Are apples good for gout? Read on to discover why the old adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ may be closer to the truth than you might think. Apples aren’t only beneficial for your overall health, they may also reduce the risk of agonizing gout flare-ups.
Apples and Gout
Originating in Central Asia, the apple tree (part of the rose family) is now grown right around the world.
It’s estimated there are 7,500 different varieties of apple grown worldwide. China is the largest producer, followed by the USA, Turkey, and Poland.
Apples are the second most popular fruit (after bananas) in the USA, the most popular in the UK and Australia, and the third most popular in Europe (after bananas and tomatoes).
Health Benefits of Apples
It seems there might be some truth in the old Welsh proverb ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’…
Apples (both red and green) are packed full of important vitamins and minerals, such as:
- vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K
They’re also loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants, and soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.
This highly nutritious package has a number of health benefits. Studies have suggested that apples may help reduce the risk of:
- heart disease
It’s thought that they may also reduce the risk of some cancers, such as breast, liver, pancreatic, and colon cancer.
Another study linked apple consumption with a reduction in bad cholesterol and a corresponding increase in good cholesterol.
And yet another study suggested that apples (particularly Granny Smiths) may help stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gut which, in turn, helps to boost the immune system.
So apples are a highly nutritious fruit with a wide range of health benefits.
But are they safe to eat with gout?
Are Apples Safe to Eat with Gout?
Gout attacks are caused by too high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream (a condition called ‘hyperuricemia’) which, over time, can lead to the appearance of uric acid crystals in joints and associated tissue.
It’s the body’s natural inflammatory response to these crystals that triggers a gout attack or flare-up. Typical gout symptoms include: inflammation, swelling, shiny red skin, warm to the touch, stiffness, and horrible joint pain.
Gout flare-ups occur mostly in the joint at the base of the big toe, but other joints can be affected too, for example, ankles, elbows, and knees, etc.
Uric acid is the end product of purine metabolism. Purines are natural chemical compounds found in the cells of all living things including we humans, the animal kingdom and plants.
Some 30% of the uric acid produced in our bodies comes from the food we consume. This is not an insignificant number so gout patients are usually advised by their healthcare provider to move to a low-purine diet.
This means avoiding high-purine foods, such as organ meats and wild game. Alcoholic beverages (especially beer) and sugary soft drinks and sodas should also be avoided since these are high risk factors for gout too.
A limited amount of red meat and poultry may be consumed as they generally have moderately-high purine concentrations.
Low-purine foods are things like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy (low-fat), potatoes, rice, pasta, and whole grains.
Most seafood is high in purines so should be avoided altogether, although limited amounts of moderate-purine fish, like cod and hake, may be consumed.
Some fish, such as monkfish and plaice, are relatively low in purines.
Where do apples fit in?
Apples’ Purine Content
An apple has around 14 mg of purines per 100 gm of the fruit, and an average-sized apple weighs somewhere between 70 mg – 100 mg. So apples are very low in purines.
Apple products such as dried apples, apple juice, and apple sauce are also low in purines. Just be careful of their higher sugar content compared to the whole fruit. For example, many commercial products are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup which studies have associated with an increased risk of gout. So always check labels.
As far as purines go, then, apples can safely be added into a low-purine gout diet.
Okay then, apples are safe to eat with gout, but are they actually good for your gout? Can they help to reduce the risk of recurrent gout attacks?
Are Apples Good for Gout?
The nutrients in apples are not only beneficial for your overall health, they may also have a positive effect on your gout by reducing inflammation and promoting uric acid excretion.
- Recent studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce inflammation and lower uric acid.
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid) inhibits the xanthine oxidase needed to produce uric acid.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is an important element in the uric acid excretion process.
- Vitamin E has a key role in your body’s anti-inflammatory processes.
- Antioxidants in apples can help to neutralize free radicals that cause inflammation.
Potassium is important for gout sufferers because it’s known that potassium deficiency can raise uric acid levels in the blood. It’s also an electrolyte which helps to maintain a healthy fluids balance in the body.
Magnesium helps to improve circulation and lower blood pressure which, in turn, helps to lower the risk of crystal formation.
Magnesium also has an alkalizing effect, particularly on urine, which helps to maintain the solubility of uric acid, thus promoting uric acid excretion and reducing the risk of uric acid kidney stones.
And one study suggests that malic acid (found in apples and other fruits, such as pears, peaches and plums) may increase urinary pH, i.e., making urine more alkaline. An alkaline urinary environment aids in uric acid excretion and a lower risk of gout.
So an ‘apple a day’ will not only help with your overall health position, it may also help to reduce your risk of gout flare-ups when consumed as part of a healthy gout diet.
Frequently Asked Question
Is apple cider vinegar good for gout?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made from fermented apple juice and has been used both in cooking and as a traditional medicine for over two thousand years.
Unfortunately, scientific studies supporting the use of apple cider vinegar for the treatment of gout (and other ailments) are lacking.
That being said, there is some anecdotal evidence that it may help to relieve the symptoms of a gout attack. But such claims are, of course, purely subjective. Nevertheless many folks swear by it.
If you are tempted; add 2 teaspoons of raw, unpasteurized, un-distilled ACV to a large glass of water, stir well and drink. Add a little honey for taste if you need to. Say, two glasses a day during an attack.
But be careful, ACV is very acidic and can damage tooth enamel. Rinsing one’s mouth out with water after taking it may help reduce the risk.
It may also be used topically: mix apple cider vinegar with hot water (not too hot) in the ratio of 1 part ACV to 6 parts water and soak the affected area for around 30 minutes. Repeat as required, reheating the mixture as you go.