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Gout is a type of arthritis caused by the buildup of the chemical uric acid in your joints. It typically onsets suddenly and causes symptoms like intense joint pain, inflammation, and redness. The most common place to experience gout is in your big toes.

Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down chemicals called purines. Purines occur naturally in your body, but they’re also found in high concentrations in some foods. Overconsumption of these foods can potentially raise uric acid levels in your body and lead to the development of gout.

Studies have found that following a low purine diet can help you lower uric acid levels. But it can be difficult to know which foods are safe, since purine content isn’t readily available on the packaging of most foods.

Hummus and chickpeas are generally safe choices for people with gout. Keep reading as we take a closer look at the purine content of these two foods. We also provide you with a list of other safe foods, plus foods to avoid.

Purines are organic compounds found in your body that break down into uric acid. Minimizing the number of purines you get through your diet may reduce uric acid levels in your blood and reduce your chances of developing gout.

It’s recommended that people at risk of gout keep their daily purine consumption under 400 milligrams per day.

Chickpeas and hummus are generally low enough in purines that people with high uric acid levels can consume them safely.

Hummus originally comes from the Middle East. It typically contains chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. It’s often topped with olive oil, parsley, or paprika.

Chickpeas contain less than 50 milligrams of purines per 100-gram serving, which is considered relatively low.

The only other ingredient found in traditional hummus that contains a significant number of purines is parsley, which contains 200 to 300 milligrams per 100 grams. Parsley is usually sprinkled on top of hummus in very small amounts.

Purines in vegetables compared to meats

It appears that not all foods that contain purines act the same way in your body.

According to a 2017 review of studies published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine,researchers have found that consuming a diet high in meat and seafood is associated with higher levels of uric acids and a higher risk of developing gout.

However, there’s evidence that a diet moderately high in purine-rich vegetables like peas, beans, lentils, spinach, mushroom, and asparagus isn’t associated with increased uric acid levels.

It’s not clear why purine-rich vegetables don’t seem to increase the risk of developing gout, but some researchers think it’s related to the fiber content of these foods.

According to the same review of studies, researchers have found evidence that following a purine-rich diet for 1 to 2 weeks produces only a small rise in uric acid levels, while low purine diets slightly reduce uric acid levels.

Due to the impracticality of strictly measuring purine levels, people at risk of developing gout should focus on eating an adequate number of calories and keeping their weight in a healthy range, while eating meat and seafood in moderation.

According to a 2019 review of studies published in Nutrients,the majority of studies show a reduced risk of developing gout in people who eat vegetarian diets. Including hummus in your diet is a great way to add nutrients to your diet while keeping purine levels low.

A 3.5-ounce serving of hummus contains more than 10 percent of your Daily Value (DV) of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • manganese (39 percent)
  • copper (26 percent)
  • folate (21 percent)
  • magnesium (18 percent)
  • phosphorus (18 percent)
  • iron (14 percent)
  • zinc (12 percent)
  • thiamin (12 percent)
  • vitamin B6 (10 percent)

There are 7.9 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in 3.5 ounces of hummus.

To minimize the number of purines in your hummus, choose a type that doesn’t have parsley in it.

The best foods for people with gout are minimally processed foods that contain lots of nutrients.

Eating a typical Western diet high in red and processed meats, refined grains, and sugar is associated with a 42 percent chance of developing gout. Following a Mediterranean diet is linked with a reduced risk of developing gout.

The Mediterranean diet is the traditional style of eating in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece. People living in these countries typically eat mostly:

  • whole grains
  • nuts and seeds
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • legumes
  • poultry
  • fish and seafood
  • eggs
  • dairy
  • herbs and spices
  • healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and avocado

Most of these foods make good options for people with gout.

Salmon, in particular, is relatively low in purines compared to other fish and seafood.

There’s a limited amount of evidence that vitamin C may lower uric acid levels, but more substantial research is needed to back this claim.

High purine foods that people at risk of gout should avoid or minimize include:

  • organ meats
  • bacon
  • game meats except for pheasant, venison, and veal
  • some types of fish, including:
    • herring
    • trout
    • sardines
    • anchovies
    • haddock
    • tuna
  • some types of seafood, including:
    • scallops
    • crab
    • shrimp
    • roe
  • added sugar
  • sugary drinks
  • yeast
  • alcohol (especially beer)

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of the chemical uric acid. Avoiding foods high in purines may help you reduce uric acid levels and minimize your chances of developing gout.

Hummus and chickpeas are relatively low in purines and are generally safe for people with high uric acid levels.

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet, with a moderate consumption of fish and poultry, is associated with a lower chance of developing gout compared to a traditional Western diet.