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The Truth About Tomatoes and Gout

tomatoes and gout
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet concerning tomatoes and gout. Can tomatoes prevent gout? Treat it? Cause it? We’ve taken a look at the evidence, and here’s what we’ve found.

But first, a word about gout.

It’s an intensely painful inflammatory condition usually affecting one joint. Abnormally high levels of uric acid accumulate in the body and produce crystals which deposit in the joint, commonly the big toe. This leads to inflammation (irritation), and pain—it can hurt so badly that even a bed sheet brushing the joint can cause enormous pain. Sometimes the high levels of uric acid are due to the body producing too much, in other cases, the kidneys don’t do a good job of removing it, leading to build up.

Let’s cut to the chase: Are tomatoes a cure-all for gout? Well, not exactly. But don’t abandon all hope yet.

Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a potent antioxidant. A 2009 study in elderly people found that those with higher levels of lycopene in their blood had lower levels of uric acid. The reverse was found as well — those with higher uric acid levels tended to have lower lycopene levels. This relationship was true for a whole host of other antioxidants as well, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and alpha-carotene.

So what can we make of this? It appears that a diet high in antioxidants (think fruits and vegetables), can positively affect uric acid levels, which may be good news for those suffering from gout. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, so we recommend you load up on sweet potatoes, berries, peppers, and greens, in addition to the tomatoes.

Sources: Rheumatology.org, NCBI

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