Low Nickel Diet for Nickel Allergy

Published:  09/21/2017

Nickel is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis: a skin rash or irritation caused by touching an allergen. A doctor will diagnose you to see if you have an allergy to nickel by looking at your skin and performing a skin patch test. 

Touching nickle or nickel in the diet of a nickel-sensitive person can prompt dermatitis. Careful selection of food with relatively low nickel concentration can bring a reduction in the total dietary intake of nickel per day. 

If you have a nickel allergy, reducing external contact with nickel is the first step. A quick internet search will provide you with lots of ideas of all the items that might contain nickel. 

If you find that you are stilling experiencing symptoms, you can avoid foods containing nickel and this might help. 

Careful selection of food with relatively low nickel concentration can bring a reduction in the total dietary intake of nickel per day.  This can lead to fewer and shorter flares but may not completely eliminate all your symptoms.

To see if this will work, it is important that you follow this strictly for 1 to 3 months. If you do not see improvement after following this diet for 1 to 3 months, contact your dietitian and/or doctor. If you do not have a registered dietitian, I provide remote, phone or teleconferencing consultations.

As with all food sensitivities and allergies, it is recommended that you keep a food diary in order to track what works for you and what doesn't work for you. To do this write down all foods.amounts and also make note of time and type of symptoms you get. Also make note of no reaction.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The amount of nickel in the soil and water used to grow the food can affect nickel content of foods.
  • Avoid or moderate canned foods. Processed and canned foods can add nickel via equipment used in manufacturing and leaching from the metallic can.
  • Run the water in your sink for a five minutes before using it to ingest. Tap water may contain nickel. Hot water can leach nickel from faucets into the water sitting overnight in the fixtures. 
  • Avoid stainless steel cookware and nickel plated utensils when cooking with acidic foods. Stainless steel cookware such as stainless steel can leach nickel into the food if cooking with acidic foods such as tomato, rhubarb, vinegar or lemon. Alternatives are ceramic, cast iron and glass options.
  • Consider vitamin C and/or iron supplementation with meals. Eating foods high in vitamin C and iron can reduce the absorption of ingested nickel.  Avoid or moderate vitamin supplements/drinks containing nickel.

General Recommendations for What Food to Eat and Avoid For a Nickel Allergy

For Nickel Content by Food Sources in foods go here. Amounts of dietary nickel were gathered from literature review [1,4,6]. 

The overall goal of a low-nickel diet is to not exceed 150 μg of nickel per day. [5]

Following a point based diet 10 μg= 1 point. Daily goal is less than 15 points [4]. Low-nickle diet scoring system found here. 

FRUIT Peaches, pears, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries are all considered to be low-nickel fruits. Any of these can be eaten fresh or cooked, but not canned. Raspberries, pineapple, figs, dates, and prunes should be avoided. Apples, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are low in nickel content but can exacerbate allergy symptoms if someone is very sensitive.

VEGETABLE Recommended vegetables include: bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and cruciferous greens (cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy). Avoid green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, lettuce), bean sprouts and legumes, especially dried beans and lentils,peas, spinach,  soy anything.

DAIRY All plain dairy products--milk, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt--are allowed. Avoid chocolate milk and raspberry or citrus yogurt.

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. Whole wheat and multigrain flours, however, are high in nickel content. Avoid wheat and oat bran, oatmeal, brown rice, and flower seeds (such as sunflower and sesame), whole wheat pasta, buckwheat, millet, muesli, multi grain breads, brown rice, wheat germ, oatmeal.

NUTS SEEDS SOY Avoid nuts, seeds, and soy (soybeans, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, Tofutti ice cream, Boca Burgers and other soy based burgers, soy milks).

ANIMAL PROTEIN Most kinds of animal protein are low in nickel content. Chicken, turkey, beef, and eggs are recommended. Shellfish, such as clams, shrimp and oysters, salmon are higher in nickel. Do not eat canned meats and fish, such as tuna. 

BEVERAGES Alcoholic beverages, coffee, and tea (though not from urns or machines) are allowed, as are sodas, and juices from low-nickel fruits. Avoid apple and citrus juices and chocolate drinks.

AGGRAVATING FOODS Various food items and drinks can aggravate nickel dermatitis even though the nickel content of these foods may be low. These include beer, wine (in particular, red wine), herring, mackerel, tuna, tomato, onion, carrot, and certain fruits, in particular, apples and citrus fruits (juice). These vegetables can usually be tolerated when cooked.

  1. Di Gioacchino M, Ricciardi L, De Pità O, Minelli M, Patella V, et al. (2014) Nickel oral hyposensitization in patients with systemic nickel allergy syndrome. Annals of medicine 46: 31-37.
  2. Weiner HL (1997) Oral tolerance: immune mechanisms and treatment of autoimmune diseases. Immunol Today 18: 335-343.
  3. Jacob SE, Hamann D, Goldenberg A, Connelly E (2015) Easter Egg Hunt Dermatitis: Systemic Allergic Contact Dermatitis Associated with Chocolate Ingestion. Pediatric Dermatology 32: 231-223.
  4. Scicchitano P, Cameli M, Maiello M, Modesti P, Muiesan M, et al. (2014) Nutraceuticals and dyslipidaemia: Beyond the common therapeutics. Journal of Functional Foods :11-32.
  5. Mislankar M, Zirwas MJ (2013) Low-nickel diet scoring system for systemic nickel allergy. Dermatitis 24: 190-195.
  6. Kamerud K,Hobbie K, Anderson K (2013) Stainless Steel Leaches Nickel and Chromium into Foods during Cooking. J Agric Food Chem 61: 9495-9501.

Sources of Dietary Nickel To Avoid

All canned items

All nuts (walnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, soy nuts)

All seeds (sunflower seeds, linseed)


Baking powder, large amounts,


Bran, wheat, bran biscuits, some fiber tablets



Chocolate and cocoa drinks, especially dark chocolate, chocolate milk and raspberry or citrus yogurt

Chocolate, cocoa and beverages containing them


Commercial salad dressings


Dried Fruits

Fiber Tablets Containing Wheat Bran

Figs Fresh and Dried





Legumes: Peas, Lentils, Peanut, Soy Beans and Chickpeas










Multi grain breads

Multigrain Breads




Peas (Including Green and Split Peas)




Red Kidney Beans


Rye bran


Sesame seeds

Shellfish (Shrimp, Oysters, Mussels, Clams, Crawfish)

Soy Products


Sprouts, Beans and Alfalfa

Sunflower Seeds

Sweets Containing Chocolate

Tea from drink dispensers (the nickel leaches into the tea)

Vitamin/Mineral Supplements Containing Nickel

Vitamins containing nickel

Wheat Bran Products (Whole Wheat Breads And Cereals)

Whole Grain

Whole Wheat

FOODS LOW IN NICKEL CONTENT  (GF= gluten free)  Some may aggravate symptoms even though they are low in nickel: red wine, beer, herring, mackerel, tuna, onion, tomato, carrot, onion, apple and citrus. some tolerated when cooked.

1/2 & 1/2

Apple Pie (GF crust)

Apples and citrus fruits and their juices





Beer can aggravate symptoms




Brussel Sprouts


Cabbage, white

Cakes and biscuits not containing Buckwheat almonds or other nuts, cocoa,





Chinese Cabbage





Cottage cheese

Cranberry juice



Dill pickles



Fish such as herring, mackerel and tuna can aggravate symptoms

Flour, white wheat

Garlic in moderation

GF Mac n Cheese

GF ramen noodles

Grape Juice




Hot dog




Maple Syrup


Meatloaf with GF binder

Milk (no chocolate)

Millet or chocolate Muesli and other similar breakfast cereals



Onion, small amount

Oranges can aggravate symptoms




Peppers, Green and Red



Poultry, eggs and fish (except salmon)

Raw tomatoes, onions and carrots


Rice or corn cereals

Rice, white



Spinach small amount



Tomato small amount

Tuna in water (but NOT a can) can aggravate symptoms



Vanilla ice cream


White rice

Whole grain rye and wheat in moderation

Wine (especially red wine) can aggravate symptoms

Low Nickel Diet in Dermatology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667300/

Allergy Consultants, P.A. https://goo.gl/gZ6sh3



Penn State Nickel Diet https://goo.gl/kwD33P

Sharma AD. Relationship between nickel allergy and diet. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol.
2007: 73:307-312.

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