Chicken and Gout: How Much to Eat and Cooking Tips

Nutritional value and purine content in chicken

Chicken is a type of lean meat with high nutritional value. But if you have gout (also called gouty arthritis), you need to be careful about:

  • The cuts you choose
  • How much you eat
  • How you prepare it

Gout involves a build-up of uric acid in your body. That leads to the formation of uric acid crystals in your joints, which causes sudden, extreme pain and inflammation.

Uric acid comes from purines. Those are chemicals in every cell of your body and in many foods. Research suggests excess purine intake causes high uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) and gout. The condition can be extremely painful and even disabling.

This article looks at the nutritional value of chicken, the best cuts to choose for preventing gout flares, and how to cook it.

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. It's also packed with essential nutrients required for a healthy metabolism. Those include:

Unlike red meats, poultry—and particularly a boneless, skinless 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. The obesity epidemic has even been blamed for an increased prevalence of gout.

Chicken: Nutrition Facts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says a 3-ounce (85g) serving of grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast includes:

  •  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 recommends choosing poultry (and fish) without skin and preparing them in healthy ways. That means without added saturated and trans fat.

The AHA says nutrient-dense foods like chicken may help you control your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

But is chicken safe when you have gout? It depends on the cut and its purine content.

Recap

Chicken is considered a lean and healthy choice, especially if you take off the skin. It may help with weight loss and maintenance goals. Whether it's safe with gout depends on the cut.

Gout-Friendly Cuts

The basic nutritional value differs between chicken breasts, thighs, and wings. The purine content of different parts also varies.

If you have gout and hyperuricemia, it's important to consider the types and amounts of purines you take in. One of the most important purines to watch for is hypoxanthine.

Chicken is mostly a moderate-purine food. But the amount of purines in specific cuts ranges from low to very high. You should avoid purine-rich organ meats like chicken liver and only eat moderate amounts of moderate-purine cuts.

The American Dietetic Association defines high-purine foods as having a total purine content of 150-1000 mg/100g.

Purines in Chicken
CHICKEN CUTS (100g) TOTAL PURINE CONTENT RANGE
Buttocks 68.8 mg Low
Leg 122.9 mg Moderate
Wing 137.5 mg Moderate
Breast, skinless 141.2 mg Moderate
Liver < 300 mg High

The specific purine breakdown is also good information to help you make informed choices. Be wary of foods high in adenine and hypoxanthine in particular. Studies suggest these purines 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

Recap

Cuts of chicken range from low to high in purines. Liver has the most. Buttocks have the least. The purines adenine and hypoxanthine have significant ties to gout.

Gout-Friendly Cooking Tips

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

First, remove the skin. It contains additional purines and unhealthy fats. Next, research suggests rinsing and cooking the chicken in water can significantly reduce total purine content.

Cooking in general, whether by moist heat (boiling) or dry heat (broiling), has been found to have similar effects on total purine content. It slightly increases adenine and guanine and decreases hypoxanthine.

What to Avoid

You should avoid the following if you have gout:

  • Alcohol (e.g., beer-battered fried food)
  • High-fat dairy (e.g., Alfredo sauce)
  • Animal fat (e.g., cooking in bacon grease)

Cooking reduces purine content in chicken partly because they are released into the juices. This is why gravy or stew and soup bases are labeled purine-rich and should be avoided if you have gout.

Grilling and frying maintain moisture levels and purine content. Stewing meat means the released purines are absorbed into your stock. 

The types of oils, marinades, sauces you use to season and cook your chicken also play an important role in gout. Opt for high-quality plant oils with anti-inflammatory properties. These include extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil.

Season with anti-inflammatory foods and flavors, such as:

The purine content in chicken is also affected by storage temperatures and duration. A lower storage temperature and shorter time in the freezer may reduce enzyme activity and overall purine content in shrimp. It's suspected of being similar for chicken.

Summary

Chicken is a lean, healthy type of protein. It may help you lose weight and keep it off. But it does have purines, which are bad for someone with gout.

Chicken liver has the highest purine levels while buttocks have the least. Breasts, wings, and legs are all moderate-purine cuts.

When cooking chicken, remove the skin, and rinse and cook it in water. Avoid gravies, soups, and stews.

A Word From Verywell

The sudden, severe pain of a gout flare can derail your life. By changing your diet and watching purines, you may be able to avoid flares or make them less severe.

If you're having trouble managing your diet, talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to help or refer you to a nutritionist.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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