Seafood and Gout – Taking Precautions

Many of us have been guilty of going out to restaurants like Long John Silver’s or Red Lobster and having seafood meals that we thought were great for us at the time.

Little did we know though that these seafood meals became one of the main reasons why we developed gout attacks.

It has been proven through research that seafood and gout don’t mix in almost all cases, but how much precaution should one take when dealing with seafood?

Seafood and Gout – Bad Mix

Purine is one of the main contributing factors to developing a gout attack. This naturally occurring substance comes from the ingested food in your everyday diet.

Purines are broken down into uric acid crystals, which are carried to the kidney through the bloodstream.

Excessive uric acid levels are caused by the consumption of foods rich in purines and by kidneys that are poorly functioning.Tempura Prawns On A Plate

The joints receive the deposits of these crystals and that is where the pain and the flare ups are felt.

Seafood that is considered to be high in purines would be items that contain anywhere from 150 to 825 milligrams of such compounds per 100 grams.

Many types of fish unfortunately fall into this category, such as trout, tuna, sardines, herring, and anchovies.

Out of all these, sardines are the largest culprits as they contain 345 milligrams of purine content. Ranking second in the group is trout with 297 milligrams.

Following that is tuna with 257 milligrams, anchovies with 239 milligrams, and various kinds of herring that contain 190 to 219 milligrams.

According to Dr. John McDougall fish is a food that is high in fat, and fish fat is famous for paralyzing insulin actions and increasing the development of high blood sugars and the condition of diabetes.

McDougall also states that there is evidence to support the theory that omega-3 fat found in fish will increase one’s risk of developing cancer or metastasis.

However, it is important to note that fish oils and oily fish shouldn’t be confused as the same thing.

Fish such as sardines and roe are high in protein, and according to Dr. Phillip Helliwell, uric acid is an end product of protein metabolism, which is the cause of gout.

McDougall’s research has found that fish is high in cholesterol. With a base of 100 grams various kinds of fish measured fairly high compared to other meats.

Mackerel contains 95 milligrams of cholesterol, haddock has 65 milligrams, tuna has 63 milligrams and halibut has 50 milligrams.

McDougall also points out that fish and other kinds of seafood contain sulfur, which is known to taint well waters.

Out of all, the fish cod is the biggest villain as it contains 676 milligrams of sulfur (also known as Methionine) per 100 calories.

Mackerel follows cod with 574 milligrams, then bass with 529 milligrams, and then salmon with 500 milligrams.

The connections between seafood and gout don’t stop with fish as crab contains 565 milligrams of sulfur. Crab is also high in purines as it contains 175.4 milligrams of uric acid.

A study was conducted on a Chinese population living in Singapore where protein intake of foods like poultry, fish and shellfish ended up being associated with an increased risk of gout.

An estimated 63,000 Chinese adults ages 45 to 74 originally participated in this study, and the consumption between fish and red meat among these participants were nearly identical.

Other seafood options like shrimp are not considered healthy food options.

According to PETA, shrimp are historically known as “bottom feeders” in the ocean, feeding off parasites and skin that they get from dead animals.

A serving of 100 grams worth of shrimp (which is 4 to 5 shrimp) amounts to an amazing 152 milligrams of cholesterol.

Brown shrimp can contain a maximum of 234 milligrams of purines in uric acid, which doesn’t help one’s cause in reducing the risk of gout.

Mercury is also another unfortunate obstacle to avoid when considering eating fish.  Mercury intake can also play a role in allowing gout flare ups to become normal occurrences.

Various types of tuna have this issue as their maximum concentration of mercury can range anywhere from 0.853 PPM to 1.816 PPM, according to the FDA.

Fish Isn’t All That Bad

Research indicates that the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish can have a positive impact on your body.

These acids were found to suppress inflammation and were also associated with a lowered incidence of gout attacks.

While keeping in mind that fishes themselves cannot produce omega-3, as this acid is developed from plants, eating fish in moderation can help your body repair itself.

One type of fish that is very friendly towards your body would be salmon. In a 2007 newsletter Dr. McDougall notes that 43% of calories of proteins can be found in salmon.

If you are looking to get away from seafood this may be concerning but if you steadily eat fish in moderation without experiencing gout attacks then you may want to incorporate salmon into your diet, such as having pieces of salmon in salads.

Salmon contains a mineral that promotes immune system health in the human body, and that mineral would be selenium.

This mineral keeps a person’s thyroid working properly while it destroys free radicals, harmful chemicals in your body that can play a part in gout attacks.

It is recommended to have at least 55 micrograms of selenium each day, and a 3-ounce serving of salmon amounts to 44 of those micrograms.

Having Seafood In Moderation

There are many ways to prepare a healthy meal that won’t disrupt your attempts of lowering your risk of gout. Having pieces of fish or seafood for a meal on a single day won’t take you off track.

Salmon can work well in a meal if it’s surrounded by fruits and vegetables, like various salads.

Having a substance like apple cider vinegar serve as a dressing for this salad would help your body.

While there are obvious signs that point to seafood and gout having strong ties, the key to avoiding gout flare ups is to maintain a healthy lifestyle that involves a nutritious and balanced diet.

If you are worried about high purine levels in fish, remember that your uric acid levels won’t lower more than 1 milligram even if you are on a strict low purine diet.


Establishing a daily diet that prevents gout flare ups should not include heavy amounts of fish.

However, to say that there is no way of getting past the ties that bind seafood and gout and that having fish on the side occasionally would be bad, isn’t totally correct.

Omega-3 fatty acids that are in fish are beneficial for the human body, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids.

These acids demonstrate various anti-inflammatory effects, such as decreasing morning stiffness and tender joint counts in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Having fish meat like salmon as part of healthy meals allows for a good change of pace in one’s diet. In the span of a week a day can be set aside for light eating of fish so that the body doesn’t get too used to the same foods every day.


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