Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals found in many foods including fruit skins, tea, spices, honey, ginger and some drinks.
There have been anecdotal reports of salicylates causing allergy, although little research has been undertaken to support this. Indeed, standard blood tests used to diagnose allergy cannot be used to diagnose problems caused by salicylates.
There has also been a suggestion that salicylate intolerance could be responsible for some cases of irritable bowel syndrome, although once again we know of no published studies showing that avoiding salicylates will help people with this condition.
If you believe you suffer symptoms triggered by foods high in salicylates, this may be an intolerance, which is different to allergy.
It is important to get medical advice in order to find out whether salicylates really are responsible or whether there is some other trigger. See your GP in the first instance. It may be necessary for him or her to refer you to an allergy clinic.
Foods high in salicylates
If you need to avoid foods high in salicylates your GP can refer you to a registered dietitian.
The information below is based on a number of studies, and shows which foods are universally thought to be high in salicylates.
- Granny Smith apples
- Pineapple juice
- Mixed dried herbs
- Curry powder
Note that aspirin-containing medicines are also high in salicylates.
This article has been reviewed by Dr Isabel Skypala, Clinical Lead for Food Allergy, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Skypala is co-author of published papers on the subject of salicylates.
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Publication date: June 2017
Review date: March 2020