This page about the best fish for gout was last updated or reviewed on 22 November 2014
Fish is good for gout because of its Omega-3 fats. It is bad because of the high number of purines in some species. The more omega-3 per purine or created uric acid the better. So I have divided fishes’ omega-3 amount (in 100 grams) by the uric acid created from their purines in 100 grams, to present here the amount of omega-3 per mg of created uric acid. The resulting number is multiplied by 1000 to give a figure that’s more quickly understandable.
Thus: (omega-3 per 100 grams /uric acid created in mg by 100 grams) x 1000 = SCORE.
In other words, the numbers in the table below represent a ratio between fishes’ Omega -3 and their uric acid created amount. Higher numbers are better; a lower number is worse. A higher number means you get the more omega -3 (EPA, DHA, ALA) per uric acid; the lower number means you get the less.
1 – OMEGA-3 COMPARED TO URIC ACID.
Winners: Caviar, Mackerel and Herring Roe
The first table shows a list of the top ten best fish for gout as ranked by their best fish for gout score, highest at the top. The difference between the fishes’ scores is a measure of how much better one fish is compared to another. Thus mackerel at 17.93 could be said to be twice as good as Atlantic herring at 8.10.
Mackerel - not as good as real caviar
for gout but much, much cheaper
Caviar – the eggs of the sturgeon fish – is way out in front of the pack. And in price too of course. Perhaps caviar’s cost will open you up to the possibility of other, less expensive fish eggs. (See below). Mackerel is second and quite the opposite in price, in fact among the cheapest of fish in many countries. Factor in price and availability and mackerel is the best fish for gout. Herring roe is No.3.
Two of the top three are roes, and if we had more purines' numbers for roes there would be more in the top 10 and next 17.
The score is not everything, only a guide. Fish that are high in omega-3 tend to be high in purines too, so gout sufferers or those prone to it, should always consider the number of purines, and be careful of for example, eating herrings, sardines, mackerel and other high purine fish more than once or twice a week. There are other ways of getting omega -3 fats.
The uric acid (purines) and omega-3 figures used to calculate this score can be found at the websites listed below under Data Sources.
Caviar (real) 45.42
Herring roe 12.26 *
Eel (smoked) 11.54
Herring, Atlantic 8.10
Herring,matje pickled 6.34
Sardines in oil 4.17
Shrimp (brown) 2.04
Trout, rainbow 2.02
Scallop (shell fish) 1.47
Mussel (shell fish) 0.54
Black caviar from the sturgeon is the true caviar but there are high omega -3 eggs of other fish too, e.g. red fish eggs from salmon (see below). Caviar substitutes were not included in this analysis.
* More on the herring roe calculation below. See A high Omega-3 fish product is among the best fish for gout
TABLE 2 - EPA COMPARED TO URIC ACID.
Winners: Caviar, Herring roe, Atlantic Herring
This table may be a more relevant best fish for gout one for gout sufferers than Table 1 above.
Table 1 shows Omega -3 fats, EPA and DHA combined, compared to mg of created uric acid from purines in these fish. Again, the ratio number has been multiplied by 1,000 to present a more readily understandable figure.
However, in the anti-inflammation theory of
Dr. Sears, (Zone diet), used by some to treat their gout, and which has some
testimonials for its success, the more important Omega-3 for gout is the EPA. It is the omega-3 that is used in the
fight against inflammation. We begin our explanation on this page.
In this EPA table, herring jumps above mackerel in the top 5 and caviar is still way ahead. The numbers are lower than in the Omega -3 table because there is less EPA. EPA is part of omega -3.
Caviar (real) 19.03
Herring roe 5.17
Herring Atlantic 4.33
Herring Matje cured/pickled 3.85
Trout, rainbow 1.58
Eel (smoked) 1.38
Sardine, Pilchard 1.37
Shrimp (brown) 0.92
Mussel (shell fish) 0.75
Scallop (shell fish) 0.63
Red fish (ocean perch) 0.31
Tuna in oil 0.23
As you can see many popular fish like cod, haddock and tuna are not very good for gout on this view. Cod roe however is high in Omega-3, but its purines are unknown or not published.
A high Omega-3 fish product is among the best fish for gout
You may be surprised that herring roe (eggs) has scored so highly in these best fish for gout tables..
Herring roe almost certainly has at least 2 grams of Omega-3 (EPA+DHA) per 100 grams of roe. The USDA National Nutrient database lists mixed species roe, raw, (it has no amount for herring roe) at omega-3 of 2.35 grams /100 grams, and this is the number that has been used in the calculation. It is almost certainly about right, maybe too low. One study found among a number of roes from fish species - and roes are known to be high in Omega-3 - Atlantic Herring roe came second for EPA and 2nd for DHA.
Studies have found that the roes (eggs or egg laden ovaries) of various fish are high in omega-3. Herring roe is now used by one fish oil bottler to produce its Omega-3 product. If it has around 2.33 grams and its purines are 190 mg of uric acid, (a tested number) that means its omega-3/uric acid (UA) ratio is 12.26 on our table scoring, and so it ranks third on the Omega-3/UA Table 1.
Salmon eggs, (ikura), not as expensive as caviar, are also especially high in omega-3. Their purines amount is probably about the same as caviar, but that is a guess.
Milt is actually the semen of male fish (e.g. herring milt), and is also classified as roe – in this case soft roe. This too is very nutritious and milt is high in omega-3 fats. However, the purines amount of milt is likely to be high, so gout sufferers should not eat milt regularly.
* Other fats in fish are not considered.
** The purines number for only one variety of a species has been used, but different varieties probably have different amounts. e.g. Atlantic mackerel. Chub mackerel, and King mackerel may have different levels of purines but only one number for mackerel has been used. There simply is not the purines information about all varieties, nor about many fish.
Omega -3 fats
(1) USDA National Nutrient database; http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/
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