How Food Can Help Treat Gout

Antioxidant-rich food (like cherries) and low-purine foods can ease gout

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Gout flare-ups are often related to diet. Helpful foods for gout include cherries, vitamin C-rich foods, and low-purine foods. Foods to avoid with gout include alcohol, yeast, and high-purine foods, like organ meat and shellfish.  

Gout attacks are extremely painful. A type of inflammatory arthritis, a gout attack can cause symptoms that last a few days or linger for weeks. Symptoms frequently return after subsiding. Modifying your diet may help shorten gout flare-ups. In fact, following a gout-friendly diet reduces the risk of gout attacks up to fivefold.

Foods to Eat and Avoid With Gout

Verywell / Alexandra Gordon

This article discusses food and gout. It explains how commonly recommended foods for gout are believed to help reduce symptoms. It also details food and drinks to avoid if you have gout.

Foods to Eat With Gout

Some foods can help lower uric acid levels, which can relieve gout flare-ups and prevent future attacks.

Gout occurs when a buildup of uric acid in the blood causes uric acid crystals to form in the joints. Uric acid is a waste byproduct of purine breakdown in the body. Purines are naturally produced in the body and are found in some foods.

When there are more purines in the body than it can process, uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This can cause gout in some people.

The following foods may help to ease gout by lowering uric acid levels or reducing purine intake.

Cherries

Cherries have been studied for their role in preventing and managing gout. Their deep red color is due to natural compounds called anthocyanins, which contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research has shown that cherry consumption may help reduce uric acid levels, thus decreasing inflammation and lowering the risk of future gout attacks. Tart cherries are the most commonly studied type for gout. More specifically, Montmorency or Balaton varieties.

Fresh, frozen, juice or extract forms are commonly consumed. However, there are no defined amounts to eat per day for gout prevention. Studies vary widely in the amounts of cherries researched, such as servings of 1/2 cup of fresh cherries or 1 cup of cherry juice per day.

For cherry extract supplements, it is best to follow the suggested dose amount on the label.

Using Tart Cherry Juice for Gout

Tart cherry juice may help decrease uric acid levels and inflammation in gout. Research is limited, with often small numbers of study participants and short-term follow-up.

Nevertheless, a 2019 review of six studies that looked at the effect of cherry juice or cherry extract intake on gout concluded that cherry intake was associated with a reduced risk of gout attacks. Researchers did note that larger, more long-term studies are needed to clarify this association.

When choosing tart cherry juice, be sure to look for unsweetened varieties to help reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet.

High-Vitamin C Foods

Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant, but it is lesser-known for its potential role in the treatment of gout. The means by which it may help is by lowering blood uric acid levels.

A prospective study published in 2009 followed nearly 47,000 men for 20 years and examined their risk of gout in relation to their vitamin C intake. The researchers concluded that higher vitamin C intake was associated with a lower risk of developing gout, with up to a 45% lower risk when consuming 1,500 milligrams or more of vitamin C per day.

A 2011 analysis of 13 randomized controlled clinical trials in people with high blood uric acid levels found that vitamin C supplementation with a median dose of 500 milligrams per day for a median duration of 30 days modestly reduced serum uric acid levels. Whether this amount is significant or not in reducing the risk of gout needs to be further studied.

Foods high in vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit
  • Cherries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Tomatoes

If you have an increased risk for kidney stones (particularly calcium oxalate stones), it is not recommended to consume high doses of supplemental vitamin C on a regular basis.

Coffee

Being one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, coffee has been studied for its various effects on health. Early studies suggest that coffee may decrease the risk of gout. However, research shows that it may vary based on sex.

A 2015 review of studies found that in men who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee per day had a 40% decreased risk of gout, and those who drank 6 cups or more per day had a 59% lower risk, when compared with no coffee consumption.

In women who drank 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily, the risk of gout was 22% lower, and in those who drank 4 or more cups daily the risk was 57% lower, compared with no coffee consumption. From this review, the researchers concluded that drinking 4 or more cups of coffee per day lowers uric acid levels and decreases the incidence of gout.

However, no research has explored the effects of coffee intake on the risk of recurrent gout attacks.

Low-Purine Foods

One of the most widely accepted and recommended dietary approaches in managing gout is to reduce purine intake from foods. By choosing to eat low-purine foods instead of those higher in purines, you can help prevent your blood uric acid levels from getting too high.

Additionally, the DASH diet, which encourages many low-purine foods, has been associated with a lower risk of gout.

Low-purine foods include:

  • Certain fruits, like cherries and citrus fruits
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Plant-based protein foods such as nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables.

What Are Purines?

Purines are naturally occurring chemical compounds. There are two types of purines: exogenous and endogenous. Those found in foods are called exogenous purines. Purines made by our body are called endogenous purines.

It is normal for the body to contain some purines at all times. When the body typically processes purines, uric acid is created as a byproduct, and either reabsorbed in the body or excreted as waste. High purine intake from foods may increase uric acid levels in your body, thus increasing the risk of gout.

Plant-Based Foods


Many plant-based foods are low in purines, making them an excellent choice for a gout-friendly diet. They also contain numerous health-promoting nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plant-based foods include:

  • Beans and other legumes
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Nut and vegetable-based oils
  • Seeds
  • Soy-based protein, such as tofu
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Plant-based vegetarian diets have been shown to decrease the risk of gout, according to two separate prospective cohort studies.

Some vegetables are higher in purines. However, the body processes plant-based purines differently. Research shows that plant-based purines do not increase the risk of gout and may actually decrease risk.

A 2019 review of plant-based diets and their association with gout suggested that reasonable consumption of higher purine plant foods as a part of a plant-based diet may be safely tolerated in healthy people.

Researchers noted that additional studies are needed in people with high uric acid levels, especially those who suffer from chronic kidney disease.

Low-Fat Dairy

Dairy products have been found to decrease the risk of gout. In particular low-fat or non-fat dairy may be protective against recurrent gout flares.

Low-fat dairy may decrease uric acid levels and contain certain anti-inflammatory properties that decrease the inflammatory response to monosodium urate crystals within the joint.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest 3 servings of dairy per day for healthy adults. This includes low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, or cottage cheese.

Water

Staying hydrated is key for people with gout. A 2017 prospective study looked at the association between water intake and uric acid levels.

After examining the data, researchers determined that water intake has an association with lower uric acid levels in people with gout, possibly due to increased uric acid excretion with higher water intake. However, more research is needed to look at a more direct effect of water intake on gout.

A review in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that excess sweating, such as after exercise or sauna bathing, decreased urinary excretion of uric acid, leading to an increase in uric acid levels. Therefore, researchers recommend drinking plenty of water to avoid increased serum uric acid levels after activities that cause heavy sweating.

Additionally, researchers also found that adequate water consumption in the 24-hour period before a gout flare was associated with a significant decrease in recurrent gout attacks.

Water is the best source of hydration, but other beverages such as coffee, and foods such as some fruits and vegetables, contain water and can contribute to your overall hydration status. Drinking to thirst is best, but some experts suggest drinking half of your body weight in ounces each day for optimal hydration.

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Foods to Avoid With Gout

Just as important to know which foods to add to your gout-friendly diet is knowing which foods to avoid. Below is a short summary of some foods to avoid with gout.

Alcohol

Gout has been associated with alcohol intake for centuries. Frequent and high alcohol consumption is known to cause chronic hyperuricemia, increasing the risk of gout and gout attacks. Because of this, it is recommended to avoid some alcohol altogether, including beer, hard liquor, and other grain alcohols.

Recent research has shown that not all alcohol needs to be avoided with gout, though.  Wine, when drunk in moderation and with meals, may not contribute to an increased risk of gout. Moderate consumption of wine is considered 2 (5-ounce) drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.

High-Purine Foods

Avoiding or limiting foods high in purines can help reduce the length of a gout attack, as well as the risk of recurrent gout flares. According to a 2014 study, acute purine intake increased the risk of recurrent gout attacks by nearly fivefold in people with gout.

High-purine foods include:

  • Alcoholic beverages such as beer and hard liquor
  • Certain seafood such as anchovies, sardines, shellfish, and tuna
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • High fructose fruits and juice
  • Organ meats such as beef, pork, and chicken liver
  • Wild game
  • Yeasts

High-Fructose Foods

Fructose is a naturally occurring form of sugar found in some foods, such as fruit. Research has shown that fructose, including high fructose corn syrup added to some foods and beverages, can increase serum uric acid levels. Avoiding or limiting foods high in these types of sugars may help reduce the symptoms and severity of gout.

Fructose is one of the main natural sugars in many fruits and juice. However, the association between gout and fruit intake is unclear. You do not need to avoid all fruit on a gout-friendly diet, though some fruit juices may need to be avoided or limited. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages can increase uric acid levels in the blood. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was significantly associated with an increased risk of gout and hyperuricemia in adults, according to a 2020 review of studies.

Sweetened beverages commonly include high fructose corn syrup. This includes soft drinks or soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. They should be avoided with gout.

Yeasts

Foods with yeasts and yeast extracts are high in purines and should not be included in your diet if you have gout. Foods such as vegemite, as well as supplements containing yeast, should be avoided in order to keep uric acid levels down.

Yeast extract can sometimes be found in prepared foods, such as some frozen meals, canned soups and stews, soy sauces, and salty snacks. 

A Word From Verywell


A healthy, balanced diet built around a variety of colorful, whole foods while limiting highly processed foods is beneficial for gout and overall health. Find out your individual gout triggers by trying out specific foods and amounts. This can go a long way in offering more flexibility to your diet.

As always, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or treatment plan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is purine and how does it affect gout?

    Purines are water-soluble molecules that are found in some foods and beverages. When purines are broken down during digestion, they create a byproduct known as uric acid, which is typically either reabsorbed in the body or excreted. Sometimes, uric acid can build up in the bloodstream and lead to hyperuricemia. In hyperuricemia, uric acid crystals can collect in certain joints, like the big toe, causing a gout flare. 

  • What foods help gout?

    The most popular remedy for gout is tart cherry juice, which may help to decrease uric acid levels and ease gout symptoms. Foods that are high in vitamin C can also lower the risk of a gout flare-up. Vitamin C-rich foods include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach, and kale. Low-fat dairy may also help to reduce gout risk and prevent recurrences. 

  • What foods can cause gout to flare up?

    Food and drinks that can cause a flare-up of gout include alcohol, beef, pork, chicken liver, wild game, sardines, anchovies, yeast, and beverages with high-fructose corn syrup, such as soda. 

  • Is cheese bad for people with gout?

    No, cheese is low in purines and should not irritate your gout. However, it is high in fat and calories, and should enjoyed in moderation. Research shows reducing calories to lose weight can help to lower uric acid levels.

  • What are the best fruits for gout?

    Cherries, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries are the best fruits to eat if you have gout. 

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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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Additional Reading
  • Nickolai B, Kiss C. Ernährungstherapie bei Gicht [Nutritional therapy of gout]. Ther Umsch. 2016;73(3):153-158. doi:10.1024/0040-5930/a000772

By Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CD, CDCES
Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CDCES, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.