Do beans belong in a gout diet?
In this post we will examine if beans should be part of a gout diet since I get many questions and it seems it causes much confusion since there are purines in beans. This seems to freak out some of you so I will share the facts with you here. Usually foods high in protein have purine content that is higher than average but that doesn’t mean you should avoid beans.
When it comes to calories beans are comparable to meat that’s why they make you feel full. They are high in fiber, one cup of cooked beans provides you with about 12 grams of fiber whereas meat doesn’t contain any fiber at all. The big difference between eating beans over meat is that the fiber content in beans means that they get digested slowly, thus keeping you satisfied longer. Meat on the other hand is digested rather quickly. Furthermore, beans are low in sugar preventing insulin to spike causing you to be hungry. You won’t find this protein-fiber combination in any other foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, meats, nuts and seeds.
What else do beans have that meat doesn’t? Beans have phytochemicals in them which are basically compounds found only in plants and are high in antioxidants. Did you know that in a US Department of Agriculture study, they measured the antioxidant levels in more than 100 common foods and that beans held 3 of the top 4 spots out of 100? Small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans were in the top ranks making beans a perfect food. One cup of beans also carries 15 grams of protein which is the equivalent of two ounces of meat like chicken or fish like salmon.
What does the evidence say?
Evidence shows that the purine content of beans and vegetables does not aggravate the symptoms of gout and you may safely eat beans anyway you like them. The only thing you should worry about is how much animal-based protein you ingest cause meats like pork, beef, lamb, lobster, shrimp and organ meats will aggravate gout symptoms as per this 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that people that ate more animal-based protein had a 40% to 50% higher risk of developing gout.
The authors of the study which included H.K. Choi also concluded that the consumption of beans does not appear to trigger gout symptoms. In fact people with gout should replace animal-based protein foods with beans and other plant-based proteins. It’s much easier to digest, breakdown and easier on your organs. In addition, by eating plant-based protein foods you also reduce your levels of saturated fat which is indirectly connected to the onset of gout! It’s a win-win all around.
Another recent study in which I wrote an entire post about titled “Gout and the Singapore Chinese Health Study” examined about 50,000 Chinese in Singapore and discovered that those that ate the most soy products as in soybeans which is a very popular food in Asia were at a lower risk of gout compared to those who ate the least. In fact, blood tests showed it did not actually increase uric acid in the subjects. Although many on the internet without any evidence whatsoever to back up their claims, scare you to avoid foods high in purines and beans being one of those foods, the exact opposite is true here.
Beans are a safe food to eat, don’t worry about getting any gout attacks by eating beans. Don’t go being a glutton and eat beans morning, day and night but you can eat them a few times a week. For those suffering from tophi please consult your doctor before making any attempts to eat beans since your body is more sensitive to foods in purines and should probably avoid any protein-based foods.
Finally, some gout sufferers have expressed to me that Black bean broth may be used as a natural remedy for gout. It is a home remedy that has originated from Taiwan and spread throughout the world since it has a antioxidant chemical called anthocyanins and is responsible for the black beans “black” colour. Anthocyanins is also found in berries especially in blackberries and blueberries.
Unfortunately, there is no study yet to prove any of these claims but if you want give it a try, you got nothing to lose. To make black bean broth all you have to do is simply add 200g of black beans in boiling water for about 1-2 hours. Then you can eat the beans and others like to keep the broth as “medicinal liquid”.
Whatever you do make sure to eat beans and take my word for it, it is safe and should be part of an overall balanced gout diet as explained in my book. That means black beans, red kidney beans, green beans, black-eyes peas, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans, soybeans and any other bean that is not mentioned here. Eat them!