Nickel free diet: what you should know

A list of low nickel foods and some tips for cooking

Photo of author

By Alex

nickel free diet

Nickel is a substance found pretty much everywhere, and more and more people are showing some form of intolerance to it. In addition to contact dermatitis, there is a growing number of cases of proper food intolerance. In the latter case, it is essential to know the fundamentals of a nickel free diet, to be sure about what you can bring to the table and what to avoid.

What is nickel?

Nickel is a metal found almost everywhere. It is present in the human body, where it is useful for a variety of biological processes. In addition, it is also found in soil, water and air. Consequently, it is absorbed by plants and taken up by animals. All of which, then, humans feed on. On average, the amounts of nickel found in fruits and vegetables are 4 times higher (0.5-5 micg/gr) than those found in other products, such as milk, dairy and other foods of animal origin (0.1-5 micg/gr).

It will be useful to know that nickel in foods also varies with climate and seasons. In fruits and vegetables, for example, it increases in spring and fall and then decreases in summer.

Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome (SNAS)

Nowadays, food intolerances are more and more common. In fact, many people are intolerant to substances such as lactose and gluten.

Many, then, have a nickel allergy (SNAS). These people may experience skin problems, given by contact with objects and jewelry containing this metal, as well as also various disorders caused by the ingestion of foods in which there are traces of it.

Like any type of allergy, nickel allergy is not curable, but it can (and must) be managed. In addition to antihistamines, which help alleviate typical allergic symptoms, those with this intolerance must be careful what they bring to the table. These individuals, must in fact follow a nickel free diet.

Symptoms of nickel allergy or intolerance

The disorders that nickel allergy triggers are varied and vary depending on the type of substance one has come into contact with and the stage of one’s life.

The most common symptomatology is contact dermatitis, which causes localized itching, redness, burning and flushing.

However, this intolerance can also manifest as systemic food allergy syndrome. In this case, the symptoms are more varied, and the skin manifestations are caused by the intake of certain foods, appearing at sites other than those where contact occurred.

In addition to the symptoms of contact dermatitis, seen above, other symptoms may also appear, such as:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • abdominal bloating
  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea and constipation
  • afteas
  • gingivitis
  • cystitis
  • intimate itching
  • fragility of the nails
  • fatigue and exhaustion
  • asthma

What is a nickel free diet and when is it needed?

For those suffering from nickel intolerance or SNAS, it is essential to follow a nickel free diet, a dietary regimen therefore based on the consumption of foods that do not contain this substance.

To follow this dietary regimen, it is essential to know well which foods to avoid and those that can be consumed with peace of mind.

Nickel free diet: foods allowed

A nickel free diet should not frighten those who have to follow it because, despite what you may think, it is not too restrictive. In fact, it can be good and varied.

White flour, for example, is low in nickel. Potatoes are an excellent carbohydrate to take as a substitute for bread. However, if you just can’t do without bread, and if you want to indulge in a tasty pizza every now and then, it is always good to prefer home-made products and prepared with sourdough.

Green light to eggs, meats and lean fish, the latter better if fresh and not frozen. Then there are numerous vegetables and also plenty of fruit allowed.

But let’s look at a somewhat more detailed list of the okay foods to include in a nickel-free diet.

  • meat: chicken, turkey, veal, beef, veal
  • Fish: sea bream, sea bass, grouper, mullet, hake, swordfish, perch, cod, turbot, sole, mullet, and generally all those fish that are not very large in size
  • Sliced meats: the important thing here is that there are no traces of preservatives
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Potatoes (with the skin removed)
  • Vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, squash, beets, sonnet, iceberg lettuce, escarole, curly endive
  • Condiments: extra virgin olive oil, clarified butter
  • Ginger
  • Olives: both green and black, as long as they are stored in glass jars and not in cans

Nickel free diet: forbidden foods

First, all canned foods (canned tuna, jellied meat, legumes…) and also canned drinks should be avoided.

In addition, the labels of various foods should always be read scrupulously to know their exact composition. Many industrial products, in fact, contain nickel. A classic example is sliced meats in pouches.

Let us now see below a list, as complete as possible, of foods to avoid if you are to follow a nickel-free diet.

  • Cereals: cornmeal,soybean
  • Fish: shrimp, mackerel, scampi, herring, oysters, cod, shellfish, sole, tuna, salmon
  • Meat: liver
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, broccoli
  • Fruits: pineapple, figs, raspberries, pears, blueberries, grapes, raisin
  • Oilseeds: sunflower seeds, both raw and roasted
  • Milk-based preparations for making yogurt and ice cream
  • Vegetable milk: especially oat milk
  • Blue cheese
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Licorice
  • Condiments: industrial vegetable oils, hydrogenated vegetable fats (e.g., margarine)
  • Alcohols
  • Drinks high in sugar

nickel free diet

A few examples of nickel free diet

Here is some ideas of typical meals, based on the list of allowed foods:


  • milk + dry cookies
  • toast with ham + peach + barley coffee
  • chestnut flour crepes + jam (possibly homemade) and orange juice
  • scrambled eggs + an apple + herbal tea

Lunch and dinner

  • pasta + lily chicken breast + endive
  • rice + swordfish + zucchini
  • pasta with peppers and ricotta cheese + chicory
  • fat raw ham + grilled vegetables
  • pasta with oil and parmesan cheese + sea bass + green beans
  • grouper fillet
  • pasta with veal ragout + radicchio
  • rice + grilled turkey breast and eggplant


  • Strawberries
  • Melon
  • White yogurt
  • Fish
  • Banana

Tips for cooking in a nickel free diet

In addition to knowing which foods to promote and which to flag from your table while following a nickel free diet, you should also pay attention to the cooking utensils you use.

To avoid any kind of contamination, it is important to use nickel free pots and pans. Therefore, prefer pots and pans made of glass, earthenware, wood, terracotta, aluminum and porcelain.

Which food contains the most nickel

Among cereals, the richest in nickel are oats, millet, corn, and buckwheat. Tomatoes are rich in this substance, too. Oily fish (anchovies herring and cod), as well as shellfish and crustaceans, langoustines, clams, octopus, cuttlefish and oysters contain nickel.

Can you drink coffee if you have SNAS?

Coffee contains nickel and, therefore, is not recommended.

What to eat for breakfast if you are allergic to nickel

Here are some foods allowed for breakfast: rice milk, eggs, honey, chestnut flour and agave syrup. With these ingredients you could start the day with nutritious pancakes.

Can you eat zucchini if you are allergic to nickel?

Yes! Zucchini, as well as other vegetables such as bell peppers, radicchio, cucumbers, endive, fennel and valerian are nickel-free.

What meats contain nickel

If you have problems with nickel intolerance, pork and liver should be avoided. As well as sausages that contain preservatives.

Can you eat bananas if you are allergic to nickel?

This is a fruit that should be consumed in moderation.

What water to drink for nickel allergy

To be sure to drink nickel-free water, it is recommended to drink tap water after treatment with a reverse osmosis water purifier or water softener.

Can you eat eggs if you are allergic to nickel?

Eggs can be consumed without any problem.

Can you eat rice if you are allergic to nickel?

Rice is among those cereals that are allowed.

What beverages do not contain nickel

Water, beer and carbonated beverages are not a problem as long as they are not in cans. Therefore, always prefer drinks in plastic or glass bottles.

What fish is nickel free?

Varieties of nickel-free fish include cod, grouper, mullet, bream, hake, cod, swordfish, perch, turbot, sole, mullet, sea bass, and redfish.

What vegetables are nickel free?

Nickel-free vegetables include: chard, peppers, escarole, red radicchio, eggplant, valerian, and fennel. Moderately, carrots, squash, zucchini, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower are also allowed.

Can you eat lentils if you are allergic to nickel?

Legumes are a high source of nickel and, as such, should be avoided in a nickel-free diet. Therefore, lentils, peas and so on… They should be all banned.

What fruits contain the most nickel

Pears, figs and kiwis are the fruits with the highest concentrations of nickel.

Can you drink milk if you are allergic to nickel?

Yes. Milk and yogurt are among those foods that are low in nickel.

Why do you get fat with nickel allergy?

It’s not entirely accurate. It’s not about gaining weight, but about swelling caused by inflammation of the mucous membranes that causes water retention.

Can you eat shrimp if you are allergic to nickel?

With nickel allergy, shellfish and crustaceans, such as shrimp, clams, cuttlefish, octopus and scampi, are to be avoided at all costs.

What chocolate does not contain nickel

White chocolate is recommended here, because it does not contain cocoa, and therefore is low in nickel.

Which spices do not contain nickel

Those who like to flavor dishes with spices can use sage, thyme, rosemary, ginger, chili, mint, paprika, and turmeric.

How much nickel do eggs contain?

There is no nickel in eggs.

Bonus tips

You might also like: