Is Smoked Salmon Bad for Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. This uric acid can crystallize and deposit in the joints leading to inflammation and severe pain known as a gout attack. Diet plays a major role in gout, as certain foods can raise uric acid levels and trigger painful flares. One food that often comes up is smoked salmon. But is smoked salmon really bad for gout?

The answer is not so simple. While salmon itself can be risky for some with gout, the way the fish is prepared also matters. Additionally, not all types of salmon affect gout the same. Let’s take a deeper look at the potential risks and benefits of eating smoked salmon with gout.

How Salmon Impacts Gout

Salmon is considered a moderate-purine fish, with around 170 mg of purines per 100g serving. Other examples of moderate purine fish include halibut, tuna and carp. While not as high in purines as sardines or mackerel, salmon still contains a significant amount that can raise uric acid when consumed in excess.

For some with gout even moderate purine foods like salmon may need to be limited. This is especially true if experiencing frequent gout attacks. Others find they can still eat salmon in moderation without issue. Those with well-managed gout may be able to enjoy salmon more liberally.

The Role of Cooking Method

How salmon is prepared also influences purine content. Studies show that grilling, broiling and pan-frying salmon leads to minimal purine loss, while methods like poaching and steaming result in more purines leaching out into the cooking liquid.

This means that poached or steamed salmon likely contains less purines than salmon that is pan-fried. However the difference appears modest. One study found boiled salmon still retained 83% of its purines after cooking.

Unique Considerations with Smoked Salmon

When it comes to smoked salmon, there are a few additional factors that can impact gout risk:

  • Curing – Most smoked salmon is cured in a saltwater brine first. This curing process draws out moisture, but not necessarily purines.

  • Smoking – Hot smoking salmon essentially cooks it, while cold smoking does not. Since cooking at lower temperatures may help lower purines, cold smoked salmon may be riskier.

  • Type of salmon – Wild salmon tends to have more omega-3s than farmed, but also slightly more purines. Wild smoked salmon may pose a somewhat greater gout risk.

  • Serving size – Larger serving sizes mean more purines consumed. Sticking to 2-3 oz of smoked salmon at a time is recommended.

So while smoking and curing may intensify flavor, these processes do little to lower the underlying purine content of the salmon. Smoked salmon prepared in different ways can have modestly different purine levels, but it remains a medium-purine fish.

Tips for Eating Smoked Salmon with Gout

If you want to keep enjoying smoked salmon without flares, consider these tips:

  • Limit portion sizes to 2-3 oz
  • Opt for poached, steamed or well-cooked smoked salmon
  • Choose farmed over wild smoked salmon
  • Avoid higher fat preparations like salmon smoked in oil
  • Balance intake by limiting other moderate/high purine foods that day
  • Stay hydrated and limit alcohol intake

For those with well-managed gout and no attacks, an occasional serving of smoked salmon, even cold smoked, may be tolerated just fine. But work with your doctor to determine your personal limits.

The Benefits of Salmon for Gout

While salmon contains moderate purines, it also delivers key nutrients that can benefit gout management. In particular, salmon is one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Research shows omega-3s may help reduce systemic inflammation in gout and lower the risk of recurrent attacks. Salmon also provides vitamin E and selenium, two antioxidants which may offer protection against gout as well.

For these reasons, groups like the American Heart Association still recommend two servings of salmon per week, even for those with gout. The omega-3s in particular promote heart health and help counterbalance the cardiovascular risks often associated with gout.

Bottom Line

So is smoked salmon bad for gout? Not necessarily, as long as intake is moderated. While smoked salmon does contain a meaningful amount of purines, the preparation method, serving size, and type of salmon impacts the risk profile. Those with well-managed gout may be able to enjoy smoked salmon in small servings as part of a gout-friendly diet, balancing the nutrients against the moderate purine content. But for those prone to gout attacks, smoked salmon is better limited or avoided altogether.

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Can you eat fish if you have gout?

Studies have shown that eating large amounts of high-purine foods increases the risk of recurrent gout attacks by nearly five-fold. What may surprise you is that certain fish, such as bonito, have as many purines ounce per ounce as calve’s liver. This article offers a breakdown of the fish to eat or avoid if you have gout.

Can you eat smoked salmon if you have gout?

Smoked salmon is rated as a “high” purine food: it contains >200 mg uric acid per 3.5 oz (100 g) food serving. So smoked salmon should be excluded from your gout diet. But although foods with a high purine content should be avoided, foods with a moderate purine content may be consumed..well…in moderation!

Can salmon cause gout?

The first thing to consider, of course, is salmon’s purine content. Remember, gout is caused by higher than normal levels of serum uric acid out of which crystals of urate accumulate in the joints and surrounding tissue.

Can a low purine diet cause gout?

A low purine diet is often prescribed for people with hyperuricemia — high levels of uric acid in their blood — which can lead to gout and kidney stones. Purine in our foods breaks down into uric acid in our bodies, so reducing dietary purine helps reduce uric acid levels. Some foods produce uric acid, and some reduce it. What is the gout diet?

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