Some people are intolerant to salicylates, the most common symptom being urticaria (nettle rash) or nasal symptoms.

Salicylates are substances similar to aspirin (aceto-salicylic acid).  They occur naturally in certain fruit and vegetables, tea and coffee, herbs and spices and certain nuts and seeds.  Salicylates are highest in unripe fruit and most concentrated just under the skin or in the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.

The lists here tell you which foods contain salicylates. List of foods containing salicylates are grouped into three groups depending on the level of salicylate content.

We recommend that you cut out or reduce the salicylates in your diet to see whether your symptoms improve.  You should follow the diet initially for a period of two to four weeks.

Thereafter, if your symptoms improved, then you could start to re-introduce foods gradually:

  • Start with one portion of food from group one (low).  If symptoms re-occur you will need to continue to avoid all foods containing salicylates.
  • If three portions daily from group one (low) are tolerated, foods from group two (moderate salicylates) can be tried.
  • If three portions daily are tolerated from this group, re-introduce foods from group three (high salicylates).

One portion equals

One piece of fruit

Medium portion of vegetables (two tablespoons)

Two oz nuts

One drink or one dish containing salicylate (or salicylate ingredient)

Foods allowed freely

  1. Avoid all foods containing spices, honey, vanilla, peppermint or fruit flavouring on their list of ingredients e.g. desserts, sweets, sauces or drinks.
  2. Flavourings may contain spices or methyl salicylate.  Try to avoid manufactured products containing flavourings e.g. ready-made meals, desserts, sauces, dressings or pickles.
  3. As this diet limits fruit and vegetables, you may need a Vitamin C supplement.  Discuss this with your dietitian.
  4. If you have symptoms whilst on the diet, record everything you are eating so that the dietitian can check for any links with other foods.
  5. Some skin creams and medicines may contain salicylic acid/ aspirin.  Products flavoured with mint or menthol such as chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, lozenges and cigarettes, are also likely to contain salicylates.

Ingredients to look for are:

– Aspirin                                               – Acetylsalicylic Acid

– Beta-hydroxy Acid                            – Benzoates

– Magnesium Salicylate                      – Menthol

– Peppermint                                       – Spearmint

– Wintergreen                                      – Phenylethyl Salicylate

– Salicylate                                          – Salicylic Acid

– Artificial colouring and flavouring

You might want to initially avoid these medications or products.  Check with your pharmacist.

With alcoholic drinks, the higher the sugar content the more salicylate content, therefore go for dry versions of the drink where possible.


Cereal e.g. Cornflakes, Weetabix


Toast and butter

Decaffeinated coffee


Lemon squash or chocolate drink

Biscuit (no fruit/honey)


Cheese, egg or meat sandwich

Plain yoghurt


Plain crisps

Lemon squash drink


Lemon squash, chocolate drink

decaffeinated coffee

Toast and butter


Meat or fish

Potatoes, rice, chapatti

Peas and cabbage

Leeks in cheese sauce

Plain yoghurt or milk pudding or custard

It is essential to record accurately the food that you eat and the symptoms you experience with appropriate times. Use a small notebook and allow a spread of two pages for each day.

Ref: 05-18-109
Review: 05/20