-frying, grilling or baking. More good news is that eating seafood raw in sushi will have less of a negative effect on your gout. However, the wasabi used in sushi is spicy and could aggravate your gout.
Watch Vegetable and Seafood Pairings
A gout flare-up can easily be aggravated when purine-high seafood is paired with vegetables that are equally high in purines. Some vegetables to avoid when you’re eating high-purine seafood are:
- Green peas
- Lima beans
- Kidney beans
Rather opt for these options:
- Red bell pepper
Health experts also recommend not making purine-high seafood the main part of your meal. Rather use it as an ingredient in salads, pasta dishes or soups.
Read More: Is Seafood High in Cholesterol?
Know Your Gout Triggers
Whether you’ve been suffering from gout for some time, or you’ve just recently been diagnosed, it’s important to keep a food diary of the seafood that triggers a flare-up. By knowing what types of seafood you can eat and in what quantities, you’ll easily be able to prevent the agonizing pain that often accompanies your favorite seafood dish.
Symptoms of Gout to Watch Out For
If you’re not sure if your chosen seafood dish is giving you gout, it’s important to know the symptoms. Look out for these tell-tale signs, especially after consuming high-purine foods or seafood.
- Sudden, severe attacks of pain in joints, especially the feet
- Redness and tenderness in one or more joints
- Sharp pain in one or both big toes
- Waking up in the middle of the night with a sensation that your big toe is burning
- Inability to move your joints normally
Read More: Can You Eat Seafood Every Day?
If you’re a gout sufferer, it’s imperative to keep a watchful eye on the number of purine-high seafood you consume. Focus on creating dishes with the seafood types that are low in purine. When you do have the occasional purine-high dish, opt for a cooking method that won’t increase the chances of a gout flare-up. As with everything else in your life, it’s all about balance!