The 18th Century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus said that a diet of only strawberries had cured his gout. As a botanist he presumably knew a lot about fruits and flowers. Since you can find photos of a painting of him he was probably a well known expert in his time. He lived until he was 71, quite old for that very gout-aware century. But he couldn’t have known about Vitamin C because it was discovered in the 1930’s.
If this really happened, remember that single-foods diets such as just eating strawberries are crash diets. These can bring on gout attacks, so copying Linnaeus is definitely not recommended.
What was it in the strawberries that did it? For a start strawberries have a high Vitamin C content. At least three studies have reported that Vitamin C will reduce uric acid levels or is protective against gout. In the last study, not by a great deal, but by enough (10-15% of an excess level), to make it a useful aide to reducing uric acid.
And one of the ways to take it in its best forms is that flavonoids are added. This is not exactly news because many Vitamin C products have added flavonoids from citrus fruits. But the problem with many Vitamin C products is that experts have said that an equal (or nearly equal) amount of flavonoids should be with the Vitamin C. There is then more of a therapeutic effect. I have found only one supplement (and I examined about 10 Vitamin C preparations) that does this. Most have 10%-20% of flavonoids to the Vitamin C content.
And it’s always said that Vitamin C is best taken naturally, from foods and juices. So there’s at least one thing the world’s nutritional experts agree about.
There are, it’s thought, maybe 4,000 flavonoids, but only five, plus the proanthocyanidins, have so far been analysed in foods. The five sub classes of flavonoids are: anthocyanidins (aka anthocyanins), flavon-3-ols, flavanones, flavones, and flavonols.
Quercetin, the dietary supplement reported to be helpful in gout treatment because it’s an antioxidant and because it may inhibit xanthine oxidase and thus reduce uric acid production, is one of the flavonols and is notably found in onions and apples (it’s mainly in apples’ skin). Also it’s found in grapefruits, and some green leafy vegetables. There is some quercetin in strawberries too.
Strawberries are towards the top of the high Vitamin C foods list (amount 59 mg per 100 grams) and they are also high in flavonoids. Their flavonoids’ profile (the anthocyanidins, flavan-3-ols and so on) is comparable to cherries, but not precisely the same. For proanthocyanidins amounts, strawberries wack cherries.
But strawberries value as a gout food doesn’t end at this. Let’s look at other dietary factors that are beneficial for gout.
Total flavonoids to Vitamin C: 68%. High. Good.
pH: Strawberries are moderately alkaline. Good.
Purines: Low. Good.
Glycemic Index: Moderate. Good.
ORAC score (antioxidant capacity): Amongst the highest of the top Vitamin C foods. Good.
Water: about 91%. Good.
Are there testimonials to strawberries in gout treatment? I have seen a few. I seem to remember one where the fellow said he went to the refrigerator for a bowl of strawberries whenever he felt a gout attack coming on, and the feeling went away after eating them. The kind of story you read about cherries, cherry juice and dried cherries.
That famous British summer dish… strawberries and cream, (cream is low purine, low GI and fairly low carb), anyone? Yes, and an extra serving too if there’s any leftovers please.
NB. The contents of this article contain medical information not medical advice. Please always discuss remedies with your doctor or other health care professional, before implementing any treatment.
Natural Gout Treatment – Why Strawberries Are Good For Gout by John Mepham