Nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal whose salts are present in all soils. Extremely small quantities of this element are required in the human body for optimal health but according to the MELISA Foundation, nickel consumption or exposure triggers more allergic reactions than any other element, and approximately 15% of the human population suffers from a nickel allergy.
Individuals can be exposed to nickel in a variety of ways, but most human contact is attributed to jewelry and food. Food? I hear you cry. Food? If you have a nickel allergy you will know that jewellery, watch straps, coins and almost anything metal in the home and workplace probably contains some nickel. Because it’s so hard it’s very useful to use mixed with other metals to produce a very durable end product. Great! but not if you are allergic to nickel.
Individuals who suffer from a nickel allergy should avoid foods rich in this element. (Ref Livestrong) But how do you know which foods contain nickel and why? I have tried to understand here for you why some foods are high in nickel content and others not. However just because you have a nickel allergy doesn’t mean you will necessarily react to these foods. But if you are still having skin problems it could be worth investigating these foods in your diet and noticing whether they make you worse or have no effect at all.
High content nickel containing foods – the ones to avoid!
- Chocolate/Cocoa Powder – According to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, chocolate is one of the foods with the highest nickel content. Bittersweet chocolate contains a nickel concentration of 2.6 ug/g, milk chocolate has a nickel concentration of 1.2 ug/g and pure cocoa powder has a nickel concentration of 9.8 ug/g according to “Principles of Food Chemistry” by John M. deMan. The nickel content of chocolate is high due to the extensive refining process and constant contact with stainless steel machinery.
- Cashews – Cashews also contain a relatively high concentration of nickel. The nickel concentration of cashews is 5.1 ug/g according to “Principles of Food Chemistry.” The World’s Healthiest Foods website states that consumption of cashews can yield some health benefits, such as the prevention of gallstones, promotion of cardiovascular health and maintenance of healthy bones and muscles.
- Kidney Beans – Red kidney beans are another dietary source rich in nickel content. The nickel concentration of red kidney beans is 0.45 ug/g according to “Principles of Food Chemistry.”
- Green leafy vegetables – Spinach contains high levels of naturally occurring nickel, 0.39 ug/g according to “Principles of Food Chemistry.” Also avoid other green leafy vegetables e.g. kale, lettuce
- Legumes especially dried beans and lentils.
- Bean sprouts also have a high nickel content.
- Whole wheat and multigrain flours are high in nickel content. Avoid wheat and oat bran, oatmeal, brown rice, and flower seeds (such as sunflower and sesame).
- Nuts almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts
- Canned meats and fish, such as tuna.
Other high content nickel foods
- Shellfish (shrimp, oysters, mussels)
- Canned vegetables
- beans (green, brown, white)
- peas (including split peas)
- All canned fruits
- fresh and dried figs
- wheat bran products (whole wheat breads and cereals)
- multigrain breads
- Chocolate and cocoa drinks, especially chocolate milk and raspberry or citrus yogurt.
- Tea from dispensers
- Sunflower seeds
- sweets containing chocolate
- baking powder
- soya powder
- vitamin/mineral supplements containing nickel
- fibre tablets containing wheat bran
Foods low in nickel content (nb. these CAN aggravate nickel allergy)
- Raw tomatoes, onions and carrots
- Apples and citrus fruits and their juices
- Wine (especially red wine)
- Fish such as herring, mackerel and tuna
- Poultry, eggs and fish (except salmon)
- Aubergine or eggplant
Foods that you CAN eat on a nickel free diet
- Fruits including peaches, pears, raisins, rhubarb, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and other berries. Any of these can be eaten fresh or cooked, but not canned.
- Most vegetables are allowed on this diet. Recommended vegetables include: bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and cruciferous greens (cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy). Vegetables may be fresh or cooked; canned items are discouraged.
- All plain dairy products eg. milk, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt etc. are allowed.
- Grains: Refined wheat and most corn products are permitted on this diet. Pasta, white rice, cornflakes, cornmeal, and white breads are all low-nickel foods.
- Most kinds of animal protein are low in nickel content. Chicken, turkey, beef, and eggs are recommended. Do not eat canned meats and fish, such as tuna.
- Alcoholic beverages, coffee, and tea (though not from urns or machines) are allowed, as are sodas, and juices from low-nickel fruits.
Some other suggestions:
You could take a vitamin C supplement with each meal to slow the bodies absorption of nickel from the food you eat. If you also eat food rich in iron this could help too.
“Don’t drink or use in food preparation the first quart of water taken from the tap because your pipes may release nickel.”
“Replace nickel-plated utensils. You may use stainless steel pots and pans but avoid using them to cook acidic foods, which may cause pots and pans to release nickel.” Source: Mayo Foundation
Scientific studies into nickel in food
Vegetables usually contain more nickel than do other food items; high levels have been found in legumes, spinach, lettuce and nuts. Certain products, such as baking powder and cocoa powder, have been found to contain excessive amounts of nickel, perhaps related to nickel leaching during the manufacturing process.
Read more in “Human Exposure to Nickel” on Pubmed, IARC Sci Publ. 1984;(53):469-85. Grandjean P.
You may also like
I’ve written so many blogs about nickel allergies now so here are a few more you might like:
10 tips for coping with a nickel allergy
The Metal Allergy Guidebook Review
Thank you Ruth for your helpful article. My daughter has just been diagnosed with nickel allergy and I did not know it existed, we are changing the way she eats and the way the whole family eats. She is just 5 years old and has had severe stomach pains for the past year. She ate beans every day and this was making her sick, but we had no idea. Articles like this helps us understand better what she can and cannot eat.
Kathryn Woeppel says
Thank you for your information. I am also allergic to nickel and many if not all the foods with nickel make me sick!
Ruth Holroyd says
Thanks for sharing Kathryn. I do so love getting comments. An apologies for the hugely delayed response. I took some time off the blog, the comments spam filter stopped working and I have had 4,000 mostly spam comments to sift through this week! Gah! But so glad I found your comment amongst the dross. Welcome to my blog and I am sorry you have a nickel allergy. Very annoying.
Norma Ellinghausen says
Thank you Ruth….I suffered with nickel allergy and did not know for 4 years. I did not know there was
such a thing. I was constantly given Prednisone thinking it was Eczema. I was finally tested and
found I was allergic to nickel.
Sue Ing-Simmons says
Thanks for this although looking at this list it would just be better if I didn’t eat anything! What’s left when you cut out all of these things and most of them are healthy, too! Very depressing.
It looks like you are remving almost everything but fruit and meats. Dark green veggies are very much needed in the diet.
Michael, recommendations for a low nickel diet is unfortunately not about nutrition. Greens and almost everything else contain levels of nickel harmful to people who have an allergy and hypersensitivity to it. This list is correct in that regard.
Margret D says
It may be correct but id it means a diet lacks important nutrients that is an issue. A good suggestion is to take vitamin C with your nickel foods.
Leafy greens are not very much needed in the diet. Meat/organs/fats have the most bioavailable nutrients. Along with amino acids. Lots of research has come out regarding this. Using other veggies that aren’t high in nickel will be enough. Since we get most of our nutrient needs met with meat & eggs.
Ruth Holroyd says
Do we get most nutient needs from meat and eggs? I’d not heard this before, but I do know that every year there are fewer and fewer nutrients left in our fruit and vegetables. I just try to eat a varied and diverse diet and eat everything in moderation and I do eat some leafy greens and seem to be OK. Maybe there isn’t much nickel left in them any longer!
I am vegan and I have a severe nickel allergy. I eat a lot of legumes. I have noticed a constant rash over my stomach and thighs. I don’t really enjoy a lot of the foods mentioned on a ‘nickel free’ diet. Will antihistamines control the rash or will I just have to live with it? I have never enjoyed meat, eggs or cheese and I hate aubergines.
Hi there Sarah, well the rash could be caused by anything but antihistamines may help relieve the itch. I would however be inclined to see if you can find out what is causing the rash. Is it any skin care products, washing powder, clothing, does it flare up when you’ve done certain things, or eaten certain things? You could try just reducing your legume intake or avoiding them for a week to see if the rash is related but it could have nothing whatsoever to do with it. It’s a long learning curve. Have you been to a dermatologist of consulted your doctor about it? It could be that you have eczema or other skin condition and some topical treatments may help clear it up. Good luck!
I get a rash on my lower leg in response to consuming too much nickel sulfate for my body to handle. The only thing that calms it is apple cider vinegar compresses.
No, anti-Histamines will not help with the rash. From what I was told and researched is that Nickel causes a cellular hyper sensativity. It is not the same as an external allergy. What happens is nickel changes the bodies DNA coding to where the cells are not recognised then creating an auto immune response these cells begin to try to evict the cell which is no longer recognised as your DNA. All the food that is good for you as a normal person now becomes your own Poison causing inflamitory reponses throughout the body. As a fellow nickel allergy person if you are vegan start learning to cook with fruit, no beans and low nickel veggies. Believe me you will be glad you did. Because this allergy causes more harm then good and cancer is one of the bad things it does. My friend is also allergic she weighed 350-400 lbs Dr had her on pills for swelling nothing helped rash on neck and legs. I told her about nickel, her Dr put her on low nickel diet and took her off all meds containing nickel she is 144lbs now in a year of dieting.
Ruth Holroyd says
WOW kudos to your friend on the diet and weight loss. I’m sure that will make a huge difference to her health and wellbeing. Great comment. You know more than me about nickel allergy!
Andrea Montour says
Hi… OMG!!! I’m so Itchy.. It started in June or July of this summer.. Had no Idea?? Now I know …My Dermotologist said I’m “High on the List” …Severe Nickel Allergy…(Contact). I Love Oatmeal…and a lot of other Foods mentioned…And I Love My Earrings,Bracelets,etc. I’am a Girly Girl…This is all new to Me.. Since I got the results yesterday.. 🙁 Cobalt too..!!
Hi Andrea, Oh I feel your pain, but you CAN get nickel free jewellery, it’s just more expensive #sodslaw and don’t panic too much. You may find some of these foods are OK for you. Experiment with eliminating and then reintroduce them carefully one by one to see if you see a change or reaction. Good luck! Will look a link to that nickel free jewellery for you. Good luck!
I was also diagnosed with a nickel allergy around this time last year and had to quit wearing some of my older jewelry. I just found a jewelry company and decided to work for them because I liked their concept. All of their jewelry is nickel free, lead free & hypoallergenic. I love that I’m able to wear it without breaking out. You can check out my link to my boutique where you can find some of my favorite picks or checkout the whole gallery~ Let me know if you have any questions! Hope this was helpful~ =)
Oooohhhhh. Looking forward to checking out this jewellery…
Oh gosh sorry if it was. I get so much junk messages I just can’t sift through them now. I have to just clear it out but you got through that time. Thanks. Ruth
what’s the link to your jewelry gallery?
Try Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=nickel+free+costume+jewellery&tag=googhydr-21&index=jewelry&hvadid=56504022146&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5798292625311870118&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_1zjmom2qtm_b
How were you diagnosed?? What test?
Ruth Holroyd says
I was diagnosed with a patch test but it was pretty obvious from the blisters it causes when in contact with my skin.
…at last I have found straight forward lists & clear information so I can plan my shopping/diet, thank you. Following an 85 patch test I have been confirmed as Nickel allergic, very positive, but as I do not wear any jewellery with nickel, all tested negative, I am starting a food diary and reducing the high offenders. Ate quite a few high content items last week only to have really bad reactions, flare ups on face and neck, over the weekend! Hoping some of my tummy/sleep/fatigue issue may also be resolved.
I really hope you find some relief. Fingers crossed the new diet helps. Good luck and glad the blog helped.
I found out about my nickel allergy 7 years ago. I was a vegetarian for 8 years prior and it definitely was an adjustment. My nickel allergy causes anaphylaxis and swelling of my tongue and lips as well as hives and bloating. It’s awful. I have been trying to cut down on meat and dairy intake for personal reasons but it is really a challenge. I have 2 questions I would like help with.
1) legume proteins like pea or nut proteins used in products like Daiya brand cheese, is it still high in nickel? I don’t know what the processing/extraction of the protein entails.
2) what are your thoughts on chelation therapy for heavy metals/nickel detox?
I wish there was something I could do to kick this allergy all together (I miss eating beans and lettuce!) but at least I could at least try to find some things to make it easier.
Thanks for your help.
Vicki Montague - The Free From Fairy says
This is really interesting! Someone has just left a comment on my site saying that perhaps I should try a low nickel diet. I have never heard of this! Presumably if I had a problem with nickel I would get it from touching nickel not just from eating things with it in??? I am pretty certain that dairy and or eggs are the cause of my eczema on my hands..but perhaps not!?
Yes you would most definitely have a problem with jewellery. It doesn’t always happen immediately but I can’t wear anything wit nickel for more than half a day before it starts to feel really irritated. If I wear it for longer the skin blisters and gets really nasty. Ear rings were not a good idea for me, really nasty. Dairy causes my eczema to flare up but now also causes anaphylaxis. Eggs could too but tests would not show up if it’s a delayed mild reaction like this. All very frustrating. All you can do is prove it by doing an elimination diet and maybe try to consume in moderation if you can to maintain tolerance. Depends how bad the eczema gets. Mine got so bad avoidance was the only answer.
I was just diagnosed with an ingested nickel allergy. No problems at all with jewelry so far, just foods.
I just got diagnosed with the NICKEL allergy a few weeks ago after a patch test that caused blisters on my back along with an allergy to THERMIROSOL. I’m still learning what to eat. I tend to itch all over with no comfort. My Dr. said to take Benadryl at night only. Having to remove things and foods from home is a job in itself. It’s been hard to figure out what I can eat and how to make a meal out of it.
Any meal suggestions, let me know?
Hi,how much vitamin c do you use? I have had problems with high dosage before. Would really appreciate knowing what levels help. Thanks God bless
Joan Cameron says
I have nickel allergies too and I been working for (get this) a chocolate company for 28 yrs. Yeah, chocolate, High in nickel and I eat it at times and breathe it. Also, I thought I was benefiting myself by drinking green tea but was told that is one of the highest in nickel. I eat Special K Cereal every morning and now think I have to stop it. So how can I get on a healthy diet when a lot of the good healthy thinks contain nickel. Besides Nickel, I am allergic to dog, cat, corn, hazelnut, gold, nickel, perfumes, dyes, mold, roaches, ragweed and dust mites. I may even be forgetting something. I had such a bad allergic reaction years ago I went into shock. I had hives practically from head to toe and was swollen especially my eyes. It was horrible. So now I have to go back to dr. and get on a low-nickel diet. It seems we cannot avoid nickel completely because it’s in too many things. Oh, and I had a bad reaction to vincomycin when the gave it to me in the I.V. I was scratching my scalp so hard that the dr. seen the marks and my chest was completely red like I had bad sunburn. I had to be shot up more than once and immediately take off the meds. If I told you all the other health problems I have besides my allergies you probably wonder how I still go to work and make it through every day. I don’t remember a day when I said, “I feel pretty good today”! Pain, suffering and more. I just got used to pushing myself but I am finding out more and more about myself like having Hashimotto’s Throiditis which is an Auto Immune disease and it cannot be stopped. My own immune system is killing my thyroid, piece by piece. I met a woman yesterday when I went for a Bone density test and she couldn’t believe I had so many health issues because she said I looked good. Looks certainally can be deceiving. This is the tip of the iceburg, there is much more not mentioned here but think I said enough for now. I’m more concerned about my 24 yr. old son who was diagnosed with a
Brain AVM which is in a bad place and in size is a grade 4. (big) It was found on accident when he didn’t pass a hearing test (in one ear) for Fire dept. He went for MRI for inner ear and that’s when they discovered it. 2.5% chance per year it can hemmorage. It’s a birth defect where a certain area of veins and/or arteries did not branch out correctly so the blood has to flow through this tangle and it can widen over time and cause a hemmorage. I left it in god’s hands because as a parent I cannot help with this problem. I would have these crying bouts but I believe god calmed my spirit because I am leaving it in his hands and he knows that! I still embrace every day with the best possible attitude and I don’t like being mean to people and my problems are not theirs but I have a lot of support from family, co-workers and other dear friends. Good luck everyone and do the best you can with your allergies, I am already on a diet for high cholesterol but some how have to mix it in with the nickel allergy. Keep the faith and your strength and keep pushing on. Take care the best you can, Joanie
I truly feel for you and your son….my doctor who has been treating my allergies since 2009 has resorted to turning off my immune system. He is hoping my body will stop attacking itself.
I live in my house….my own personal bubble. I am anaphalactic to perfumes and various scents. Have been rushed to the hospital on many occassions over the years. Along with the allergy to nickel..rubber…thimersol…and the list is 3 pages long including various foods and chemicals. The diet takes time…trial and error. I have found the best relief for the rash is cold compress…the warmer your body is the itching gets worse. Using things like advil aggravates the rash caused by nickel.
I have poured over many websites for the low nickel diet. I do my best but I miss so many foods still…peanut butter was very hard to give up….alas when the allergy gets to the point where you spit up blood from those foods you stop eating them.
As so many allergies can be progressive as in my case….you learn to accept a new way of living. As for things to eat every person has different likes and dislikes.
If you really want that lettuce the best time is in the middle of the summer as that is when the nickel content in plants is at its lowest. Ensuring you have a good level of iron and make sure you have the vitamin c before you indulge. Yes organic vegetables have less nickel because they have not been sprayed with any chemicals containing nickel. Of course learning about the required vitamins and minerals on this diet is also important. This diet causes low magnesium levels. Your vitamins and minerals reduced to the point that my doctor strongly recommended me taking supplements to compensate for the change in diet. Check your DHA levels as well… higher protein diet (meat) obviously adds a certain level of additional fat.
You will find your way. It is wonderful that you have support.
Thank you Ruth for creating a place for discussion as well as the list.
Do organic vegetables/grains contain less nickel?
Not really! In fact it is the soil that causes high Nickel content so the more organic the higher the nickel.
Ruth Holroyd says
WOW really? It’s almost impossible to work out isn’t it?
Is broccoli high in nickel? Some sites say it is and other sites say it isn’t.
All site have different list because soil…water….air…growth process is different around the world
I am in Canada so my list is a little different that is why you need to go through the trial and error.
I have to pay close attention to where things come from as we are such a diverse country that food comes from around the world.
I’ve had dishydrotic eczema for almost 2 years on my hands now, recently I read on another site that some with this problem found that it was caused by a nickel allergy. I’ve always known I had an allergy to jewelry with nickel but did not think about it being in food. My eczema has really been horrible recently, my hands are raw! Now that I see the list of high nickel foods I see why! Most all my favorite foods are on that list! Now I’m wondering about the products I use in my hair? My hair gel has soy protein, another has some form of oat product another has sea kelp which has nickel! I would guess these would have an effect on me too. I wear plastic gloves to use all hair products but guess they could be soaking in through my scalp!?? Ugh!!
PS. What is dishydrotic eczema? Can you describe it to me? I have nodular prurigo which is itchy lumps… very veryt itchy lumps that take months to go, can get infected and then bleed like you wouldn’t believe when you scratch them.
I have dishydrotic eczema also. I have blisters on my hands and between my toes that pop and peel. They itch, burn and hurt, my toes being the worst. I was told this was caused by a nickel allergy but following the nickel diet does not help. I believe it is also caused by stress.
Hi Lisa, I get these too, the blisters though never had a name for them. I cut out processed food, alcohol and reduce stress, all those things put stress on my body and cause inflammation and it really reduces and sometimes gets rid of it for ages, till stress rears its head again. Keep on fighting.
Thanks for the advice Ruth! I will give it a try!
Rachel Mathews says
Almost all my fingers started peeling, cracking, and bleeding about 18 months ago. I saw at least 5 different dermatologists. Everyone of them diagnosed my problem as psoriasis or eczema. They prescribed all sorts of creams and ointments and finally even light therapy. None of these gave me any reief.
Two months ago upon my request my dermatologist did a patch test for nickel and the result came negative. Somehow, I did not trust this result. One reason, I have had rashes on my ear lobes, whenever I wore ear rings containing nickel. I decided to go on a complete nickel free and histamine free diet about 6 weeks ago. For the last three weeks I have seen a tremendous change in all my fingers. It is no longer peeling, burning, cracking, or bleeding.I am planning to continue with this strict diet for one more month and then I will slowly introduce one food item at a time to understand what food exactly is giving me this problem. My husband and I have been observing heart healthy diet for the last 12- 15 years which included whole wheat products, brown rice, dark chocolate, egg white, almonds, green leafy vegetables, salmon, all sorts of lentils, grapes, dried dates, prunes, apricots. Now all these are very high in nickel/hystamine.
Right now my meal contain plain milk, plain yogurt, some cheese, white rice, moderate amount of potato, cucumber, egg yolk, moderate amount of carrot. I am not missing the other food as I am determined to overcome my skin problems in my fingers.
I hope some of you will find the same relief that I have found with my diet.
Good luck Rachel. I hope you discover what triggers your skin problems. Are you keeping a food, mood and symptoms diary? I found this really helped me when I did an elimination diet years ago but fill it in religiously or you could miss something.
Thank you so much for the blog. For the past year have had horrible facial swelling twice needing hospital visits and prednisone , itchy red inflamed skin around my face and neck area resembling a butterfly appearance. After many visits to an ENT doctor ,dermatologist,and an internist who collectively diagnosed dermatitis, duh!!!!!, I discovered a functional dermatologist who recognized the need for a patch test and we discovered a nickel sensitivity finally. I also had a blood test for food sensitivities and now am on a dairy free,wheat free, egg free, sesame,cashew,peanut free diet. Having struggled with weight for years, I am noticing that once the inflammation subsides the weight loss finally happens little by little. My functional nutritionist explained that by lessening the histamines in the body, digestion improves and I may finally see results after years of struggling with diet failures. She did encourage Vitamin C at each meal so I need to really follow that after reading here the similar advice about C. This will take trial and error but I will continue so that I can enjoy good health and be able to share this situation with my internist to hopefully encourage him to think outside of the box as the functional medicine doctors do. It won’t happen but I will keep on trying .
Ruth Holroyd says
Robin thank you so much for sharing. This is fantastic news. I’m so pleased. It is so frustrating that it can take so many of us so long to reach a diagnosis and discover what foods or external triggers are causing all our health problems. So lovely to hear from you. Keep us posted with your progress.
I bumped into this article upon researching nickel-free diet for my wife. Thanks for putting together the list. However I noticed a few things that you listed on both sides of ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ to consume including cucumbers, eggplant, eggs, tea.
A list from other articles actually suggests avoiding cruciferous greens (cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts), but you recommended consuming them.
It’s kind of confusing.
Ruth Holroyd says
I’ll have to double check… I did use internet sources and am not an expert… Just trying to put some pointers out there and help people. Apologies for the confusion
MarySue Foster says
After several months of what seemed to be contact dermatitis, I did a skin test in July 2015 and found several allergies, including NICKEL. Ingested nickel. (My back has not totally healed yet, after nearly 18 months, btw.) I keep checking different sites for lists and have found some things that work ok for me. Chocolate and nuts are definitely out. My most allergy-free time came with a month in Costa Rica in 2017. I tried eating just about every kind of fresh fruit and vegetable without any ill effects. I think it’s because they are grown without the many chemicals used in the US.
I will say — some of my response is almost immediate, swollen lips, puffy eyes, I’ve thrown up a couple of times during a meal. Occasionally the response is delayed by several days — making the detective work quite challenging. BUT when my skin breaks out later that day or the next, it takes several weeks for it to clear up. So trying an elimination diet for me means staying off (or on) the items for several weeks at a time.
It’s way harder than I thought it would be and I certainly don’t have it handled. Thank you for your list.
Ruth Holroyd says
Yes totally agree. It’s a slow road to work out what your triggers are but the best way is with an elimination diet. Always seek medical advice before embarking on this as it can be tricky and do not restrict your diet unnecessarily… Sounds like you’ve made really good strides to getting to a place where nickel is not reacting with your skin. Good luck. I still have a few niggly things to pinpoint with my skin but fear stress may be a big factor so just gotta ride this bit of my life till I can escape it.
In 2006 I had “essure” implanted. At the time I knew they were made of nickel/titanium alloy and I knew I was allergic to prolonged contact with Stainless Steel or Surgical Steel what I did not know when I agreed to have the inserts is all Metal contains Nickel, also, that steel contains the highest amounts of nickel so my allergy to steel could have been caused by the nickel in the steel not the steel itself or it could have been that they had a stainless steel core covered with nickel? Whichever it was I now have to watch what I eat, I found this out after showing signs of nickel allergy years later. I decided to look for a list of high “Nickel foods” thank you for having such a complete list for me to print out and stick in my kitchen, so that I can have a reminder of what I can and can not make or what to substitute. Most of all these foods are my favorites and I have had to take them out of my diet, now trying to find things that have similar flavors without the nickel? Do Artichokes have a high nickel content? With that in mind please also let everyone know to stay away from cooking with stainless steel, stick to cast iron, non damaged non stick or ceramic coated. Thank you!
Nancy Ogg says
You recommend avoiding leafy greens such as spinach, kale and lettuce.
However, under low-nickel foods you mention the cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy etc, more commonly called the Brassicae.
You’re aware that kale is also a Brassica? Or did you just add it under “greens” because that it how it’s usually described?
Ruth Holroyd says
Hi Nancy, I did lots of research and gathered the data from lots of sources. I’m not sure why certain leafy veg might contain differing levels of nickel but perhaps further research is required…
I was diagnosed with severe nickel allergy this year. It’s been Hell! It “came to surface” with a bang!! It was right after I had discovered an awesome kale and spinach salad (I ate three servings in 3 days). Have avoided kale and spinach since then. Boy do I sure miss them!!
do the organic food contain nickel? Since they are organic, they should be free of all the chemicals? Thank you
Carol Kincaid says
Hello thought I would tell you even though organic which I eat. still can contain nickel as it is a mineral and is in the earth. Hope that helps
Thank you so much for this information, Ruth. I was recently diagnosed with a nickel allergy and am waiting for the results of a urine screen for nickel. If my levels are quite high I am considering treatment with disulfuram which I understand is a chelating agent for nickel. Are you familiar with this treatment, and if so, do you recommend it to eliminate some of the accumulated nickel in the body?
Ruth Holroyd says
Wendy I haven’t heard of this before but it sounds like a good idea. Good luck.
I’m suffering with eczema atopic dermatitis for over 3 months due to stress from my yorkie who was put down last week. I went for allergy and patch test. Nickel and cobalt just a couple of things. I can’t wear any clothes next to the dermatitis on arms and back. On betamethasone.. triamcelone.. live on vanicream.. icegel packs… now I start protopic generic. How do you eat a salad on a nickel free diet. I eat chocolate every day. The diet is very confusing. Which lettuce is OK. I live in Manhattan. How do you live with this. I’m a makeup junkie… throw everything out…. I lost my dog my only love.. because of this I couldn’t handle her and me. She was 16. Now this. I’m so depressed. I have to start a life without her. I eat raspberries.. now I see that’s on the no list. I eat sushi.. where is that.
Avoid chocolate. My eczema has been so much better since I did that. It makes my skin very dry. I avoid teas too. I’m Chinese so it’s offered so much but I explain why.
I still have eczema bubbles and peeling on my hands, but the rest of my body is much better. I need to start keeping a journal… next step.
well tell me what to do…..when almost everything i eat….causes that insane itching…..if someone accidentally gives me a nickel in my change….just by the touch…i itch for 3-4, even after washing my hands immediately. everything you list as low-nickel and recommened ok to consume….makes me it 3-4 days….yes i use the steroid cream and an anti-itch medication….but after consumption….even low doses…i itch until all traces are out of my system…..so you say i can have white bread….really? don’t think so….wheat flour number one ingredient…..cornmeal?….don’t think so….made from ground CORN….i think the author should consult more experts who deal with extreme allergic reactions to even low-dose nickel exposure…..and you guys didn’t even mention how it’s in cosmetics (especailly blue eye shadows…..browns i have found to be safe!) it’s in jewely….yes in silver and gold…..what do you thing that other non-pure percent is….so i do use a nickel guard to coat those things…i got my information from a dermatologist…..but i’m considering going to an allergy specialist…..i just think when you don’t know the extent of the suffering one goes through…..research before you post the answer!!!!
Debra Solomon says
Tea leaves have a lot of nickel in them … and apples and Citrus can be triggers for some people …
As the allergy progresses in some people you become more sensitive to nickel in food.
Dr’s sadly know very little .
Irene B says
Thank you for this helpful list. So hard to find good summaries. Am struggling through this, especially giving up leafy greens and whole grains. And I thought all these years I was being healthy! But the rash has gotten out of hand.
Ruth Holroyd says
Hi Irene, good luck! and thanks. Bear in mind though that our bodies are all so complex and you may be able to tolerate some of the nickel foods in moderation. Or indeed may not react to them all. Experiment with reintroducing them and I hope your skin improves.
DO NOT USE VITAMIN C BEFORE EVERY MEAL!!!!!!!
There is such a thing as overdosing on vitamin c, though not deadly it is dangerous for your health, i can’t believe anyone would advise doing something like that. Yes, using vitamin c can be helpful but you should read what is written on the box of the supplement you are taking and never ever use a bigger dose than it is advised on the box!!!!
Hey there, my nickel allergy is one due to ingesting aliments and less from direct contact. This blog has helped me, but I barely can’t eat .. just milk products and meat. Still tasting, but it’s to severe to try to exclude as I am trying to leave without medicine at least a while. But I don’t know what drinks can I enjoy, I support white proseco, what else?
I’m allergic to nickel too. One overlooked food is white bread. Alot have soy in them. I’ve also switched to drinking distilled water. One very good tip is taking a probiotic everyday. Has to be very good quality. I noticed a big difference with my symptoms in a few days. Also some others had success with adding brewers yeast to their food. I’m lactose intolerant and I’ve noticed I can handle milk while on probiotics. Watch out taking vitamin c and iron. Use only vitamin c gummy and liquid iron. Some vitamin supplements have nickel. Find out your safe doses. Too much iron is very bad.
My last tip is buy Levi Jean’s. They are nickel free. I actually contacted them. I’ve have no reaction to them. Also Levi belts too.
How do I know if my vitamin C has nickel in it? I am taking Vitamin C 1000 from a company called Now
Ruth Holroyd says
Hi Pinky, I’m really sorry I’m not sure. I can look into it. From what I’ve read Iron and Vitamin C are good to help combat the effects of vitamin C in food. Vitamin c decreases the absorption. I will check my blog to make sure I’ve not misled and got that wrong.
I have a serious nickel allergy that I only found out last month. I almost died from it. I had a metal orthopedic implant that had nickel in it and I almost died! All list have different food such as you cant have cauliflower another list says you can.
There doesn’t seem to be any agreement on any of the lists so frustrating!
Ruth Holroyd says
Gosh Pinky, that sounds awful. Did you have to have the implant removed? It is very frustrating. It was very hard putting this list together. I’m not an expert though, just a humble blogger. You could try a nutritionist or dietician. They should be able to help you.
Having a nickel allergy is wonderful isnt it? Just kidding! I almost died from a metal implant and kept telling the doctor he said it was in my head and it was at the top orthopedic hospital in the US. Then I went to Mount Sinai West in NYC and a doctor there diagnosed me in less than 2 minutes and tests proved him right!
The problem is I have severe Osteoporosis maybe from the metal which I just had taken out and every single food that is good for the ones like soy, chic peas and avocado have high levels of nickel and if I eat it I dont just break out I can have a seizure and go into a coma. It sucks! Just venting!
Ruth Holroyd says
Oh that sounds really awful. Can you cleanse nickel from your body? After that nasty metal was removed- I’m guessing they took it out? Sending you lots of love. Safe eating
Pinky Lew says
they did take it out but it can take years and years to detox I have heard about dialysis but insurance wont pay for it
Sorry to hear about your conditions. My mom had similar symptoms, but hers weren’t as severe as yours. I hope you somehow feel better soon. My prayers!
How do you know if vitamins contain Nickel? There are no labels that I can find indicating nickel or not having nickel.
Tenho alergia de sulfato de niquel.
Não sei mais o que faço.
Meu ouvido todo ferido e coça tempo todo.
Fiz tratamento com alergista 4 anos tomando uma vacina quinze dias,
Aff meu ouvido continuar mesmo jeito.
Hi Ruth & everybody else. I was diagnosed with Nickel allergic contact dermatitis in 1980, was prescribed Celestone M Cream and told to not wear anything containing Nickel, however nothing was said about Nickel in food being an issue. Fast forward to 2013, my hands are an unsightly scabby mess, so I have patch testing which shows the Nickel allergy along with a couple of other allergies, and that Dermatologist tells me about how Nickel in food can be an issue and suggested a low Nickel diet. At the time I was drinking very strong black leaf tea and when I switched to teabags, the difference really was astounding and my hands started to clear up withing 3 days. What I’ve pasted below is from the print out the Dermatologist gave me and it’s from a Dr Bruce Tate, Dermatologist. I hope this helps 🙂
The following FOODS have a high nickel content and should be avoided:
. shellfish – prawns, shrimp, mussels, crabs and crayfish.
. vegetables – peas (green or split), beans (green, brown, white, bean sprouts), spinach, lettuce, leeks, lentils,
soy protein powder. Also avoid large amounts of uncooked carrot or tomato.
. grains – wheat bran, rye bran, unpolished rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, millet (and things containing these).
. fruits – prunes, dates, figs, pineapple, raspberry. Perhaps apples and citrus fruits.
. nuts – peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and other nuts,
. seeds – sesame, linseed, sunflower, soy foods (including meat with soy additives).
. confection – chocolate, marzipan, strong licorice.
. other – baking powder (in large amounts), vitamins containing nickel (e.g. Vitamin B12).
NOTE: – stainless steel cookware and utensils is NOT a problem unless used to cook acid foods like rhubarb or stewed fruits which can leach nickel from the metal. Eat only small amounts of tinned foods.
. replace nickel plated utensils like egg beaters, poaching rings, etc.
The following DRINKS have a high nickel content so should be avoided:
. chocolate and cocoa drinks. Tea from drink dispensers
. beer and red wine.
. the first litre of water taken from a tap in the morning should not be used to make food or drink as overnight the nickel from the metal tap, etc. may have leached into the water.
It is NOT necessary to avoid the following:
. all kinds of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy foods. Unflavoured yoghurt and yeasts are OK.
. vegetable! – potatoes, parsley, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, white or Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, red beets, corn, eggplant, red or green peppers, cucumber, dill, mushrooms, champignons and onions in moderation.
. grain products – finely milled wheat or rye flour, whole-grain rye, wheat bread (in moderation), white rice,
cornmeal or cornstarch, popcorn, macaroni or spaghetti. Cereals made of these grains,
. fruits- pears, peaches, raisins, all berries except raspberries. Rhubarb.
. drinks – coffee or tea (not too strong and in moderation), soft drinks, some alcoholic beverages.
Ruth Holroyd says
Thanks so much for this wonderful information! I hope your hands are now healed up.
Hi just wondering does any one else suffer breathing issues example needing an inhaler 20 mins up to even 24 hours . Also does anyone feel or actually fall asleep after eating something that has nickel in I find that I yawn a lot then my eyes water through tiredness then I fall asleep sometimes it wears off in a couple of hours and I don’t need to go to sleep or need my inhalers but most of the time I’m knocked out . I have asked my doctor for an epie pen but he said no.
Glad to actually read I am not the only one who suffers with this and how difficult it is. I have been diagnosed with nickel and cobalt allergy . Discovered after three years of training to be a nail technician but the acrylic has nickel in which matched the numbers which were on the list which the specialist gave me . I also found gel polish and other nail products contain this and other things like blue dye, blue crayons and leather ( example sitting on a leather seat )it give me spots or blisters hope this helps