Food Swaps for Gout-Friendly Recipes

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Gout is an excruciating form of arthritis that's possible to manage using the right dietary tweaks. Gout attacks are caused by purines, a chemical compound found in certain foods and in the body. The metabolism of purines raises uric acid in the blood, which builds up as painful crystals in the joints.

If you've ever suffered from a gout attack, you'd probably be willing to do just about anything to prevent it from happening again. Luckily, there are plenty of simple swaps that can make a significant difference.

A person touching a to-go coffee cup

Nitat Termmee / Getty Images

Reducing your purine intake, avoiding alcohol, cutting back on high-fructose corn syrup, and getting more fiber to help maintain a healthy weight are all good strategies to adjust your meal plan and keep gout from ruining your night.

Food Swaps
 Eat This Instead of This
Tofu Chicken
Bean burgers Hamburgers
Shrimp (in moderation) Scallops
Nonalcoholic beverages Beer, wine, or cocktails
Coffee with milk Soda
Fresh or frozen cherries Processed treats
Zoodles or spaghetti squash Regular pasta noodles
Brown rice White rice

Meat Swaps

One of the biggest dietary contributors to an elevated uric acid level is meat. Animal proteins, especially organ meats like liver, are high in purines. If you have gout, cutting back on meat overall is a good idea. Practice bulking up a larger percentage of your plate with plant foods and using high-protein selections as a side dish or appetizer portion.

However, many people wonder how they'll get enough protein if they eat less meat. Tofu is a lower-purine alternative that has plenty of complete protein and works well in many traditionally meat-based dishes. You can add tofu to vegetarian stews and chili or cube and sauté it in stir-fry recipes.

Beans and lentils can make great substitutes for meat if you're cooking soups or vegetarian burgers. Not only do beans provide some protein, but they also have a healthy dose of filling fiber and essential micronutrients.

For a meatless meal that your whole family will enjoy, try cultural recipes inspired by Mexican or Indian cuisine. Tasty bean burritos or a zesty curry dish make skipping meat an easy choice.

Dairy foods and eggs are also good options to consume sufficient protein without raising your risk of gout. Choose omelets with sautéed veggies, low-fat cottage cheese, boiled eggs, or Greek yogurt.

Carbohydrate Swaps

Carbohydrates aren't necessarily high in purines. However, choosing healthier carbohydrate foods is one way to avoid excess weight gain. Since obesity is an established risk factor for gout, developing habits that help you maintain a healthy weight is a sound strategy for gout prevention.

When shopping for carbohydrate foods, choosing whole grains over refined grains provides more fiber. Fiber is associated with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These health benefits go hand-in-hand with successfully preventing and managing gout.

You can also improve the nutritional quality of your meal plan by replacing some of the high-carbohydrate foods with vegetable alternatives.

Experiment with spiralized zucchini (zoodles) or spaghetti squash in place of regular wheat pasta. Instead of white rice, look for "riced cauliflower" in the frozen or refrigerated sections of your local grocery store.

Swapping out some carbohydrates for veggies adds a greater variety of textures, colors, and nutrients while helping you achieve the recommended vegetable intake.

High-Purine Seafood Swaps

Finding safe seafood options is tricky when you have gout. Many types of seafood, including fish and shellfish, are some of the worst offenders when it comes to purine content. Several seafood selections that would otherwise be considered "healthy choices" are better avoided for those with gout.

Higher-purine types of seafood include:

  • Anchovies
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Mussels
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Trout
  • Tuna

While there are no real "purine-free" seafood options, you can swap some of the higher-purine choices from above for moderate-purine crab, lobster, oysters, and shrimp. Instead of making seafood the main part of your meal, use it in moderation as an ingredient in pasta dishes or on top of salads.

High-Fructose Food Swaps

High-fructose corn syrup is found in the majority of processed foods. Always check food labels for high-fructose corn syrup since it is known to elevate uric acid levels.

Honey and agave are also high in fructose. Maple syrup and table sugar aren't as high (but should still be used in limited amounts). Replace processed desserts with gout-friendly whole fruits, especially frozen or fresh cherries.

Alcohol Swaps

Having a few alcoholic drinks is one of the quickest ways to end up with a gout attack. To stay on the safe side, your best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether. However, the current recommendations suggest a maximum of one alcoholic drink for women and two alcoholic drinks for men over the course of 24 hours.

Trade-up your alcoholic beverage for a sophisticated mocktail or nonalcoholic beer or wine. You can also make a spritzer with club soda to cut back on the alcohol content of your drink. Be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water, especially if you're drinking alcohol.

Soda Swaps

Soda is another major contributor to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and gout. Unfortunately, kicking a regular soda habit can be challenging. The combination of sugar and caffeine can make it difficult to wean yourself off.

If it's the caffeine you crave, coffee and tea are better options for managing gout. Many herbal teas have a natural sweetness that can add flavor to your beverage without the high-fructose corn syrup found in sodas. It's OK to put some cream and sugar in your coffee, but try to limit these add-ons by swapping in a splash of milk instead.

It's a common misconception that dairy isn't good for gout. Some dairy foods, including milk, help your body get rid of uric acid and can be beneficial for people with gout.

A Word From Verywell

A painful gout attack can leave you wondering if any foods are still safe to eat. However, there are plenty of tasty and nutritious options that can improve your health and reduce gout symptoms. Trying new foods and recipes doesn't have to be a daunting task. Start with simple swaps to modify your intake one ingredient at a time.

8 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.
  1. Tufts University. Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Dietary strategies against gout.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Gout: prevention.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gout.

  4. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Fiber.

  5. Roubenoff R. Arthritis Foundation. Which foods are safe for gout?.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. 6 answers to gout diet myths.

  7. Dunkin MA. Shopping list for gout. Arthritis Foundation.

  8. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Sugary drinks.

By Anastasia Climan, RDN, CD-N
Anastasia, RDN, CD-N, is a writer and award-winning healthy lifestyle coach who specializes in transforming complex medical concepts into accessible health content.