Purines are found in all proteins, such as organ meats, beef, pork, lamb, game meats, anchovies, herrings, mackerel, sardines, scallops, and meat gravies and extracts. Purines are also found in yeast, legumes, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus and cauliflower.
Lowering purines in the diet is an important factor in managing gout, a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, inflammation, tenderness and redness in a joint. The joint at the base of the big toe is most commonly affected. Attacks occur when uric acid builds up in the blood and allows urate crystals to form and accumulate in a joint. Uric acid is produced when purines are metabolized, so eating high amounts of purine-rich foods makes a buildup of uric acid more likely. Foods and drinks sweetened with fructose corn syrup and alcoholic beverages can also increase uric acid levels.
Foods and beverages, such as green vegetables, fruits, nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, chocolate, coffee, tea and dairy products, are low in purines and are generally safe for gout patients. There is some evidence that fatty acids found in salmon, flax, nuts and olive oil may help reduce inflammation, and dark berries may lower uric acid levels.