Avocado is long known as a superfood and for good reason too: it is rich in vitamins, oleic acid, omega-3, and –6 fatty acids, vitamins E, C, K, B5, B6, and B9, as well as more potassium than the famously potassium-rich banana. In addition to that, it is rich in antioxidants, which have been all the rage for the past few decades in diets as well as cosmetics for their anti-inflammatory properties.
All of these facts taken together have prompted many people to research the potential benefits of introducing avocado into their diets in hopes of combating various illnesses and diseases.
Some of those people have found that some of the vitamins in combination with the potassium and the antioxidants are beneficial in preventing gout and gout attacks. In this article, we have collected pertinent information on how avocado could help you prevent gout and what the reasons behind it being so effective are. But let’s start from the beginning.
What is Gout?
Gout is a relatively common form of arthritis. Its symptoms include sudden, sharp pains, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, often the joint between the big toe and the foot. The symptoms usually come and go but may be mitigated by medication and a change in lifestyle, and particularly in diet.
The reason for diet being massively important in reducing the frequency and severity of gout attacks is that the cause of gout is tightly related to nutrition.
Namely, gout is caused by the crystallization of excess uric acid, which is then stored in the joint regions of your body in the form of urate crystals. The crystals create pain and discomfort by damaging the surrounding tissue, and the ensuing response of the immune system creates swelling and redness.
Uric acid is produced in the process of breaking down purines. Purines are a type of substance found in high concentrations in red meat, seafood and especially organ meat.
There are foods that don’t contain these high levels of purine but promote higher levels of uric acid, such as beer or fructose-rich beverages. Diets that contain a moderate-to-large amount of low-fat dairy products have been found to be actually beneficial or even have a preventive effect.
Normally your kidneys excrete the uric acid through urine without issues. However, when too much uric acid is produced, say by consuming too much purine-rich food, or if the kidneys don’t work properly, a buildup is created. That excess is then stored in the joints in the form of urate crystals, which causes gout attacks.
The Nutrition of Avocados
As mentioned in one of our articles before, the nutrition behind avocados is a much-discussed topic and enough praises have been said about the wealth of vitamins and minerals it contains, so we will try to keep this section as brief as possible. The following are the values for the most important vitamins and potassium, per 100g serving:
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA
- Folate (B12): 20% of the RDA
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA
In addition to that, avocados contain significant amounts of mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, also known as omega acids, which are known to be beneficial to maintaining a normal metabolic rate.
Avocados are also very low in sugar. Since sugar is known to exacerbate inflammation problems, this makes it a very useful food for gout sufferers.
They also contain smaller amounts of magnesium, selenium, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, all of which are minerals that humans don’t need very much of, but which are also essential in keeping your body functioning properly.
The Benefits of Avocado in Prevention and Treatment of Gout
So, let’s explore how avocado and gout figure in this story. We can split the benefits into two distinct categories: prevention and symptom treatment. Prevention is achieved through the various vitamins and potassium, as well as the help in regulating body mass that avocados provide.
Symptom treatment is mostly linked to the fact that avocados are rich in antioxidants that might help reduce free radicals, thereby reducing inflammation.
To prevent gout attacks and the developing of gout in the first place, the production of uric acid must either be reduced or the uric acid must itself be more efficiently excreted.
With dietary adjustments, you can help your body get rid of the uric acid simply by limiting the intake of purine-rich food, and you can make it work more efficiently by keeping hydrated and reducing body mass, i.e. reducing the workload of your kidneys.
Avocado is highly beneficial in both categories, as its high fat content means that it provides you with a lot of calories which leave you feeling full for a longer period of time, without having to worry about cholesterol.
The fat in avocado is mostly made of oleic acid, which is also found in olive oil and is healthy since it does not increase LDL (low-density lipoprotein, “bad cholesterol”) levels. This will help in losing weight while not losing any quality of life since it is incredibly flavorful and pairs very well with a variety of other foods.
When it comes to actually helping your kidneys move that uric acid and excreting it, the two most important factors are potassium and vitamin C. Avocados contain 14% of potassium and 17% of vitamin C recommended daily intake (RDA) per 100g serving.
This means that one whole avocado can account for roughly a third of the recommended intake. Potassium helps excrete uric acid from the body and reduces blood pressure, which is an important factor in normal kidney functioning. Vitamin C is especially good for preventing gout, as it actually reduces the uric acid levels within the bloodstream, meaning that it lessens the workload of the kidneys.
All of this comes with a variety of other vitamins and omega-3 and –6 fatty acids, which promote health and wellbeing in general. Vitamin B12 or cobalamin in combination with olive oil helps treat psoriasis, which is another disease closely linked to gout.
As mentioned before, the main component of symptom treatment are the antioxidants that are found in high quantities in avocados. Dietary antioxidants have been proven to reduce inflammation by limiting the concentration of free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are essentially short one electron, which means that they violently react with anything they can get close to and attempt to “steal” one electron, i.e. oxidize. In that process, the surrounding cells and tissue might get damaged, which causes inflammation. Antioxidants, as the name says, inhibit oxidation, therefore limiting the creation of free radicals, and thereby preventing tissue damage and inflammation.
This is, of course, only a boiled-down version of a more complex process that we can’t even attempt to fully explain. If you are interested in delving further into the topic of the viability of dietary antioxidants as anti-inflammatory agents, there are several scientific publications on the topic, but for starters, we recommend this one.
Some studies have confirmed that avocado extract or avocado unsaponifiable is effective in treating arthritis. However, since extracts usually involve much higher concentrations of the active elements found in fresh avocados, it is uncertain whether simply consuming the fruit will have the same effect.
Nevertheless, it is a good sign that this works well and might be a pointer that an avocado-rich diet could help with gout as well as other arthritis varieties.
Of course, it is always the better and safer bet to make sure that you don’t have to deal with the symptoms in the first place if you can. As described in the previous section, avocado is, without a doubt, a great addition to your diet for this exact purpose. However, should the need to treat the symptoms ever arise, avocado might be a good first stop, especially because of its wide availability.
The avocado fruit is an absolute dietary powerhouse, and whether you suffer from gout or not, it is certain to have a positive effect on your health. Even without the benefit of potassium and vitamin C intake, the weight loss alone warrants giving it a try, and besides, the fruit tastes great and can be used in a variety of dishes.
If you do suffer from gout the benefits are simply multiplied: the weight loss helps ease the load on your kidneys, the fatty acids are a good replacement for purine-rich red meat which would lead to higher uric acid levels in your bloodstream, and finally the potassium and vitamin C help ease the problem by directly affecting uric acid levels. Antioxidants come more as an afterthought, although they certainly might come in handy for handling the inflammation.
All in all, avocado is a great fruit for gout sufferers and those who want to prevent gout. we sincerely hope that this short article has provided you with enough insight into the topic to be able to understand how avocado and gout are connected, and how the fruit can help your gout problems and your health in general. Enjoy your meal!