Nickel-Free Diet and Acceptable Foods

still life of dairy products
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, are low in nickel. (Image: olgakr/iStock/Getty Images)

If you have dermatitis, a chronic skin disorder that leads to rashes and inflamed or scaly skin, reducing your intake of nickel may help control the condition. It's impossible, however, to follow a completely nickel-free diet, as nickel is in most foods, and the concentration varies widely depending on the season and the metal content of the soil. Choose foods that are typically low in nickel, and avoid ones that consistently contain a high amount of nickel, such as whole grains, cocoa, soy, dried fruits, tea and chocolate. Don't attempt to self-treat dermatitis with diet alone until you've spoken to your doctor.

Stick with Refined Grains

While oatmeal, buckwheat, wheat bran and oat bran are good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals, they're also some of the richest sources of nickel, with approximately 0.5 milligrams of the mineral per kilogram. Pick enriched, refined white flour more often, and use corn flour or other whole-grain products, such as rye, in moderation, if at all. Round out your grain choices with white rice, refined corn products such as corn flakes, and regular, not whole-wheat, pasta.

Fill Up on Dairy

All plain dairy products, including butter, cheese, milk and yogurt, have a low nickel content, with less than 0.1 milligrams of nickel in every kilogram of the food. Avoid any dairy items that have oats, nuts or seeds in them, such as yogurt layered with granola, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds. All nuts and seeds are high in nickel. In addition, steer clear of chocolate milk, milk-chocolate candies or any dairy mixed with cocoa powder.

Opt for Lean Meat

Lean cuts of beef, pork and poultry are all low in nickel. Most fish is also acceptable on a low-nickel diet, but certain types, including mackerel, salmon, tuna and herring, as well as all varieties of shellfish, are typically high in the metal and should be avoided. Don't use nickel-plated or stainless-steel utensils, skillets or pots when preparing meat, particularly if a dish includes an acidic ingredient such as tomatoes or citrus juice. The nickel in the utensils, skillets and pots can leach into the foods that you are preparing.

Pick Fruits and Vegetables Carefully

Most fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are fine to eat on a low-nickel diet. Cucumber, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, squash, mushrooms, apples, pears and strawberries are good choices. When using green leafy vegetables, choose young plants and leaves whenever possible, since the nickel content increases in the leaves as the plant ages. Avoid soybeans, garbanzo beans and all fresh and dried legumes -- lentils and peas, for example -- and consume fruit other than pineapple, raspberries and figs. Don't use canned produce, since the nickel contained in the can increases the metal content of the food it contains.

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