Salicylate Sensitivity

What are Salicylates?

Salicylates are a group of organic substances that occur naturally in many fruits, vegetables and herbs.  Salicylates are mainly stored in the leaves, roots, seeds, bark and skin of the plant and act as a preservative to delay rotting and a protection mechanism to ward of animals, insects, bacteria and fungi that might attack the plant.

Where are salicylates most commonly found?

Natural Salicylates are most commonly found in healthy wholesome foods with many high and very high salicylate containing foods being popular fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.

Salicylates are also created synthetically and used as preservatives in processed foods and common products include toothpastes, flavoured sweets and chewing gums etc.  They are also found in perfumes and in a variety of medicines such as aspirin, cough mixtures and analgesics.

What is salicylate sensitivity?

Salicylate sensitivity is the inability for the body to process an excessive amount of salicylates at a given time.  The amount of salicylates a person can handle at any period varies between individuals and there can be a cumulative effect in the body.  A person sensitive to salicylates may react to certain fruits and vegetables or products containing aspirin.

Common symptoms of salicylate sensitivity

Symptoms vary between individuals as can the severity of the reactions.  A salicylate sensitivity may show itself at any time throughout a person’s life.  Common symptomatic reactions include

·         Rashes, hives, tingling /rash on lips ·         Anxiety, panic attacks
·         Symptoms of ADHD / ADD ·         Sleep disturbances
·         Asthma ·         Nausea
·         Eczema ·         Flatulence
·         Sinusitis ·         Irritability, restlessness
·         Rhinitis ·         Rapid heart beat
·         Headaches and migraines ·         Tinnitus
·         Stomach aches ·         Constant clearing of throat
·         Bloating ·         Joint pain

If you are suffering from some of the above symptoms and feel you may have a salicylate sensitivity, the best way to assess the situation is a trial for two weeks avoiding foods containing very high and high levels of salicylates from the list provided.  Symptoms will disappear or greatly reduce if salicylates are a causative factor. Low salicylate foods include all fresh meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, shellfish and cereals.


Salicylate Content of Common Foods

Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Banana Pawpaw Pear – incl. peel Apple –granny smith Apricot Orange
Pear – peeled Pomegranate Apple - red Avocado Blackberry Plum
Apple - golden Fig Grapefruit Blueberry Prune
Lemon Kiwi Fruit Cherry Raspberry
Mango Mandarin Cranberry Rockmelon
Nectarine Dates Strawberry
Passionfruit Grapes Sultana
Peach Pineapple


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Bamboo Shoots Beans - green Asparagus Parsnip Alfalfa sprouts Capsicum
Beans-dried Brussel sprouts Beetroot Potato - sweet Chilli Chicory
Cabbage-green Cabbage – red Broccoli Potato - red Cucumber Gherkin
Celery Chives Carrot Pumpkin Eggplant Olives
Lentils Leek Cauliflower Spinach Watercress Radish
Lettuce-iceberg Mung beans Corn Snow peas Zucchini Tomato
Potato- no peel Peas - green Lettuce
Turnip Mushrooms


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Clover Chives All spice Mustard Aniseed
Fennel Garlic Caraway Nutmeg Cayenne
Fenugreek Malt Vinegar Cardamom Oregano Curry
Parsley Saffron Cinnamon Pepper – black Dill
Sea salt Soy sauce Cloves Pepper – white Fish paste
Tandoori Coriander Rosemary Gravy
Vanilla Cumin Tarragon Sauces
Ginger Turmeric Tomato paste
Mixed Herbs Vinegars


Negligible Moderate High Very High
Coffee - decaf Pear juice - fresh Coffee – regular Cider Fruit juices All other teas
Milo Gin Decaf tea Beer Champagne Peppermint tea
Ovaltine Whiskey Herbal teas Sherry Cordials
Carob Vodka Dandelion tea Brandy Port
Milk Coca cola Wine  /  Rum


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Carob Caramel Molasses Chewing Gum Licorice
Cocoa Golden Syrup Raw Sugar Fruit flavours Mints
Maple sugar Malt extract Honey Rice Syrup
White sugar Jam

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