A low purine diet will typically center around fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The diet will minimize the consumption of red meat, seafood, and alcohol.

Healthcare professionals often recommend a low purine diet for people who have gout, kidney stones, or a similar condition.

While a low purine diet helps ease symptoms of certain conditions, it can also improve general health and well-being.

In this article, learn which foods a person on a low purine diet should eat and which they should avoid.

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Purines are compounds that the body produces naturally. This natural production accounts for the majority of purines in a person’s system. However, many foods and drinks can contain small amounts of purines.

Eating a high purine diet can increase the risk of hyperuricemia, while a low purine diet helps minimize the number of purines in the body and reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood.

Hyperuricemia

The body can break down purine compounds into uric acid. This is a waste substance that typically dissolves harmlessly in the blood before the kidneys filter it and remove it from the body.

When uric acid levels exceed the amount that the body can process, the acid can form crystals in the blood. The medical term for this is hyperuricemia.

Hyperuricemia can result from an overproduction of uric acid, a drop in its excretion, or both. The condition can lead to gout, kidney stones, and other issues.

Medications, such as niacin and pyrazinamide, and several conditions can impair the body’s ability to excrete uric acid, including:

People on a low purine diet can still enjoy plenty of foods and beverages.

Foods and beverages low in purines include:

Many types of meat and fish are high in purines. A person following a low purine diet should limit or exclude the following from their diet.

  • game meats such as veal, venison, and duck
  • red meat
  • seafood including tuna, sardines, anchovies, and herring
  • organ meat, such as kidneys and liver
  • beer
  • whiskey

Other foods and beverages can change how the body retains or eliminates uric acid.

While some forms of alcohol are lower in purines than others, research shows that all alcohol consumption can raise uric acid levels.

In addition, consuming high levels of fructose may also increase uric acid production. Concentrated fructose syrup is an ingredient in many sweetened juices and sodas. If this production outpaces excretion, it may put a person at risk of gout.

Discover eight ways to naturally lower uric acid levels here.

Uric acid crystals can form kidney stones or cause gout if they build up in the joints and tendons.

A low purine diet can lower the levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. This can help reduce the risk of developing hyperuricemia and its associated conditions.

Short-term exposure to purine-rich foods can cause gout flares. Managing or eliminating purine intake can help reduce these flares and manage gout symptoms.

Learn more about what to eat to manage gout here.

Research suggests that meat and fish products increase uric acid levels and can worsen gout symptoms at a greater rate than plant-based counterparts. A diet focusing on vegetable proteins may help people reach nutrient goals while minimizing uric acid increases.

While a low purine diet can help prevent kidney stones or gout flare-ups, the diet is not a cure for either condition. A person should discuss further treatment options with a doctor.

Medication can also help to lower chronically high uric acid levels. Two common drugs that doctors prescribe are probenecid and allopurinol. These medications can regulate uric acid levels in the long term.

A low purine diet cannot ease a gout flare-up while it is happening, but over-the-counter medications, such as naproxen (Aleve), can help. Prescription-strength treatments are also available.

There is also scientific evidence that the Mediterranean diet may lower uric acid levels. The Mediterranean diet involves eating mainly fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

A low purine diet can reduce uric acid levels. These changes can prevent kidney stones and flare-ups of gout.

A person should always speak with a doctor before embarking on a new diet, especially one that aims to address a health issue.

The doctor can provide tips and may recommend additional medical treatments to reduce symptoms.