Rice and gout: Rice is a cereal grain and the most important source of dietary carbohydrate on our planet. Brown rice contains the whole grain whilst white rice has had the bran and germ removed during processing. But are they safe to eat if you have gout? And, if they are, should one be preferred over the other in your gout diet?
Rice and Gout
First off, let’s remind ourselves of what gout is so that we can get a better handle on how rice may affect someone with gout…
Gout is an inflammatory type of arthritis caused by higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in the bloodstream — a condition known as hyperuricemia — out of which tiny crystals of monosodium urate can form in the joints and associated tissue.
Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of naturally occurring chemical compounds called purines which exist in our bodies’ cells and at varying concentrations in the cells of the food we eat.
The food we eat accounts for some 30 percent of the uric acid produced in our bodies. So diet can play an important role in proper gout management. Some types of food are high in purines, some have moderately high levels, and some have low levels of purine.
For someone with gout the key is to completely avoid high purine foods, limit moderately-high-purine foods and consume low-purine foods as normal.
So let’s now take a look at rice…
Domesticated rice is a cereal grain which, according to Wikipedia, ‘is the most important food crop with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.’
And nearly 50% of the world’s population — including almost all of East and Southeast Asia — is wholly dependent upon rice as a staple.
There are over 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice. They each have their own set of unique characteristics — color, grain size, shape, aroma, stickiness, starch and other chemical content, growing and processing technique, etc., — that determines which dishes they are best suited for.
For example Arborio rice is ideal for risotto because, when cooked, its grains are round, firm, chewy and creamy, due to their high amylopectin (starch) content. Exactly what you want in a risotto.
The different varieties of rice can be divided into 3 main types: long grain, short grain and medium grain.
These in turn can be divided into white rice and brown rice. Brown rice includes the whole grain (bran, germ and endosperm), whilst white rice has had the bran and germ removed during processing thus removing or reducing much of its nutrients.
So brown rice is usually considered to be the healthier option…
Health Benefits of Brown Rice
Brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of calories and carbohydrates. But brown rice is richer in vitamins and minerals, such as:
- vitamins B1 (thiamine)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
White rice loses much of these vitamins and minerals during processing.
Brown rice is also richer in soluble and insoluble fiber. Brown rice contains 1.8 gm of total fiber per 100 gm compared with white’s 0.4 gm of fiber per 100 gm (source). Insoluble fiber promotes healthy bowel movements and also helps to reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, whilst soluble fiber can lower cholesterol and so help to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also help you feel full faster which can help in weight management.
Some studies have associated white rice with an increased risk of diabetes. Brown rice has a lower glycemic index (55) than white rice (64) so brown rice is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar and may even help to control blood sugar in people with diabetes.
The bran and germ in brown rice contain phenolics, powerful antioxidants that help to inhibit cell damage caused by free radicals that can lead to many diseases including cancer. Many of these healthy antioxidants are lost or significantly reduced in white rice since the bran layer and germ have been removed.
Now let’s see how rice impacts on gout, if at all…
How Rice Affects Gout
Since the amount of uric acid produced from food is directly related to the food’s purine content, we first need to determine the amount of purine in rice.
White rice is a low-purine food, that is to say, its purine content produces less than 100 mg uric acid per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving. So white rice is safe to eat as part of your gout diet. But bear in mind that it doesn’t retain a lot of its nutrients after processing.
Brown rice is moderately-high in purines, i.e. producing between 100-200 mg uric acid per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving. However, the health benefits of brown rice outweigh its potential purine risk. And, in any case, you can reduce that risk by limiting consumption to one 3.5 oz (100 g) serving per day.
So What’s the Best Rice to Eat with Gout?
Both white rice and brown rice are fine with gout. But, although brown rice is higher in purines than white rice, it’s much healthier than white rice and the risk of increased uric acid can be mitigated by eating it in moderation: 1 x 3.5 oz (100 g) serving per day.
On balance then, if you suffer with gout, the best rice to add into your gout diet is the much healthier brown rice.
And here’s the perfect way to cook it…
How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice
Here’s how to prepare perfect fluffy brown rice in just 20 minutes…