Asparagus and gout: Why are some gout sufferers able to eat asparagus, while others report gout flares with asparagus? Especially since studies show that purine-rich vegetables don’t increase gout risk. Find out here.
Asparagus Consumption and Gout
I can eat asparagus without it triggering a gout flare but, of course, I don’t eat it every day, only occasionally. On the other hand, a relative of mine more often than not — according to him — gets an attack after eating asparagus.
But we aren’t alone; people linking their consumption of purine-rich vegetables, like asparagus, with subsequent gout attacks can be found online. While others, like me, seem to be able to consume it without any problem.
So I’m pretty sure that that’s the same with the gout population at large; some can eat it without any problems and others, perhaps in a minority, just can’t it seems.
Why should this be? Especially when you consider that at least one large study — of 47,150 men over 12 years — suggests that moderate consumption of purine-rich vegetables, such as asparagus, doesn’t increase the risk of gout.
First, let’s look at asparagus’s purine content:
[Gout is caused by high uric acid in the bloodstream, out of which urate crystals can form in your joints and associated tissue. Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of purines in your body’s cells and in the food you eat. So eating foods containing high concentrations of purines has the potential to raise the risk of incident gout and gout attacks.]
In terms of purine content, asparagus falls into the category of a ‘moderately high’ purine food, that is to say, it has less than 200 mg uric acid per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving but more than 100 mg uric acid per serving.
Now, for us gout patients, moderately high purine foods generally have to be eaten, well, in moderation. Not avoided at all costs, just moderated. Certainly not in large helpings every day.
And that gout diet study backs this up when it suggests that asparagus doesn’t increase the risk of gout when taken in moderation.
If that’s the case, how can we explain those gout sufferers who are pretty sure that every time they consume asparagus it invariably triggers an attack?
Why some gout sufferers may report having attacks with asparagus:
The first thing to consider is that those linking asparagus with a gout attack have based it on their own subjective observations and assumptions. And we don’t know how much and how often they consume asparagus. Is it in moderation? Maybe they’re eating it too frequently and / or in too-large portion sizes?
Also, it can be very difficult to link the consumption of any high-purine food to a gout attack with any degree of confidence, without first knowing the subject’s uric acid level prior to eating the food. It could be that eating it pushed an already high blood uric acid above the saturation point for urate crystal formation.
Finally, could it be that they are ‘outliers’ as far as eating asparagus and other purine-rich vegetables is concerned? In other words, could there be instances where some people’s metabolism can’t tolerate even limited amounts of some purine-rich vegetables, like asparagus? So that what might be low-risk for the majority of us — when taken in moderation — is high risk for them?
So, is asparagus safe to eat with gout?
According to that and other studies, asparagus doesn’t raise the risk of gout, as long as it’s consumed in moderation. And ‘…in moderation’ is the key I think. I always tend towards the concept of everything in moderation.
So for the majority of us, eating asparagus in moderation shouldn’t be a problem. No more than 3.5 oz (100 g) per serving — approx. 3/4 cup of chopped asparagus. And not too frequently, certainly not every day.
But, if you are eating asparagus in moderation, and still think that it’s causing flare-ups, then eliminate it from your diet for an extended period of time. If you still get flares then it could be that your overall uric acid levels are too high. Get your doctor to check your levels.
If you don’t get any more flares, then slowly reintroduce the asparagus back into your diet. If you start getting flares again then the safest course would be to eliminate it from your diet completely.
Overall then, eating asparagus in moderation shouldn’t cause any problems for the majority of us. Which is great because it’s an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium and potassium.
However, if you’re still having flares, even after limiting its intake, then it’s best to get your levels checked and, if you haven’t already done so, reflect on your diet and lifestyle...
Is yours a purine-rich diet? i.e. lots of red meat, organ meat, game, and seafood? Do you consume a lot of sugar? Are you overweight? Do you drink a lot of alcohol, especially beer? These are all known high-risk factors for gout which need to be addressed in order to manage your condition.