Salicylate Free diet Plan : Foods to Eat and Avoid

Updated on April 20th, 2020
foods high in salicylates

Food allergies and intolerances are on the rise today – gluten intolerance, milk allergy and peanut allergy are some of the more common food allergies. Most people, however, have never even heard of salicylate allergy or salicylate intolerance. Salicylates, one of the major ingredients in the miracle drug aspirin, is a naturally occurring plant chemical found in fruits, vegetables, wine, beer, nuts, herbs, spices, tea, and coffee.

According to the Food Intolerance Diagnostics(1), 2 to 40% of patients attending allergy clinics and around 2 to 7% of patients with gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, were found to be salicylate sensitive. This rare condition has, however, remained difficult to diagnose possibly because the spectrum of triggers is just so wide-ranging.

But it’s not just the triggers that are wide-ranging, symptoms of this pseudo-allergic hypersensitivity reaction can be pretty varied, too. Classic symptoms of salicylate sensitivity include digestive issues, bloating, cramping, mental fatigue, and skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, etc.

If you are diagnosed with salicylate intolerance, a low salicylate diet may be recommended to you. In this article, we review the list of foods to include and avoid salicylate sensitivity along with a sample 5-day meal plan.

List of Foods High in Salicylates

The highest amounts of salicylates are generally found in vegetables, fruits, and spices. If you have salicylate sensitivity, some of the foods that you might want to avoid in general include:

  1. Most fruits, especially dried fruits, berries, pineapple, cherries, apples, kiwi, apricot, plums, peaches, grapes, and avocados.
  2. Most vegetables, particularly cucumbers, gherkins, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potato skin, endive, black and green olives, eggplant, spinach, broccoli as well as canned, bottled or pre-made vegetables which contain restricted ingredients such as ketchup, tomato sauce or tomato paste, and spaghetti sauce.
  3. Some herbs and spices such as curry powder, aniseed, basil, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, fenugreek, dill, garam masala, marjoram, mace, liquorice, mint, mustard, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, paprika, sesame seeds, turmeric, and seasoning salts.
  4. Nuts and beans such as fava beans, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, coconut, walnuts, and water chestnuts.
  5. Teas and beverages, especially peppermint tea, fruit concentrates and fruit juice, flavoured coffee and coffee mixes, carbonated drinks and soft drink, premixed drinks, coolers, and liqueurs.
  6. Other foods such as commercial salad dressings, commercial gravies and sauces, jams and jellies, certain candies and cheeses, honey, flavoured syrups, fruit snacks, fruit peel, and prepared dessert fillings, pastries, ice cream and yoghurt made with restricted fruits or other high-salicylate ingredients.
Different parts of a plant can have different levels of salicylate. The amount of salicylate can vary between the seeds, pulp, and peel of a vegetable or fruit.

Natural Remedies for Salicylate Sensitivity

[ Read: Morning Banana Diet ]

1. Low Salicylate Diet

The low salicylate diet is by far the most well-known diet for managing symptoms of salicylate allergy. The diet removes foods that are high in salicylates, amines, and glutamates. The exclusion of such foods may either be short term or long term, depending on the individual’s threshold of sensitivity. If there are improvements in symptoms after four weeks, some foods may be reintroduced gradually to challenge the intolerance.

Which foods to eat on a low salicylate diet?

The following are some foods that you can eat when you are on a low salicylate diet:

  1. Fruits – Golden delicious apples, fresh fruits such as bananas, mangoes, figs, lemon, papaya, pear, passionfruit (granadilla), pomegranate, and rhubarb. Canned Kadota figs and Bartlett pear is also permitted.
  2. Vegetables – Bean sprouts, fresh green andred cabbage, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chayote squash, green beans, corn on the cob, lettuce, leeks, mushrooms, green peas, onions, shallots, white peeled potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, tomato, turnip, and watercress. Canned bamboo shoots and corn niblets are also permitted.
  3. Meat and dairy products – Most meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products, unless processed, seasoned or made with restricted ingredients, contain little or no salicylates.
  4. Beans, Nuts and Seeds – Brown beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, brown lentils, lima beans, green split peas, mung beans, red lentils, yellow split peas, soybeans, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, and dry Polly seeds.
  5. Spices – Allspice dry powder, bay leaf powder, cardamom, caraway, chili flakes and chili powder, fresh chives, whole dry cloves, fresh coriander leaves, fresh green, red and yellow chili peppers, garlic, ginger root, horseradish, nutmeg, parsley, black and white pepper, dry fennel powder, poppy seeds, and saffron.
  6. You may also include other foods such as plain breakfast cereals, plain rice, plain pasta, plain bread, plain flour, plain grains, plain crackers, homemade gravies and salad dressings without any high salicylate ingredients, plain jams, jellies and marmalade, baking chocolate, maple syrup, sugar, chamomile herbal tea, plain coffee, etc.

[ Read: Low Phosphorus Foods ]

2. Fish Oil

fish oil

Fish oil is another recommended cure for salicylate intolerance. In a small study(2) that was conducted on three people, it was found that the patients who took fish oil for 6 to 8 weeks experienced complete or nearly complete improvement of their symptoms.

How much to take?

The recommended dosage is 10 grams of fish oil daily.

[ Read: Health Benefits of Fish Oil ]

Sample 5-day Meal Plan for Low Salicylate Diet:

Day 1

Scrambled eggs with plain toast
Oatmeal cookies or plain homemade cookies
Pasta with homemade sauce and any low salicylate veggies
Lentil Soup and meatloaf

Day 2

Plain oats with half a cup of milk and a banana
Snack Cupcakes
Lunch Fried rice
Roast meat, low salicylate veggies, and baked potatoes

Day 3

French toast
Banana, pear, or plain muffins
Iceberg lettuce wraps with meat filling
Salmon with leeks

Day 4

Pancakes with maple syrup
Chocolate shortbread or plain doughnuts
Chicken and apple salad
Celery soup with lime and garlic flank steak

Day 5

Boiled or scrambled eggs
Maple baked pears
Quinoa, cashew, and chickpea salad
Roast chicken and green bean stir fry

Omitting high salicylate foods alone may not always resolve your symptoms. There are various kinds of salicylates, and some foods which are well-tolerated by one person may not be by another. It is, therefore, best to consult an allergist or registered dietician to chart out a healthy meal plan for you.

Also Read:

Foods High in Selenium

Foods to Choose Before & After Yoga 


1. Does cooking help to reduce salicylates?

Cooking does not destroy or reduce salicylates. However, some people tolerate cooked fruits and vegetables better than raw ones.

2. How can salicylate sensitivity be treated?

Low salicylate diets such as the Failsafe diet and the Feingold diet can be used to treat salicylate sensitivity.

3. How do you test for salicylate sensitivity?

There are currently no standard tests or laboratory methods for detecting salicylate sensitivity. Most medical professionals attempt to diagnose salicylate intolerance through provocation or exposure, which generally involves administering a small amount of salicylic acid.

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