Grapes are not just mouthwateringly delicious, they’re also full of health-giving nutrients, including antioxidants that neutralize free radicals associated with several diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and even cancers. So what’s not to like? Well, if you’ve got gout, you’ll want to read this.
Grapes and Gout
It’s believed grapes were first cultivated in the Middle East between six and eight thousand years ago. And evidence of pure-grape wine making has been discovered in Neolithic villages in Georgia dating to around 6,000 BC.
The top ten grape producing countries today are China, Italy, USA, Spain, France, Turkey, India, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
Something like 71% of grapes harvested worldwide are used to make wine, while fresh grapes account for around 27% and dried grapes (currants, raisins, etc.,) for approx. 2%.
Grape seed oil and grape seed extract (a dietary supplement) are byproducts of the wine making process, while fresh grapes are also used for jams, jellies, and juice.
Fresh grapes are very low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol and contain a range of healthy nutrients, such as vitamins B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B6, C, E and K, as well as minerals, like copper, manganese and potassium. They’re also a good source of fiber and antioxidants, such as resveratrol, catechins, quercetin and anthocyanins.
As a result, numerous health benefits have been claimed for grapes. For example, the Cleveland Clinic lists the following potential health benefits of grapes:
- Helps maintain brain health — resveratrol.
- Reduces high cholesterol – high in fiber.
- Lowers blood pressure — low in sodium.
- Aids the immune system — high in vitamin C.
- Protects against diabetes — low glycemic index (GI) number.
- Protects against heart disease — resveratrol + low sodium/ high potassium.
- Improves sleep — some melatonin.
- Slows aging process — resveratrol again.
- Improves bone health — vitamin K, manganese, potassium.
- Prevents cancers — antioxidants.
Red/purple grapes have more anthocyanins than green grapes because green grapes have a mutation that inhibits the production of anthocyanins. They also have more resveratrol so, overall, are somewhat healthier than green grapes.
But What if You Have Gout?
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis whose root cause is too-high serum uric acid levels which, if not treated, can result in microscopic needle-shaped crystals of monosodium urate settling in joints and surrounding tissue and tendons.
Purines Increase Uric Acid
One of the risk factors for high uric acid is a high purine diet. Purines are natural chemical compounds found in the cells of all living things, including humans, animals and plants. Uric acid is a byproduct of purine metabolism. So more purines…more uric acid.
Around 30% of uric acid in our bodies comes from the food we eat, so diet is important when you have gout. Generally speaking, there are less purines in vegetables and fruits than in red meat, poultry, and seafood. So a good gout diet has more of the former (plant-based foods) and less of the latter (meat and seafood ).
Fructose Increases Uric Acid
Another risk factor for increased uric acid is fructose, sometimes called “fruit sugar” because it exists naturally in fruits. But it’s also found, albeit at lower concentrations, in vegetables, especially in things like artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, okra, onions, and sugar beets.
Fructose is much sweeter than either glucose or sucrose so is used extensively in processed foods, most notably in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These are added “refined sugars” and are much more problematic, healthwise, than natural sugars found in fresh fruit, vegetables, and honey.
Given that both purines and fructose are high risk factors for gout, how do fresh grapes measure up? Is it okay to eat them when you’ve got gout?
Can Eating Grapes Cause Gout?
Grapes are low in purines, producing less than 100 mg of uric acid per 100 gm (3.5 oz) serving. So, as far as their purine content goes, they’re fine.
1 cup (150 gm) of grapes contains around 12.7 grams of fructose which is around 25 % of the 50 grams per day that most healthy individuals are said to be able to consume without damaging their health.
So grapes are safe to eat in a gout diet as long as they’re consumed in moderation, for example, 1 or 2 cups per day.
But why in moderation?
As well as fruits, fructose is also found in vegetables and other plant-based foods which are integral to a healthy gout diet. So these will also add to your daily fructose intake, as will things like , honey, fruit juice, and other fruits you might have on any given day. To say nothing of commercially processed foods, drinks and table sugar you may consume (although these are strongly advised against in a gout diet).
So your total daily intake can soon add up, which is not only bad for your gout, but excessive fructose consumption has been associated with several health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And to complicate things even more these three conditions have, themselves, been associated with gout.
But we must not forget that grapes are packed with the health-giving nutrients and that fructose is only a problem when taken in excess.
As long as you stick to a well-balanced gout diet, eating grapes in moderation is OK. And red grapes, having more resveratrol and anthocyanins than green grapes, are the better option. But stay away from added sugar, processed foods and fizzy drinks.