Chicken and Gout: How Much to Eat and Cooking Tips

Nutritional value and purine content in chicken

Chicken is a lean meat with high nutritional value, but people with gout (excess uric acid in the body), also known as gouty arthritis, need to be careful about the cuts they choose, how much they eat, and how they prepare their chicken. Moderation is a key.

If you have gout, you need to consume chicken carefully. Chicken has a considerable amount of purines, chemical substances found in every cell in our body and a lot of foods. A healthy supply of purines can protect blood vessels, but an excessive amount can cause flare-ups in gout. Research has shown that excess purine intake causes high uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) and result in uric acid crystals in your joints (typically in the big toe), which can be extremely painful and even disabling.

Gout-Friendly Cooking Tips

Theresa Chiechi / Verywell

The Nutritional Value of Chicken

Unseasoned chicken is a low-sodium, sugar-and-starch-free, high-protein food choice that packs essential nutrients required for healthy metabolism, including antioxidant B vitamins (B6 and niacin) and minerals like selenium and phosphorus. Unlike red meats, poultry, and particularly skinless, boneless chicken breast, has become a go-to animal protein for people looking to eat healthier, lose or maintain weight, and reduce their risk of disease.

Weight maintenance is one of the most important lifestyle modifications for people with gout, and the obesity epidemic has even been blamed for the high prevalence of gout. People who have gout also need to reduce the amount of purines in their diet.

Chicken: Nutrition Facts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides the following nutritional information for one 3-ounce (85g) serving of grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast.

 The breakdown is as follows:

  • Calories: 128
  • Fat: 2.7g
  • Sodium: 44mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 26g

Note the 3-ounce serving size is smaller than what you'll find conventionally packaged in stores.

The American Heart Association also recommends choosing poultry and fish without skin and preparing them in healthy ways without added saturated and trans fat. They say nutrient-dense foods like chicken may help you control your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

So is chicken safe to eat when you have gout? It all depends on the cut and its purine content.

Best Cuts

The basic nutritional value differ between breasts, thighs, and wings. The purine content also varies in different parts of the chicken. For people with gout and hyperuricemia, the amount of total purines and the types of purines consumed, particularly hypoxanthine, are important considerations.

In Japan, guidelines for the management of hyperuricemia and gout recommend reduced intake of dietary purines to less than 400 mg/day.

Chicken is mostly a moderate-purine food, but the amount of purines in cuts do range from low to very high. People with gout are advised to avoid organ meats like chicken liver and only eat moderate-purine foods in sensible portions.

According to the American Dietetic Association, high-purine foods have a total purine content of 150-1000 mg/100g, and it is recommended that people who have gout or hyperuricemia avoid these foods.

Purines in Chicken
Type of Chicken Total Purine Content Range
Buttocks 68.8 mg Low
Breast, skinless 141.2 mg Moderate
Wing 137.5 mg Moderate
Leg 122.9 mg Moderate
Liver < 300 mg High
per 100g

The specific purine breakdown is also good information to help you make informed choices. You want to be wary of foods high in adenine and hypoxanthine in particular since these purines in particular have been shown to have a significant association with gout.

Breakdown of Purines in Chicken

Poultry

  • Adenine 30
  • Guanine 30
  • Hypoxanthine 18
  • Xanthine 18 

Poultry (other than organs)

  • Adenine 335
  • Guanine 335
  • Hypoxanthine 335
  • Xanthine 135

Gout-Friendly Cooking Tips

You can reduce the total purine content in your next chicken dish by following a few gout-friendly cooking guidelines. 

The first thing you can do is remove the skin as it contains additional purines and unhealthy fats. Next, researchers suggest that rinsing and cooking the chicken in water can significantly reduce total purine content of certain animal proteins like fish, making it more suitable for people with gout to consume.

Cooking in general, whether by moist heat (boiling) or dry heat (broiling), has been found to have similar effects on total purine content. It increases adenine and guanine slightly and decreases hypoxanthine compared with raw foods. Cooking reduces purine content in chicken partly because they are released into the juices. This is why certain sauces like gravy or stew and soup bases are seen as purine-rich and why they should be avoided in people with gout. Cooking chicken by way of frying and grilling maintains the moisture level (and purine content) and stewing it means the released purines are absorbed into your stock. 

What to Avoid

You should avoid the follow if you have gout:

  • Alcohol (ex. Don’t beer batter your fish)
  • High-fat dairy (ex. Alfredo sauce)
  • Animal fat (ex. Cooking with bacon grease)

The types of oils, marinades, sauces you use to season and cook your chicken also play an important role for people with gout. Opt for high-quality plant oils with anti-inflammatory properties like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. These oils can be used in cooking and marinating chicken. Season with anti-inflammatory foods and flavors from chile peppers, tomatoes, turmeric, and more. 

The purine content in chicken is also affected by storage temperatures and duration. A lower storage temperature and storage duration have been found to reduce enzyme activity and overall purine content in shrimp, suggesting similar results may be the case for chicken.

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Article Sources
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