Low Nickel Food List

Low Nickel Diet and Food List

Information courtesy of Dr. Matthew Zirwas

Background on Nickel Allergy

21871756-Symbol-for-the-chemical-element-nickel-Stock-PhotoNickel allergy (allergic contact dermatitis to nickel), has always been thought of as a rash that is isolated to the area where nickel makes contact with the skin. However, new evidence is showing that nickel, which is ingested in the diet, can cause systemic contact dermatitis (a rash other than where the nickel makes contact).

In an article published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, Drs. Matthew Zirwas and Matthew Molenda, Ohio State University examined three different cases where individuals with nickel allergy also had generalized itching especially on their hands and feet. When the individuals were placed on a low nickel diet, their nickel allergy and generalized itching cleared.

Factors other than the actual food that is eaten can affect the amount of nickel ingested:

  • The amount of nickel in the soil and water used to grow the food.
  • Processed and canned foods can add nickel via equipment used and leaching from the metallic can.
  • Tap water may contain nickel. Hot water can leach nickel from faucets into the water, as can water sitting overnight in the fixtures.
  • Cookware such as stainless steel can leach nickel into the food if cooking with acidic foods such as tomato, vinegar or lemon.

Nickel allergic individuals should consider a low nickel diet if they have either hand dermatitis or a nonspecific, pruritic dermatitis (rash that itches).

The Low Nickel Diet

We’ve outlined Dr. Zirwas’ Low Nickel Diet below.

  1. It may take up to 2 months to see the benefits from following this diet.
  2. Adults should consume no more than 15 points per day.
  3. Children under age 12 should consume no more than 10 points per day.
  4. Very rare individuals are even more sensitive than this and may need to stay under 5 points per day.
  5. In general, even if not listed specifically, avoid anything with beans, chocolate, peanuts, soy, oatmeal, whole grain, or granola.
  6. Only bottled/distilled water should be consumed, either by drinking or in cooking.
  7. Avoid cooking acidic foods in stainless steel cookware. Acidic food include tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus. Types of cookware that are safe: non-stick coated of any type, aluminum, copper, cast iron.
  8. Do not take any vitamins or supplements except for vitamin C.
  9. Take the calcium disodium EDTA with each meal for one month on, one month off. While taking it, you should also take a multivitamin with minerals once a day right before bed or first thing in the morning (the important thing is that you take it at a different time than when you take the EDTA).
  10. The Low Nickel Diet is relatively low in fiber. Patients are advised to take a stool softener such as ducosate sodium to prevent constipation.

The List

Dr. Zirwas has organized the Low Nickel Diet food list by a points system – which corresponds to the point limits mentioned above.

0 Points

  • Apple
  • Beer
  • Butter or Margarine
  • Candy, hard
  • Cheese, cheddar
  • Cheese, Swiss
  • Chicken breast, skin removed
  • Coffee creamer, non-dairy
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggplant
  • Eggs
  • Fruit drink
  • Half and half cream
  • Honey
  • Ice cream, vanilla
  • Jelly
  • Lunch meat (chicken, turkey, or ham)
  • Maple syrup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Milk, white
  • Mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Popsicle
  • Salad dressing
  • Shrimp
  • Soda / Pop / Cola
  • Sour cream
  • Soup, oriental noodles-ramen
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Steak
  • Sugar
  • Tuna, canned
  • Vegetable oil

1 Point

  • Apple juice
  • Applesauce
  • Bacon
  • Bagel, plain
  • Banana
  • Beets
  • Bologna
  • Bread, white
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cheese, American, processed
  • Chicken breast, fried with skin
  • Chicken leg, fried with skin
  • Chicken, roasted skinless
  • Chuck roast, beef
  • Coffee
  • Coffee, decaffeinated
  • Coleslaw
  • Collards
  • Cookies, sugar
  • Corn/hominy grits
  • Cornbread
  • Crackers (non-whole wheat)
  • Cranberry juice cocktail
  • Cucumber
  • English muffin, plain
  • Fruit juice blend
  • Grape juice
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Gravy, canned or bottled
  • Ham, cured, baked
  • Hot dog
  • Lamp chop
  • Lemonade
  • Liver (beef/calf)
  • Lunch meat, salami
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Macaroni salad
  • Meatloaf
  • Muffin, fruit or plain
  • Noodles, egg
  • Okra
  • Olives
  • Onion
  • Orange
  • Orange juice
  • Pickles, dill
  • Pork chop
  • Pork roast
  • Potato chips
  • Pretzels
  • Raisins
  • Rice, white
  • Sausage
  • Sherbet

3 Points

  • Asparagus
  • Beef stroganoff with noodles
  • Cereal, fruit flavored
  • Chicken nuggets, fast food
  • Chicken with vegetables in sauce
  • Doughnut
  • Meal replacement shake
  • Peach
  • Peanut butter
  • Pineapple
  • Pizza, cheese and pepperoni
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Rice, fried & meatless
  • Soup, vegetable beef, canned
  • Stew, beef & vegtable
  • Taco, tostada with beef & cheese
  • Vegetables, mixed
  • Watermelon

4 Points

  • Beef with vegetables in sauce
  • Chicken potpie, frozen
  • Clam chowder
  • French fries
  • Fruit cocktail, canned
  • Milk, chocolate
  • Peas, frozen
  • Soup, tomato, canned
  • Tomato juice

5 Points

  • Granola bar with raisins

6 Points

  • Beans, white
  • Brownie
  • Cereal, granola with raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Pineapple juice

7 Points

  • Lasagna with meat
  • Prune juice

8 Points

  • Burrito with beef, beans, cheese
  • Milk shake, chocolate

9 Points

  • Oatmeal

10 Points

  • Soup, bean, bacon, pork-canned


  • Cake, chocolate with icing

34 thoughts on “Low Nickel Food List

  1. Brenda says:

    Is rice milk ok on this diet? Bacon is listed as both a 0 and a 10? Is soy lecithin acceptable as it seems to be in everything. I don’t see potatoes on the list. We are trying anything g that works. No patch test yet because rash won’t go away. Biopsy said either metal or medications. Head to toe itchy rash. Help!

    • Sandy says:

      I will recommend to do the allergie test , I did the patch test first nothing came out , and one Allergie Dr dint want to do the allergie test coz she said that that was not my case Cox she don’t see my rashes to bad, I was not going to sufferer for to long with the rashes and itching so I was trying everything so went to another Dr and explained her what happened and she didn’t the allergie test and a lot of things came out ( I did a general test ) and I went from there ,for example u are allergic to sesame u will be allergic to Rahimi cos is a family of the sesame is something that u will need to search hard go there to the bottom of it. Good luck.

    • debra solomon says:

      Tuna in a can should be avoided – all food in cans should be avoided. And remember just because one person can eat a food doesn’t mean you can AND over time your nickel sensitivity may improve or get worse.

  2. LIS says:


  3. Brenda Price says:

    I don’t understand this:
    Do not take any vitamins or supplements except for vitamin C.
    Take the calcium disodium EDTA with each meal for one month on, one month off. While taking it, you should also take a multivitamin with minerals once a day right before bed or first thing in the morning (the important thing is that you take it at a different time than when you take the EDTA).

  4. Linda Friedman says:

    I had allergy patch testing 33x last April 28 2018. I had a 1+ nickel so he said eat what I want as there were 4+ for lidocaine glutaraldyhde ethyl acrylste fragrance mix 11. My cholesterol came back 306..ldk 192. How do I lower it with all the bad foods on nickel would lower my cholesyerol. Salmon..walnuts.oatmeal.

  5. Mercedes says:

    About 20 years ago my hands began to get itchy,the tips of my fingers would get itchy and the palms of my hands and the skin would get thick and then break open and hurt.. i couldnt figure it out neither could any dermatologist or any doctor.
    later it started on my feet and left my hands.
    i read in a book called The fat flush plan of many people being allergic to wheat and dairy.
    I figured that it was wheat gluten and avoiding it helped but didn’t stop it completely.
    The only time it cleared up completely was when had 12 weeks of chemo called Taxol.
    Now that my treatments are finished almost a year ago its all back to my hands and feet.
    After seeing an Immunologist/ allergist who said i have Dishydrotic eczema but not exactly because it doesnt start with blisters ive discovered that the allergy is more like nickel which is in everything!!!
    Especially whole grain and whole wheat breads,
    Im sharing this break through with any of you who may really wish they knew. Like I did. And the Imunologist/ allergist dint even give ma a clue , said he had none.
    Wow ! who knew.

    • Natasha says:

      Wow that is so amazing mercedes i have it on my hands and wasnt able to find out it could be nickel until most recently. Hopefully after a nickel free diet it will get better. Thank you so much for sharing your story it has really helped me.

  6. julie kingsley says:

    At the recommendation of my dermatologist I started on a Nickel Free diet in April on 2018. It is very restrictive but it has been a tremendous help. I have not had a breakout since. Eating out is a challenge, and that may cause a “hot spot” for me to be become sensitive but again, I am very careful, There are foods that I just do not eat-chocolate, dark green veggies, wheat, but not eating soy is the hardest. It is in everything processed, especially restaurant food. One day at a time and food planning is the best.

  7. Alisa says:

    I am pre diabetic and have high cholesterol and dysdriotic excess. The low nickel foods contribute r the health concerns. Food options are so limited.

    • Brenda says:

      I am also diabetic. Once I was diagnosed with nickel allergy and I started eating based off the nickel diet instead of suggested diabetic I lost 25 pounds and my sugars are more in line. Remember illness and allergies keep your sugars high so by observing your allergy diet should lower your sugars and help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. I have found I have more energy as well

  8. Danielle says:

    I’m feeling so defeated and frustrated. EVERY food list I find seems to contradict the other. For example some say mushrooms are fine while others say to avoid them completely. I really feeling like I’m at the end of my rope and don’t understand why these lists are more consistent? As someone who has been trying to figure this out for years I’m just not sure I have a lot of “throw shit at the wall until something sticks” patience left. Is there a definitive list I can start with (even if it’s extremely restrictive)? Also, I really hate the idea that the only way to relieve my symptoms is to harm animals. Is it possible to do this as a vegan?

    • Kie says:

      It is very restrictive and hard! There is a boom in individuals discovering their sensitivity and in articles or marketing around it. It is nice to see raised awareness so hopefully we can get more answers but it is also confusing as they clash. I found a website called nicklefoodallergy.com she has been dealing with her allergy for several years, she has research references, recipes, shopping lists, etc. I prefer to look for professional articles when making decisions but she’s actively doing that and she has life experience so i’ve come to trust her website as well.

      • Marion says:

        I’ve found her site very helpful as well. However, be careful with tea. I made the mistake of drinking green tea because my doctor said no black tea and it caused a big reaction. Green tea bag 237.57 & black tea bag 62.79. I think most people use tea bags & not loose tea.
        Checkout http://www.dermatitisacademy.com
        Lots of good info!

        • Karen M Harper says:

          Wow! Green tea is a shocker. But I had a horrible reaction to it a couple months ago and couldn’t figure out why. It was GI related. I had a +++ on skin patch. This opened my eyes. Thank you

    • Emerald Rios says:

      I feel the same way! I have an autoimmune disease amd have been vegan since may of 2019. I never had an issue with nickel, even a patch test showed no allergy. Until recently when I started noticing dyshidrotic eczema. The vegan diet seems to brew what caused my allergy. But the vegan diet is supposed to help with inflammation. And also there are high Histamine foods that cause an immune response and can make your allergy worse. This is the list I found the most helpful but also the most restrictive. https://therreluctanthealthnut.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html?m=1

    • Brenda says:

      Nickel levels are different in most soil depending on the time of year and location. Because of this the recommendation list vary. It’s all trial-and-error and error for each individual. One list I saw said aloe was okay for that person, I however react almost immediately to aloe.

  9. Pinky says:

    All of the nickel diet list have different foods on it its very confusing.
    Nickel allergy is nothing to mess with!
    I dont get a rash it almost killed me!
    I broke my ankle in 2 places and they placed a metal in there. I assumed it was going to be Titanium but they out a cheap one in there. I never heard of nickel allergy and didn’t know what was in mine.
    But 3 years later I cant walk ( I used to walk 8 miles a day before this ) I have heart failure kidney failure and liver failure. I am getting it out tomorrow. I just wish I could find out for sure which foods to avoid. This list is inconsistent!

    • Rebecca says:

      I’m dealing with same. Titanium tmj joints wi nickel. Been sick for years just figured out this past dec. trying to work on plan to have them and the facial screws et removed but vv expensive and then has to be replaced with something. Mine showed up pos on melisa test as I don’t respond to patch tests but have auto immune and type 4 immune issues. Oral surgeon wants me to get the ltt from orthopedic analysis but it could show a false positive for someone like me. My immunologist told me first day he saw me was prob metal and then we have the melisa to prove. My issues affect throat and upper airway as well as burning nerve pain head et, sinus issues and reactions to chemcials. Nickel diet hard bc am vegetarian.

  10. Jim says:

    There are other other better lists out there. one of them is Italian nickel diet. Just searched all the different diets and compare lists cuz they’re all over the place though there are so many foods that are on each list what are definite stay aways. I don’t know who this guy is what information he use to make his list up but it looks like it’s just a fabricated and unnecessarily difficult to follow point system that makes it necessary to have a doctor to help you work through this issue, namely him I would suppose

  11. Carol says:

    Stay away from canned food and don’t cook with stainless steel. I try to eat with plastic utensils. Now I know what I’ve been suffering with for years. Unfortunately many meds have trace of nickel in them and one that I must take daily to replace my thyroid is levothyroxine. A pharmacist told me to take the brand, Synthroid, because it’s from one manufacturer not like the generic. It’s much more expensive but less debilitating. Look up food at sneezedoctors.com

  12. Lynda says:

    Being vegan with a nickel allergy is very difficult. Juicing seems to help. I’m cutting most foods high in nickel out my diet. Then slowly introducing certain foods back. But be cautious of lotions and medicine.
    So glad I found this site. Most don’t understand the pain of this allergy.

  13. Joanna says:

    I was diagnosed eight months ago with a nickel and cobalt allergy. This is what I take daily to help with it
    1. Probiotic containing Lactobacillus Reuteri
    2. Vitamin c with almost every meal
    3. Good info here and on the site The reluctant health nut
    And also Kristina wellness.com, who is a registered nurse with the same condition, offering lots of info and resources.

  14. Marlin says:

    I got sick last December possibly Covid before it was validated. For the next 9 months I couldn’t hardly breath and was winded. I already knew I had nickel allergy. I discovered after my husband passed away 5 years ago. I quit eating chocolate and all the blisters on my hands went away. Then in September I was looking up nickel for someone else when I discovered it causes fatigue and Breathing issues. I quickly realized I was poisoning myself with my chocolate replacement. Peanut butter. I ate it every day and had no idea. Also beans and peanuts. I stopped eating many foods immediately and in 4 days I got my energy back and I can breath normal. This is no joke. I too am searching for the right list and I miss so many foods. The point system looks encouraging but scared to try it yet. I thought I was dying. I don’t want to go back to that place. I suck on vitamin C drops 4 to 6 times a day.

    • Chris Jowaisas says:

      Hi friends,

      Thanks so much for this great resource, much appreciated. I’m confused about avocados, coconuts and cabbage…. are these ok? Or are they higher in nickel generally?


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