How to Eat a Vegan Diet Low in Purine [Food List]

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Purines from food are broken down into uric acid in the body.

In normal amounts, this is no problem, but in some cases, it can lead to conditions like gout or kidney stones.

It’s one of the reasons that some people are worried about eating too much tofu.

This isn’t a huge issue on a vegan diet since most foods high in purines are animal products, but if you have a good reason to limit your intake, the data below on this page will help.

Amount of Purines in Vegan Foods

You can’t look up purine content like you can for common nutrients like vitamin C or iron.

However, some studies have researched and published values for different foods.

This study in particular summed up the work of many others. I’ve summarized the total purine content for all the vegan foods it listed in the table below.

For reference:

  • very large amount of purines is considered more than 300 mg/100 g
  • large amount of purines is considered between 200-300 mg/100 g
Food Part Total Purines (mg/100 g)
Nori   591.7
Shiitake (dried)   379.5
Freeze-dried tofu   293.1
Parsley   288.9
Wakame   262.4
Soybean (dried)   172.5
Spinach Young leaf 171.8
Hijiki   132.8
Broccoli sprout   129.6
Fermented soybean (Natto)   113.9
Azuki bean (dried)   77.6
Buckwheat flour   75.9
White radish sprouts   73.2
Broccoli   70
Green pepper   69.2
Miso Red miso 63.5
Bamboo shoot Upper part 63.3
Sprouts (with bean)   57.3
Cauliflower   57.2
Japanese pumpkin   56.6
Asparagus Upper part 55.3
Soy sauce Light color 55.3
Deep-fried tofu   54.4
Spinach Leaf 51.4
Eggplant   50.7
Peanut   49.1
Miso White miso 48.8
Bean curd lees (Okara)   48.6
Green soybean   47.9
Kombu   46.4
Soy sauce Dark color 45.2
Barley   44.3
Japanese leek (negi)   41.4
Perilla leaves (shiso)   41.4
Gumbo (okura)   39.5
Komatsuna Young leaf 39
Rice (unpolished)   37.4
Broad bean   35.5
Bean sprouts   35
Rice (with the bud)   34.5
Almond   31.4
Tofu (Momen, chilled)   31.1
Bamboo shoot Lower part 30.8
Rice (polished)   25.9
Flour (bread flour)   25.8
Flour (pastry flour)   25.8
Soymilk   22
Tofu (Momen, 3 min boiled)   21.9
Tofu (Kinu)   20
Garlic chives (nira)   19.4
Green-peas (canned)   18.8
Avocado   18.4
Garlic   17
Sweet potato   17
Flour (cake flour)   15.7
Cladosiphon okamuranus(Mozuku)   15.4
Zucchini   13.1
Corn   11.7
Komatsuna Leaf 10.6
Asparagus Lower part 10.2
Balsam pear (goya)   9.9
Cucumber   9.4
Japanese ginger (myoga)   7.8
Chinese cabbage   7
Potato   6.5
Cabbage   3.2
Cherry tomato   3.1
Banana   3
Ginger   2.3
Onion   2.3
Carrot   2.2
Strawberry   2.1

Vegan Foods High in Purines

There are only 5 foods on the list that were either “high” or “very high” in purines.

  1. Nori/Wakame – Both Nori and Wakame is a type of seaweed.
  2. Parsley – Considering it’s hard to eat a lot of parsley, that’s not much of a concern either.
  3. Frozen tofu – Only frozen tofu was very high in purines. Other forms of tofu ranked much lower. I would assume this is because freezing tofu changes its structure.
  4. Mushrooms (dried shiitake mushrooms) Note that several mushroom varieties were listed in the study, all fairly high in purines, but I didn’t include them because I didn’t want a large part of the list to be the same type of food.

Any other vegan food has a relatively low amount of purines in them.

The majority of vegan foods are low in purines, so if you’d like to eat a vegan low purine diet, it shouldn’t be hard.

Can Purines Lead to Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones can be formed as a result of too much uric acid production. This can be affected both by the amount of purines consumed, and if the person has any issues digesting them.

There are 4 types of kidney stones that you should be aware of:

  1. Calcium oxalate stones – The most common type of stone, made from calcium and oxalate (both come from your diet).
  2. Struvite stones – Fast growing and large, and grow as a result of an infection (not related to diet).
  3. Uric acid stones – Typically formed because of dehydration, high protein diet, problems digesting purines, or genetic factors.
  4. Cystine stones – Not too common, mainly caused by genetics.

Do Vegans Need to Be Extra Worried About Purines and Kidney Stones?

This first study didn’t look at diet type. Instead, it looks at how oxalate intake affects kidney stone risk.

The main finding was:

Spinach accounted for >40% of oxalate intake. For participants in the highest compared with lowest quintile of dietary oxalate, the relative risks for stones were 1.22 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03 to 1.45; P = 0.01 for trend) for men and 1.21 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.44; P = 0.05 for trend) for older women. 

There was a statistically significant increase in kidney stone risk for both men and women who ate the most oxalate compared to those who had the least. However, it’s quite small – just about 20% higher.

Most people are somewhere in between the 2 extremes, and likely have a minimal, if any, increased risk of kidney stones.

In another study of data from EPIC-Oxford, researchers looked at the risk of kidney stones based on diet (vegans were grouped with vegetarians).

Vegetarians actually had a 31% lower risk when compared to meat-eaters.

That’s not a conclusive study, as it doesn’t factor in elements like lifestyle, but it does tell us overall that vegetarians don’t have anything major to worry about when it comes from kidney stones.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.