Oatmeal and Gout: Pros, Cons, and Recommendations

Purine content in oatmeal increases risk of a gout attack

Oatmeal is a high-fiber cereal grain packed with antioxidants. However, if you have gout (also known as gouty arthritis) you should limit your intake to reduce the risk of a flare-up (gout attack). Oatmeal can make gout worse because of its purine content (50-150 mg purine per 100 g).

For people who are susceptible, high purine intake can cause elevated blood levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia) and result in a gout attack due to uric acid crystal accumulation in the joints. That's why people with gout should avoid purine-containing foods or consume them in moderation.

Oatmeal porridge in bowl

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Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts

Oatmeal is associated with cardiovascular health benefits. Namely, the consumption of whole-grain oats is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. It is rich in vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium, and zinc. 

Oatmeal can help if you are trying to lose weight and maintain weight loss, thanks to its high water and soluble fiber content. Maintaining a healthy weight is also one of the most important lifestyle factors for gout treatment.

Oatmeal: Nutrition Facts

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw oats contain the following nutrition information per 100g or 3.5 ounces:

  • Calories: 379
  • Protein: 13.15 g
  • Carbs: 67.7 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 10.1 g
  • Fat: 6.5 g
  • Calcium: 52 mg
  • Iron: 4.25 mg
  • Magnesium: 138 mg
  • Potassium: 362 mg
  • Sodium: 6 mg

Oatmeal and Gout

Oatmeal is not as high in purines as other foods like seafood, organ meats, and alcohol, but experts say it's within the moderate purine range and recommend that people who have gout eat no more than two servings per week. A single serving of cooked oats is half a cup or 4 ounces (125 ml).

Moderating and reducing the purines you consume can help maintain healthy uric acid levels and prevent gout attacks if you have gout or kidney disease. The recommended daily intake of dietary purines in Japan is less than 400 mg to prevent gout and hyperuricemia.

One study included oatmeal in their purine-rich vegetable group and found no association between a moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables and increased risk of gout. This finding is consistent with the categorization of oatmeal as a moderate purine food.

A Better Oatmeal

Because of its many health benefits, it's a good idea to keep oatmeal in your diet. But if you have gout, you may need to make some modifications to how much you eat (and how you eat it) to prevent a gout attack:

  • Limit servings: Oatmeal should only be consumed twice a week maximum
  • Keep portions under control: Add a measuring scoop to your bulk dry oats for accuracy
  • Be mindful of different oatmeal varieties: Processed oatmeals may contain other ingredients that add to your total purine intake—like barley, wheat, or rye
  • Reduce other purine-rich foods in your diet: Deep-fried foods and alcohol are high in purines and they don't have the health benefits of oatmeal
  • Watch the toppings: Popular oatmeal pairings like cream, sugar or honey, and sweetened yogurts are high in purines
  • Add gout-friendly foods and spices: Cherries, in particular (frozen or fresh), are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for people who have gout.
  • Be sure to drink enough water throughout the day: Staying hydrated helps your kidneys efficiently excrete excess uric acid
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about gout medications: While dietary changes are your first line of defense, some cases of gout require medication to block the production of uric acid. These include allopurinol (Aloprim, Lopurin, Zyloprim), and Uloric (febuxostat), which are xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs).

Other Foods to Eat to Manage Gout

Instead of oatmeal, you can try:

  • Fresh fruit smoothies made with plant-based milk
  • Homemade oat and cherry muffins
  • A Mediterranean breakfast

A Mediterranean diet involves choosing fruit, nuts and seeds, whole grains and cereals, potatoes, herbs and spices, and extra-virgin olive oil. It has consistently been associated with disease reduction. One study linked the diet to a reduced risk of gout attacks.

A Word From Verywell

Maintaining a gout diet means taking into account the total purine content of your typical daily and weekly menu and making some modifications. Eating a gout-appropriate diet is the easiest way to avoid a gout attack, and it's something that is within your control. Oatmeal is packed with nutrients that can benefit your heart health. While you don’t need to avoid oatmeal, you should consider how the purine content adds up with the rest of what you’re eating. If you’re unsure about what to eat to manage gout, talk to your healthcare provider or dietician.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are purines?

    Purines are a naturally-occurring chemical compound that help our bodies create uric acid. Too much uric acid can lead to a gout attack, but the body needs a steady amount of it to protect blood vessels. This is why people with gout may wish to limit their consumption of purine-rich foods like red meat, certain fish, and sugary foods. Oatmeal contains a moderate amount of purines, but its consumption should still be limited to twice a week to prevent a gout attack.

  • What is the difference between gout and arthritis?

    Gout is one type of arthritis, but there are multiple types of arthritis that can affect different areas of the body. When an excessive number of uric acid crystals form in the joints, it can cause pain and swelling, leading to gout. It usually starts in the big toe, but gout can move on to affect the bursae, joints, kidneys, and tendon sheathes.

9 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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By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.