Salicylate intolerance: the basics

January 17, 2018 at 4:41 PM

Both natural and synthetic salicylates can cause health problems.  In high doses salicylates are harmful to everyone and overdose can be potentially life threatening.  While most people tolerate them well, a small percentage of the population find that even small doses may cause significant health problems.

Salicylate sensitivity, or salicylate intolerance, refers to any adverse effect that occurs when a normal amount of salicylate is ingested. 

Common symptoms of salicylate sensitivity can affect any body system and may produce a very wide range of symptoms.  These may include, but are not limited to:

  • respiratory difficulties
  • bed-wetting
  • emotional, mental and behavioral disturbances
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • eczema and other skin complaints
  • gastro-intestinal disturbances and swelling

Salicylates are commonly found in foods that we know to be healthy (such as broccoli) and the levels in food can vary; with raw foods, dried foods and juices containing higher levels than cooked foods.

Salicylates are found in highest concentration in unripened fruits however amounts decrease as the fruit ripens.  They are often concentrated under the skin of fruit and in the outer leaves of vegetables.  Salicylates are very stable to processing, so cooking at high temperatures does not necessarily eliminate them.

Foods that are lower in salicylates include bananas, peas, brown or red lentils, potato, swedes, white cabbage and poppy seeds. Fresh meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, cereals and grains may contain negligible amounts, if any.

For a comprehensive list go to:

Foods that contain salicylates include fruit (apples, avocados, blueberries, dates, kiwi fruit, peaches, raspberries, figs, grapes, plums, strawberries, cherries, grapefruit, and prunes), vegetables (alfalfa, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, radishes, broad beans, chard, eggplant, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, and hot peppers), herbs and spices, jams and vinegars, coffee, beer, wine, herbal teas, nuts (pine, peanuts, pistachio, almond), ice creams and some sweets.

Other products that may contain salicylates include beauty products (shampoo, conditioner, cosmetics, sunscreen, toothpaste), herbal remedies, medicines, food colourings and flavourings.  A great resource is an online free recipe book found at:

For those who believe they may suffer from salicylate intolerance, it is advised you see your health practitioner.



For more handy info and food inspiration follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter for specials, new products, articles and more delivered right to your inbox!

Please note that while we take care in producing this guide, Commonsense accepts no liability for any error or omission in the information provided.