Low Nickel Grocery Shopping Tips

Low Nickel Grocery Shopping Tips
Here’s a list of raw foods I eat that are not high in nickel with specific tips when purchasing the foods at the grocery store. The key to a more balanced diet, even on the low nickel diet, is to eat a variety of colorful foods. Feel free to take this list with you when you’re grocery shopping and/or contact me if you have any questions.

Now that you know what foods I avoid that are high in nickel, I wanted to provide some insight into the raw foods I purchase at the grocery store to eat the low nickel diet. There is a lot of conflicting data online about the low nickel diet. The low nickel diet itself has been deemed “controversial” in some circles. However I’ve personally found great relief from my eczema when I avoid foods high in nickel.

There are foods on this that I eat, which you might avoid. Always do what’s best for you. Writing about my personal experience, I haven’t had issues with any of these foods.


If you’re buying anything processed, I recommend you always read food labels and the ingredients even if you’ve purchased the product prior, as companies regularly update their recipes and ingredient lists without notice. I used to eat cheerios cereal daily for over 15 years until one day they began using oat flour. I failed to read the ingredients every time I purchased the cereal and when they added oat flour I didn’t realize the change until I had terrible eczema. Using a food journal and process of elimination I figured out the cheerios was causing my eczema. Even though reading ingredients every time on processed foods can be time consuming, before long it will become a habit and you’ll be happy you always checked.

Here’s a list of raw foods I eat that are not high in nickel with specific tips when purchasing the foods at the grocery store. Click here for PDF copy of the low nickel raw food grocery list to take with you to the store. The key to a  more balanced diet, even on the low nickel diet, is to eat a variety of colorful foods. Feel free to take this list with you when you’re grocery shopping and/or contact me if you have any questions.

Grains & Wheat

I only purchase bread at a local bakery, where they use minimal ingredients of flour, water, yeast and olive oil. I always ask them the ingredients of the bread. Often they have to print out the price tag to tell me.

– white rice
– white flour
– white bread (with no soy flour, soy lecithin or soybean oil)
– cornmeal
– barley
– rye
– pasta (that’s not whole grain, not made from quinoa, doesn’t include seed ingredients)
– popcorn

Meats (my preference is lean, organic and grass fed meat if possible)
– beef
– chicken
– turkey
– bison
– lamb
– pork
– salmon
– halibut
– cod
– scallops
– tuna (if canned, make sure there’s no vegetable broth as that usually contains soy and it’s not always disclosed)

Vegetables

Cilantro and parsley are so good for you and can help remove nickel from your body.

– bell peppers (of every color)
– beets
– sweet potatoes
– yams
– red and white potatoes
– zucchini
– spaghetti squash
– butternut squash
– acorn squash
– pumpkin
– corn
– rhubarb
– asparagus
– cucumbers
– cilantro
– parsley
– celery
– carrots
– onions
– tomatoes
– turnips
– radishes
– eggplant
– broccoli
– cauliflower
– brussel sprouts
– garlic
– mushrooms

Fruits

I crave sweet foods and fresh fruit is one of the best natural sweet treats!

– apples
– oranges
– lemons
– limes
– grapefruit
– tangerines
– clementines
– cherries
– strawberries
– blueberries
– boysenberries
– blackberries
– gooseberries
– papaya
– kiwi
– avocado
– mango
– bananas
– pears
– apricots
– nectarines
– grapes
– watermelon
– honeydew melon
– cantaloupe

Miscellaneous

I love dairy foods and don’t know of any of them being high in nickel.

– milk
– cottage cheese
– sour cream
– yogurt (with no soy)
– eggs
– cheese (make sure to still read the ingredients)
– spices and cooking seasonings (make sure to still read the ingredients)
– tea (make sure to still read the ingredients, as sometimes it can include soy or soy lecithin)
– coffee
– honey
– olive oil
– canola oil
– cornstarch
– tapioca flour
– butter (without soy and packaged in paper and not aluminum foil)
– vanilla (in small quantities)
– baking powder (in small quantities)
– baking soda (in small quantities)

Click here for PDF copy of the low nickel raw food grocery list to take with you to the store.

28 comments
  1. Christy,
    This is a great list! I love how you put to read ingredients. I know, for myself, I have to be super careful b/c my reactions go way beyond just the rash on my hand. Mine go into blisters in my digestive tract. 🙁 For me, since I also have food allergies above and beyond just the nickel, I have trouble getting my fruits and veggies in every day, so I take Juice Plus supplements since the protein structure is removed from them. I have also started to grow my own greens hydroponically. You should see my cilantro and parsley! I wish we lived closer, I would share them with you. 🙂
    Best wishes,
    Mary

    1. Mary,
      Thank you for your comment and response about reading ingredients! Blisters and digestive issues sound awful! That’s interesting about juice plus, I’m not familiar with them. It would be awesome to see your hydroponic system.
      Take care,
      Christy

  2. Hi Christy,
    Thanks for putting together this list! I also have eczema and I (and doctors) could never figure out what was the cause.. Last week I did a patch test and found out that I am allergic to nickel & chromium and now I want to try to go on a low nickel diet to try and bring down the flare-ups. I was wondering if you find any problem consuming coconuts / coconut milk / coconut oil?
    Thanks!
    – Anastasia

    1. Anastasia,
      I am so glad you found my website and that this list and other posts have been useful for you! I participate in a couple Facebook groups (one called nickel allergy and the other is called eczema caused by nickel allergy) and members often asked what others eat, so I decided to provide a comprehensive list of what I eat and look for specifically when I grocery shop.
      I don’t personally eat anything with coconut – including coconut oil or coconut milk, however I know others with a nickel food allergy that are ok. I might suggest eliminating everything and then introducing coconut in your diet to see what your reaction to it is.
      Take care,
      Christy

      1. Hi Christy,
        Thank you so much for your response!
        Since coconut in all its forms is a staple in our house, I was concerned if I have to exclude it.. I’ve started a low-nickel diet as of today! I will try to exclude everything and then reintroduce certain items, as you suggested, to see if I react. Fingers crossed…
        Cheers,
        Anastasia

  3. Hello, I was diagnosed with nickel allergy 3 weeks ago. I immediately eliminated all of my high nickel foods that very day. I have been following a plant-based diet for 3 years now…corresponded with the start of my eczema/dermatitis flares. Needless to say I have eliminated 70% of what I had been eating. Thank-you for you shopping list. I actually felt like crying the last time I was with my shopping cart as it all felt so overwhelming.
    In researching things, and discovering that the veggies get their nickel from the soil. I plan on growing a straw bale garden this year and be able to eat all of my favorites. And what timing as I only just learned about this way of gardening (with no soil) recently. That way I can grow enough to freeze through the winter too!! Everyone that I’ve mentioned the straw bale idea to is intrigued and want to try it. Instant raised beds.
    Also, I was shocked to see my Mancha tea on the list of no-no’s.

    1. Hi Lise,
      Thanks for your appreciation of my shopping list post. I totally understand how overwhelming grocery shopping can be on a normal day and then after your diagnosis.
      Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Mancha tea. Personally I still drink tea that doesn’t contain soy without issue. Do you know if the tea is derived from a plant high in nickel?
      I had never heard of straw bale gardens before your comment. I think I might try it out myself this summer! I enjoy staying in touch and would love to know how your straw bale garden experiment goes!
      Warm regards,
      Christy

    2. Thank you for the list! I strongly suggest checking the labels of multivitamins as that’s where I started having issues. Little by little my allgery got worse so now I really have to be careful what I eat. I still eat oatmeal for breakfast but switch back and forth with eggs. Staying away from nuts and chocolate is hard for me! I don’t know about anyone else, but I was told by an allergist and dermatologist that I need to do more research as there is no such thing as nickel in food! That was over 10 years ago.

      1. Hi Diane,
        Thanks for your comment and you’re welcome for the low nickel grocery shopping list. I am glad you’ve found it helpful. There are a lot of doctors that don’t know about nickel in various foods, let alone other heavy metals. Many doctors don’t actually know much about nutrition, which is why we have to be our own advocates to treat ourselves.
        Warm regards,
        Christy

  4. Hi Christy,
    Thank you very much for the list. It’s very helpful. Although, I was wondering about spices, herbs and salt? Are they okay to use? I see that Himalayan salt contains nickel but I don’t know about table salt. And are ozonated water fine to drink?

    1. Hi Luze,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation. I use herbs including salt almost daily in my cooking. Personally I haven’t noticed experiencing any skin issues when I ingest herbs or salt, but I don’t exactly know the nickel content of herbs, table salt. When I try foods I’m unsure about, I try to keep aware of any corresponding symptoms.
      Unfortunately I don’t know anything about ozonated drinking water or if the process would in someway purify the water you drink or introduce heavy metals…?
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  5. I thought all shell fish, tuna (maybe because of the can it’s in) and salmon were all high in nickel? thanks for the list though! I appreciate all of the information you share for us nickel allergy sufferers.

    1. Hi Tina,
      I am able to eat both tuna and salmon, preferably not from a can. However, I continue to eat them both from cans without issue. It might be me. I do avoid shellfish.
      Salmon wasn’t on the list of foods higher in nickel that I received. Some people with nickel allergies cannot tolerate salmon, as it’s also high in histamines and can cause eczema to flare up, mimicking a nickel reaction.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  6. Hi, Thank you so much for the grocery list.. It’s very helpful!
    Do you know if quinoa is allowed? And also Chia seeds and hemp seeds?
    What about pumpkin seeds?
    Do you know about any other “healthy” groceries?
    Thanks,
    Liat

    1. Hi Liat,
      My Low Nickel Grocery list includes a number of health foods lower in nickel. Personally I don’t eat chia and hemp seeds, as I avoid eating seeds. I have experienced a reaction when I’ve eaten chia seeds in the past, but have not tried hemp seeds. I love to eat pumpkin seeds, but they don’t love me when I eat them! I still do eat quinoa from time to time with mixed results, but I love it’s nutritional benefits and taste.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  7. Thank you so much for the list Christy! Your site is making my decent nickel allergy discovery much more bearable and easy – it truly is scary with so little information available. I do have a question for you, I saw that white bread is low-nickel according to your list so I tried to find bread tonight at the store but saw that white breads, as well as sourdoughs and jewish ryes, are made with wheat flour. I feel a little stupid trying to discern if this would make it high in nickel. Do you by chance have a post already or could briefly tell me more information about selecting bread? I feel overwhelmed when trying to read labels since nickel isn’t explicitly listed.
    Thank you!!

    1. Hi April,
      Thanks for your appreciation for my website! There is hardly any information about nickel food allergies or systemic nickel allergy syndrome. I totally relate to feeling overwhelmed and having to decipher everything yourself.
      White flour , usually also called all-purpose flour, is lower in nickel than whole wheat flour, flaxseed or buckwheat flours. I purchase my bread at the grocery store bakery. It costs more, but they use the minimal ingredients – white flour, water, olive oil and yeast. I also like to eat sourdough, as that tends to be made from white flour. I’m unsure about rye breads.
      I hope that helps. Warm regards,
      Christy

  8. Hi Christy,
    Thanks for all the great information. Like most people on this list, I am still in shock from learning that I have to give up so many healthy foods. I saw scallops on your Low-Nickel shopping list. Are they really okay to eat, unlike other shellfish?
    Thanks for any info you can give me on this!

    1. Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment. There are two different types of shellfish – crustacea (i.e. shrimp, crab and lobster) and mollusk (i.e. clams, mussels, oysters and scallops). I like to eat scallops a couple times a year and don’t seem to react to them, but I haven’t eaten shrimp since prior to my diagnoses in 2009. So much of this allergy is trial and error to find out what each of our own bodies can tolerate.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  9. Dear Christy
    Thank you so much for such an Amazing blog.
    It Really has helped many people, and as we all have Said, there is limited and mixed information on the internet and that is so confusing. Well my question is that I see you have Avocado on your list, that is OK for a low nickel diet, but I have actually been told that it is very High in nickel, samme content as almonds and oats? I guess you have no problem eating it? Also I have been taking fish Oil, very expensive and clean one, every Day, do you Think its ok og should I Take a break from it??
    Thank you
    Jacqueline

    1. Hi Jacqueline,
      Thank you for your comment and appreciation for my blog! I don’t have issues with avocados and they weren’t on the light of food high in nickel I was given. It isn’t on the Penn State low nickel diet list, however I did see it listed as high on the FDA list, beginning on page 118. I am able to tolerate avocados, though I don’t eat them daily.
      If you don’t experience a negative reaction from fish oil, it doesn’t sound like it’s contributing to your symptoms from taking it. Many parts of the low nickel diet are trial and error and individual. You could always continue to try it and identify if you have any corresponding symptoms using a food journal.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  10. After 6 months I’m still working on some foods. Your list is the first for popcorn. Just not with coconut oil, maybe.
    I recently bought a My Pillow which is shredded foam. This morning I had hives around my neck! Anyone else ever have this?

    1. Hi June,
      Thanks for your comment. Corn can be higher in nickel, but isn’t universally. I tend to eat organic corn products, including popcorn and I love it! I cannot tolerate coconut oil, which is why I’ll never consume movie theatre popcorn, as they’ll usually use coconut or soybean oil to cook the popcorn.
      I too use a pillow with shredded foam (it’s not my pillow) and haven’t had any issues. Hives on your neck would be scary! I haven’t heard anything like that. Perhaps you can return it or contact them as ask if there’s any possibility nickel or traces of nickel could be in the foam?
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  11. Christy- you are a wealth of knowledge and an incredible blessing to many…..including myself! Even as a dietitian I have a difficult time navigating through this nickel allergy maze especially since I travel so much for work. I’m thinking a recipe book is in your future. You could pave the way through uncharted waters with books & research so badly needed. If you ever need a cheerleader or some really great contacts, let me know!

    1. Hi Lauren,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website! I’m glad it’s been helpful for you to navigate the low nickel diet. I wish I knew more about nutrition. I am in the process of writing a book, but don’t always feel confident creating new recipes. It’s nice to read your kind words. Everyone needs a cheerleader now and then. Thank you.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

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