This page about oatmeal for gout (porridge oats for gout) was last reviewed, or updated, on 31 May 2014.
Oatmeal, or porridge oats, are an excellent food for a gout diet !
But first a definition is needed. We are talking about whole grain oats. In North America processed oats are called oatmeal or oat bran; in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and sometimes in Canada, they are popularly called porridge, or porridge oats. In Britain, they are often called Scots porridge oats, because of their long-time popularity in Scotland. In Ireland – Irish porridge oats or just porridge oats.
Nutritionists wax lyrical about oats because they deliver other health benefits, which are relevant to gout sufferers. But we are going to be gout specific at this point – for a gout diet we have a slightly different take on oats, but we also explain the usual healthy points at the end of this article – see What To Look For On The Nutrition Panel.
What on earth is the connection between oatmeal/porridge oats and gout pain and inflammation treatment? Read on.
In writing about oats for gout we are definitely not talking about many brands of oats that line supermarket shelves. We are talking about whole grain oats, and oat bran.The way they are processed may affect the amount of linoleic acid (LA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). (See below). The sugar, or honey coated etc, instant, fast cooking oats probably won't have enough of the nutrients you need. They may be rolled and steamed oats, but the ones we are surest about for in this gout diet are slow cooked oats.
How can you tell? Look for the packaging words "whole grain oats" plus oats that need about 30 minutes cooking time, not the do-it-in-5-minutes, fast cooked, instant variety, although some brands of instant oats do have the required nutrients. Twenty to thirty minutes is why Americans call them slow cooked oatmeal.
Look at the nutrition label on the packaging. It says polyunsaturated fats (oils). These are the omega -6 oils. The two most important ones are linoleic acid (LA), some which is converted in the body to gamma linolenic acid (GLA), and GLA in its original form.
The nutrition panels will not say linoleic or gamma linolenic acids, but
they are polyunsaturated oils. The GLA is there. The other
polyunsaturated oils you need are the omega -3 ones, EPA and DHA. These
are not in oats. For EPA/DHA read our fish oils for gout page.
So why do you eat oatmeal or porridge oats for gout?
GLA is not found in any adult foods, except it is in oats. The other best sources are the dietary supplements evening primrose oil and borage oil (also called starflower oil), and mothers’ breast milk. Oats, two flowering herb plants, mothers’ breast milk. Isn't nature amazing? There isn't so much GLA in oats, so why do we bother to write about them?
The theory, and some testimonials, for why you need GLA in diets for gout is on the omega -6 page. We won't repeat it here. But when you read it, you'll hopefully understand why this is not incredible. Basically, GLA, with other omega oils and insulin control can be used for gout pain and inflammation treatment.
The omega -3 page, and the omega -6 page are about using quality omega -3 and -6 oils to improve eicosanoid balance to reduce gout pain and inflammation. GLA is part of the treatment. The theory is popularised by Barry Sears in his "Omega RX Zone" and "The Anti-Inflammation Zone" books.
The key point about slow cooked oatmeal for gout is that you will get enough GLA if you eat just three to five bowls of these oats a week. You need to follow the rest of the Sears' program (programme), as fully explained in the above books.
Eat these slow cooked oats for breakfast, instead of other breakfast foods, and you might save money on dietary supplements such as borage oil (starflower oil) or evening primrose oil. True, slow cooked oatmeal (whole grain porridge oats) is more expensive than the do-it-in-5-minutes sort, but even so oats are not expensive.
Oats and berries - a good gout breakfast
if you are on a low purine diet
Cooking tips for 30 minutes oats
Yes, they can take 30 minutes to cook in the morning for breakfast, but there are ways of avoiding this if it's a problem. Make a big batch for a number of days and freeze. Cook in a microwave, or thaw overnight and heat them again, for your own home-cooked instant oats, but made from whole grain oats, where the flavour and healthfulness is better and the oats you eat are in line with this theory. Do something else whilst they are cooking.
add boiling water the night before, stir until the water's absorbed,
cover the pan, turn off the heat, and they slow cook over-night. Heat up
in the morning until they are ready to eat. Anyone can organise
(organize) themselves to do this.
An anti-gout breakfast or snack For a truly anti-gout breakfast, add berries to the oatmeal (porridge oats), especially strawberries. Add milk or cream, they are both low purine. Add other ingredients within what's allowed in your overall gout diet plan.
Other oatmeal for gout advantages
Because of their soluble fibre (fiber), called beta-glucan, you might find oats lower your LDL cholesterol (the dangerous kind), but probably not much unless you have high cholesterol. However, once you have gout you must do all you can to protect your heart and guard against developing type 2 diabetes. From one bowl (40 grams/1.4 ounces serving) you can get about four grams of fibre (fiber) if you buy the right brand.
Calories, purines, GI, GL Oats are fairly low calorie, moderate purine, with plenty of useful vitamins and minerals, and because they are in the middle on the Glycemic Index (GI) and low on the Glycemic Load (GL). the carbohydrates are slowly absorbed which is good for insulin and blood sugar levels. If you are trying to make your body more alkaline, note that oats are moderately acidic, and oat bran maybe more so, but you can deal with that if you have to. See the pH pages.
Oats are cheap. One serving doesn't cost much, and they are famous for being quite filling, partly because of their high fibre (fiber) content.
Oatmeal for gout disadvantages
Purines Oats have more purines than other cereals such as whole grain wheat, rye, sweet corn and barley, but they are still only low-medium purine.
If you eat five bowls a week that is probably enough for the GLA you need.
Carbohydrates They are quite high in carbohydrate, but their useful amount of fibre can be deducted from the carb content, to get the real carb amount. Dr.Atkins called this, net carbs. So deduct the fibre (fiber) from the carb content on the nutrition label to get the real carb content. You may still end up eating about 25 grams of carbohydrate per 40 grams/1.4 ounces serving, which would not be suitable for the early stages of the Atkins diet. If you are gluten sensitive you may not be able to eat oats.
So you may do better to get your GLA from borage oil or evening primrose oil.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE NUTRITION PANEL
Here are the points you need to bear in mind to get the right sort of oats into any of the diets for gout. You may not find everything we describe on the panel, but go for the closest approximation.
Saturated fat Go for as little as possible. Ideally zero saturated fat.
Polyunsaturated fat Try to get at least one gram of polyunsaturated fat per serving. Remember the amount of the GLA is in this number, so the higher it is, the better. This is the most important thing to look for. GLA can lower cholesterol too. The amount of Linoleic Acid (LA) is also in this number, and there’s much more than GLA.
Monounsaturated fat Also a healthy fat, for example it's the main fat in olive oil.
Fibre (Fiber) At least four grams per serving, or close to it. Ideally the nutrition panel should show the amount of soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (doesn't dissolve in water) fibre. Try to buy a brand where the nutrition panel says half the total fibre (fiber) content is soluble fibre. i.e. two grams, PLUS another two grams of insoluble fibre. Most simply explain the total fibre (fiber) content.
Why soluble fibre (fiber)? Because this is the form of fibre has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. (At least three grams of soluble fibre (fiber) a day is required). And stabilize blood sugar. Fibre (fiber) might lower your triglycerides too. So fibre helps to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. As noted above, gout sufferers are prone to both of these. This is another reason why slow cooked oatmeal for gout is a good idea.
Insoluble fibre (fiber) is healthy too, but for reasons unconnected with gout.
Four grams of fibre (fiber) in a single oat meal (porridge oats) serving is equivalent to the amount of fibre (fiber) in a single serving of psyllium husks. Most people would enjoy oats more.
Transfats "Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil." Make sure there are none.
You may also find these requirements in an oat bran brand. Oat bran has more soluble fibre than oatmeal (porridge oats), but go for the slow cooked oatmeal (whole grain porridge oats) first because the main gout benefit with oats is the GLA. We are currently not sure of the amount of GLA in oat bran.
If you find you need more GLA than in oats, use evening primrose oil, or borage (starflower) oil. But carry on eating oat meal (porridge oats) and you will get somewhat more, plus their other benefits. If you read the Sears' books, note his caution about too much GLA.
Porridge oats/oatmeal for gout? Definitely.
Here are some brands that meet, or get close to, our "What To Look For" test.
United States John McCann's steel cut Irish oat meal, Quaker steel cut oats, Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats. (These are steel cut, not rolled); Mother's oat bran.
Great Britain Jordan's Organic Porridge - the fibre amount is shown but the soluble/insoluble fibre breakdown is not. But you can assume some soluble fibre because about half the fibre in oats is soluble fibre. These can be cooked in 5 minutes so they aren't slow cooked. But they are close to the ideal requirement.