Almonds and gout: Discover what it is about almonds that make them so good for you and why you should add them into your gout diet. Not only do almonds help to protect your heart and reduce the risk of diabetes, they may also help to reduce your risk of gout. Just don’t go overboard!
Almond Health Benefits
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 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 cancer.
This impressive nutrient profile has been found to translate into several health benefits:
For example, studies have linked nuts, such as almonds, with a reduction in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) while maintaining HDL (“good” cholesterol), and a lower risk of heart disease.
One study has linked regular almond consumption with reduced blood sugar and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, there’s some research that 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.)
So almonds can help to reduce the risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as helping you to lose weight (as part of a healthy, balanced diet).
But what about if you have gout?
Almonds and Gout
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. It 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 our 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 in food.
Almond is classed as a low-purine food: less than 100 mg of uric acid produced per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving. So almonds are safe to add into your gout diet.
But, not only is it safe and nutritious, it may actually help your gout.
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 uric acid levels in the blood.
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 incident and recurrent gout.
How to Eat Almonds When You Have Gout
It’s best to eat almonds raw. Try to avoid roasted, salted, and added flavorings that can push up calories, sugar, and sodium.
But, 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.
Another important reason not to go crazy is oxalate. Oxalate is an organic compound — found in plant foods at varying concentrations — that can combine with calcium to form kidney stones. 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 0z of whole shelled almonds a day, it’s perhaps safer to stick to 1.0 oz per day — 1/4 cup or 22 almonds — which can be consumed in one go or by snacking throughout the day. And, of course, they can also 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.
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.