Sardines and gout. How to make sardines gout friendly

This page about sardines and gout was last reviewed or updated on 2 July 2018


You may well be a fan of sardines  The sardine looms large in many gout diets because it is high in the omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for gout, and because with their long list of other nutrients they are anti inflammatory, good for heart disease, good mental health, good for brain development and more.

Sardines are also inexpensive and tasty. They rank No.5 on our best fish for gout page.

The silvery sardine - you don't see it like this when you buy it in a can

Amounts of purines in sardines Sardines have a huge disadvantage too, about which that pages warns. They are quite high in purines. It is likely some people have suffered  gout attacks triggered by eating too many sardines. In one analysis sardines contain 210 mg/100 grams of purines which produced 247 mg/100 of uric acid.  

In another table,sardines in oil (canned sardines) created 480 mg uric acid/100 grams. And in another study, the precursor of purines nucleic acid nitrogen (NAN), amounted to 320 mg/100 grams of sardine. Pilchards, a type of sardine, are also quite high - 345 mg/100 grams of pilchard of uric acid produced.

So just 100 grams (3 12 ounces) of sardines could be a  1/3 or a ¼ of your daily purines allowance. But If you could reduce their purines, their % of your daily allowance falls, or you can eat more.

247 mg of uric acid is rather high when you consider that low purine food is below 100mg/100grams in some ranking tables (Ranking tables do not always have the same rankings).  The breakdown into the four purine bases was: adenine 17.6 mg; guanine 105.8 mg; hypoxanthine 87.1 mg; xanthine, not found. The guanine % is 50.3%. Guanine does not produce uric acid, (or not much), as with xanthine, so the uric acid came from sardines’ adenine and hypoxanthine.


However,  there is a way of making sardines more gout friendly at least according to the study I shall now describe. (1)  In this study boiling fresh sardines  for 25 minutes reduced purines by 48%. Purines here were measured as nucleic acids which are the purines precursor.

Second best was frying in oil (10 and 15 minutes, which reduced  sardines’ nucleic acid nitrogen (NAN), the precursor of purine bases,  by 18% and 25% respectively. Next, oven roasted for 20-25 minutes at 200 C : - 8% for 20 minutes;  -15% for 25; finally, microwaving 600w (5-7 minutes) 5 minutes – 14%; 7 minutes – 18%.

Grilling for 15 minutes raised NAN but only by 3% which is neither here nor there. During grilling the small increase was due to moisture and fat loss, a phenomenon noted in other studies of cooking fish and meat,

If you prefer the taste of fried, grilled, or broiled sardines, you could boil them first to lower purines the most,(including canned sardines which have been cooked) then cook them your preferred way. They are double cooked but you should have removed many purines. You may well find it hard to buy fresh sardines and so be forced to use canned ones.


Click here to go to this page for sardine's nutrients.  

The numbers here are for canned Atlantic sardine in oil with bone

Before you click, the main points about sardines’ nutrients are - there are no carbohydrates; therefore the Glycemic index is low; calories 208  per 312 ounces (100 grams).

Omega 3: 1.48 grams (EPA 0.43g (473 mg)/100 grams; DHA 0.509g 508 mg)/100 grams; Omega 6: 3.54 grams

** 312 ounces (100 grams) of sardines will give you more EPA and DHA than you will find in most single fish oil capsules.

Vitamins in sardines that are good for gout  (links here are to our pages about these vitamins and gout) : Sardines contain - folic acid (folate) 12 mcg; pantothenic acid 0.6 mg.

Other polyunsaturated fats: Linoleic acid and Linolenic acid. Linoleic acid is an omega -6 polyunsaturated fat. It is converted in the body to Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), the building block of anti pain and inflammation eicosanoids. Linolenic acid  may also be called Alpha Linolenic Acid.. It is converted in the body to EPA and DHA.


One of the best reasons for eating sardines is their omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (numbers above) which are among the highest in any food. 

What effect does cooking have on their omega fats ? You need to know this. Whilst boiling lowered purines the most in the study (1), boiling did not raise sardines' omega fats much. But frying, grilling, oven roasting and microwaving, all of which lower purines less, did raise their sardines omega fats. The most by frying.And this is not because the frying fat enters the fish, it is because the frying fat is not omega 3 or 6

Tip If you fry, use olive oil.

Sardines and gout related pages 

Lowering seafood purines. A round-up of the studies about this topic.

Cooking and meat purines

Our list of purines in foods. One of the largest on the Internet.

Study References 

(1) Manar M.A.Farag Effect of different cooking methods on nucleic acid nitrogen bases content of fresh sardine fish and its nutritive value. World Journal of Dairy & Food Sciences 8(2) 2013

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