Almonds are excellent for your overall health. They help protect your heart, reduce the risk of diabetes and may help you lose weight (if you need to) as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. It gets even better… they’re safe to eat with gout and may even help to reduce the risk of recurrent gout attacks. Just be careful how you eat them!
Almonds and Gout
Before we take a look at how almonds may reduce your risk of gout here’s a quick rundown of what gout is…
Gout is one of the most painful forms of inflammatory arthritis. It’s root cause is high uric acid levels in the blood out of which monosodium urate crystals form in your joints and associated tissue.
The body’s natural inflammatory response to these crystals gives rise to the typical symptoms of gout flares (attacks):
- tight shiny red skin
- warm/hot to the touch
- severe pain
An attack can occur in any joint, but the majority of times it’s in the joint at the base of the big toe.
Uric acid is a waste product formed when natural chemical compounds called purines — in the body’s cells and in the cells of the food we eat — breakdown during metabolism. So the more purines in our system, the more uric acid is produced.
Which is why gout patients have to be mindful of the amount of purines they consume from food.
Gout sufferers are usually advised to change to a low-purine diet which means avoiding high-purine foods (like organ meats, wild game, and a lot of seafood) and limiting moderate-purine foods (such as red meat, poultry, and some seafood).
Low-purine foods, such as most vegetables, fresh fruits, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and even some types of seafood, are encouraged.
Now let’s take a look at almonds…
The almond isn’t a true nut; it’s actually an edible seed from the fruit of the almond tree. Originally native to Iran, almonds are now cultivated in many countries including, for example, the United States (the world’s largest producer), Europe, Australia, Turkey, Chile and Vietnam.
Almonds are a rich source of fiber and protein. And, although they are high in fats, they’re largely healthy fats: monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that studies have shown help to protect the heart.
Almonds are a great source of:
They’re also rich in vitamin E and the B vitamins:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate)
In addition, the flavonoids in almonds such as catechin, epicatechin and kaempferol, are powerful antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals in the body which are linked to several diseases, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancers.
Almonds are Good for Your Overall Health
Studies have shown that nuts, such as almonds, can reduce LDL (“bad” cholesterol) while maintaining HDL (“good” cholesterol), and lower the risk of heart disease.
One study has associated regular almond consumption with reduced blood sugar and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, there’s some research which shows that regular almond consumption, as part of a well-balanced diet, may help you lose weight. It’s believed the high protein and fiber content in almonds helps to suppress appetite by helping you feel satisfied for longer. (This is important for gout sufferers since being overweight is a major trigger for gout.)
Almonds, along with other tree nuts, are integral to the so-called “Mediterranean diet” which studies have associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.
So almonds really are a healthy food choice. They can help reduce the risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as helping you lose weight (as part of a well-balanced, healthy diet).
But what if you have gout?
Are Almonds Safe in a Gout Diet?
Almonds are a low-purine food. They produce less than 100 mg of uric acid per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving. So almonds are safe to add into a gout-friendly diet.
But, not only are almonds safe for gout, they may actually help reduce the risk of recurrent gout attacks.
At least one study has associated almond consumption with a reduction in serum uric acid. The 2016 study looked into the effect of almond supplementation on serum uric acid levels in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). The research team discovered that almonds help to protect CAD patients’ vascular systems by reducing blood uric acid levels.
Now, although this research was carried out on CAD patients, the underlying principle holds true for gout patients too: almond supplementation reduces serum uric acid levels. And, as we know, lower uric acid means a lower risk of gout.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. For example, a study by the University of Toronto, published in 2005, found that a healthy diet that includes almonds lowers C-reactive protein, a key marker for inflammation.
And, as you saw earlier, almonds help to suppress the appetite and may help you lose weight as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Remember, being overweight is a high risk factor for gout.
So, overall, almonds are a very good choice for a low-purine diet.
How to Eat Almonds if You Suffer with Gout
It’s best to eat almonds raw. Try to avoid roasted, salted, and added flavorings that can push up calories, sugar, and sodium.
However, although otherwise very healthy, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t go overboard with almonds:
- Although in the minority, they still have unhealthy saturated fats that can cause weight gain when taken to excess.
- They may interfere with some medications such as blood thinners, antipsychotic drugs, laxatives, and antacids.
- Eating too many can impair the blood clotting process and raise the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
- Overindulgence can cause abdominal bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
And be careful of oxalate in almonds…
Another important reason not to go crazy with almonds is oxalate. Oxalate is an organic compound that can combine with calcium to form kidney stones. It’s found in plant foods at varying concentrations. So people at risk of kidney stones are usually advised to change to a low oxalate diet. Unfortunately, almonds are high in oxalate.
So, although the FDA recommends up to 1.5 oz of whole shelled almonds a day, it’s perhaps safer to stick to 1.0 oz per day — 23 whole almonds or 1/4 cup — which can be consumed in one go or by snacking throughout the day. Or they can be added to other dishes in your gout diet, for example, in your breakfast cereal or yogurt.
But, if you’re in the high risk group for kidney stones, limit your intake to 10 almonds a day, or, avoid them altogether, especially if you’ve a history of calcium-oxalate kidney stones. Seek advice from your doctor.
Who Should Not Eat Nuts
If you have a nut allergy, or suspect you have a nut allergy (consult your doctor or healthcare professional to confirm), you should scrupulously avoid nuts and food items that contain even the minutest trace of nuts.