Purine Levels in Crab Meat

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Crab isn't among the highest in purine levels, but gout-sufferers should beware.
Crab isn't among the highest in purine levels, but gout-sufferers should beware. (Image: Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Purine is a natural part of foods we regularly consume, an integral component of genetic life. High levels of purine, however, contribute to your body producing unhealthy concentrations of uric acid, which is responsible for a joint-aching medical development called gout. Crab meat, both in canned and fresh form, has high levels of the compound, but it's not among the highest.

What It's Got

Crab meat is nearly 75 percent water, in relation to its total body weight, with as much as 25 percent of its weight coming from protein, fat and minerals, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Association. It contains what are considered by nutritionists to be high to moderately-high levels of purine. In a 3.5-oz. serving of canned or fresh crab, there are between 5 to 100 mg of purine.

What's Too High?

According to The George Mateljan Foundation for the World's Healthiest Foods, crab is lower on the list of high-purine foods. Those with the highest concentrations, which should be avoided by gout-sufferers, have as many as 1,000 mg of purine in a 3.5-oz. serving: red meats, especially game; poultry; sardines; herring; fish eggs; gravy; bouillon; kidney; liver; sweet bread; yeast and some shellfish like mussels and scallops. The foundation puts the recommended daily consumption of purines at between 600 to 1,000 mg for healthy adults. Those suffering gout are advised to consume no more than 150 mg daily.

Other Offenders

A long list of foods are grouped with crab in the moderately-concentrated category. Other shellfish like oysters, shrimp and lobster are equally prone to higher-than-average levels, as well as kidney and lima beans, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, peas, oats, wheat germ and whole grains. According to Drugs.com, limiting these foods while suffering gout can help manage the condition, producing less uric acid to be processed by the body.

Cooked and Raw

The level of purine in crab changes little in the cooking process. After boiling a crab in a salted pot -- usually for about a half-hour or less for mid-size crabs -- its protein content changes little, which means you can't alter the amount of purine in the crab. However, it is possible to limit your portion sizes, if crab is an especially fond treat.

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