What are Salicylates?

By Luke Daley RNutr, MSc from Daley Nutrition | 101 views

Brief overview of salicylates

What are salicylates?….Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals that we find in nature such as fruit, vegetables but also aspirin and a vast variety of beauty products.  These nature chemicals at a preservative to plants, they reduce the process of rotting and can protect them from pests and diseases.  They are found in most parts of the plant but are in high concentrations in the leaves and bark.

The reason we put this post together is a personal one for myself.  I have suffered from salicylate intolerance for many years now, it came on after a stressful period in my life that changed how my immune system saw salicylates.  Since then I have developed hearing problems and Meniere’s disease, which is acutely sensitive to the salicylates I consume in my diet.  Some days I can be fine then others I have hearing loss, fatigue and irritability which I can track back to a certain food type.  After researching and playing with my diet I have found a good balance of salicylates in my diet.  This experience I use in my online and face to face consultations which clients that also struggle with this natural chemical and are often looking for the answer to ‘what are salicylates?’.

Like a lot of other naturally occurring chemicals, some humans can have reactions to salicylates that cause a variety of symptoms.  A lot of these symptoms can go unnoticed and are seen as part of a normal person’s life i.e. itching, light rashes, irritability, brain fog etc.  Children, in particular, can be sensitive to high levels of salicylates and it can create big changes in their mood and attention span.

what are salicylates?

What are the symptoms of salicylate intolerance?

The symptoms of salicylate intolerance range from person to person, research suggests that there are some key symptoms that most people experience if they have an intolerance.

  • Itchy skin or hives, that can be shown under the arm, under the nose, down the legs and under the neck.
  • Asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and breathlessness.
  • Headaches and migraines over a specific area of the cranium.
  • Anxiety and depression feelings.
  • Rapid heart rate increase and release or adrenaline.
  • Hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Irritability, brain confusion, moodiness and frustration. 
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Join swelling and pain.

As a suffer from salicylate intolerance I (Luke) suffer the highlighted symptoms the most.  But it can differ from person to person.

Which fruit and veg have salicylates in them?

Before we explain the fruit and veg that are OK to eat, we want to mention that fruit and veg should never be completely removed from the diet, they contain vital nutrients from growth and repair such as vitamin C, B, E, K and A as well as a range of minerals such as potassium, zinc and iron.

Our advice is to try and stay under 0.50mg of salicylates per 100g to keep symptoms low.  Please click on the below journal to find a list of foods and salicylate levels.


Safe fruit = bananas, golden delicious apples and mangos.

Fruit to avoid = most colourful fruits, berries, red apples, oranges etc.

Safe veg = most bland coloured veg are fine: green beans, cabbage, potato etc.

Veg to avoid = capsicums, broccoli, spinach, radishes.  

Herbs – most herbs and spices are really high in salicylates including, basil, curry powder, cajan.

Final Thought

Most fresh foods have salicylates making it rather hard to create a healthy balance diet that is low in salicylates.  If you are struggling to get balanced plan sorted then please email us to organise a meal plan that suits your needs.

What are salicylates?
Posted by Luke Daley, Registered Nutritionist, Msc, BSc (Hons)
Director and Founder of Daley Nutrition

A little about us….

Daley Nutrition is a community nutrition team based in Melbourne Victoria, we run a range of nutrition based programs such as workplace health programs and cooking demonstrations in Australia to raise people’s awareness of what they are eating and empower them to change certain eating habits.  We work with not for profit organisations such as local councils, Diabetes Australia & Nutrition Australia to create a healthy eating environment for children and adults.


To find out more about our Nutrition Services below images