Uric acid is an important antioxidant in the human body. It helps prevent damage to the blood vessels. Uric acid is found naturally in some foods but is also produced when the kidneys break down purines that are found in a wide variety of foods. The consumption of foods that are high in purines can be problematic for people with kidney problems and can lead to the development of a form of arthritis known as gout. The average person need not be concerned with consuming foods containing uric acid and purines. However, gout sufferers should limit their intake to reduce the effects of the disease.
Animal Meats and Seafood
Animal meats such as beef, chicken, pork and seafood contain significant amounts of purines and uric acid. Red meats contain more than poultry and ham. However, poultry and ham still contain enough to cause inflammation in gout sufferers and should be eaten in moderation. Bacon should be avoided because it contains very high levels of purines due to the way it is processed. Organ meats like kidneys, liver, brains and sweetbreads contain the highest amount of purines at 1,000 mg or more per 99.2gr. serving. Sardines, herring, mackerel and mussels are seafoods that contain similar amounts of purines.
Alcohol and Yeast
Foods that contain high amounts of yeast also contain high amounts of purines. Even though most breads we consume contain yeast, they do not contain enough to change the levels of uric acid in the blood and do not have to be avoided. Uric acid is found naturally in alcohol, and some alcoholic beverages such as beer contain yeast. This means alcohol should be avoided by people with kidney problems or gout.
Vegetables and Legumes
Certain vegetables and legumes contain significant amounts of purines but are not as detrimental as purines found in meats, fish and yeast. Vegetables that contain 5 to 100 mg of purines per 99.2gr. serving include asparagus, cauliflower and spinach. Legumes that contain this amount of purines include kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, lentils and peas.
Cooking the vegetables seems to have little effect on the amount of purines. Therefore, gout sufferers can eat these vegetables and legumes cooked or raw as long as it is in moderation. Those who have no history of kidney problems should not worry about the amount of these vegetables and legumes they consume because plant-based purines do not effect the levels of uric acid in the body as much as meat-based purines do.