Low-purine diets are recommended for people suffering from gout or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. Purines make up over half of the base of DNA and RNA and are converted to uric acid when cells break down. Some individuals' kidneys do not process uric acid normally, leading to uric acid build-up and painful, arthritis-like swelling. All foods contain some level of purines. A low-purine diet involves limiting foods with high purine content, typically animal proteins such as meats and seafood, while maximising the intake of low-purine foods.
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All refined carbohydrates have low purine content, including processed breads and cereals, doughnuts, pastas and biscuits. Potatoes, barley and couscous also have negligible purine content. Avoid whole-wheat foods and nuts, which tend to have slightly elevated purine levels.
Good news for fruit lovers: all fruits, except for avocados, have minimal purine content and can be consumed as often as desired if your goal is to limit purines. Avocados have moderate purine levels, so eat them sparingly. Fruits are a cornerstone of a low-purine diet.
Most vegetables also contain negligible purine content and can be consumed often. Carrots, lettuce, onions, zucchini and eggplants, among others, should be eaten daily as part of a healthy diet. Try to minimise the intake of mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and cauliflower.
Eggs are both low in purine content and high in protein. Eggs are vital to a low-purine diet because most other sources of protein, such as meat, seafood and lentils, have high purine levels and should be avoided. The University of Rochester recommends individuals on low-purine diets eat eggs as a meat substitute.
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