Sulfur in foods and inorganic sulfates may aggravate ulcerative colitis, a chronic colon condition. Reducing foods that contain high amounts of sulfur can reduce inflammatory triggers in UC or other digestive disorders of the colon. Low sulfur diets typically reduce the amount of cruciferous vegetables, meats, dairy products, soda and sulfited alcoholic beverages to eliminate certain symptom-producing foods.
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Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower have high amounts of sulfur. Low sulfur choices in vegetables include fewer of the crunchy snack type of vegetables. Various types of squash such as acorn, butternut, zucchini and spaghetti squash are low in sulfur. Other winter vegetables on the low sulfur list include yams, winter squash, yellow crooked neck squash, sweet potatoes, eggplant and sweet corn.
Fruits low in sulfur-containing amino acids include raw apples, Japanese plums raw, Japanese pears, raw peaches, figs and grapefruit. Most dried fruits contain high amounts of sulfur as a preservative unless otherwise stated on the labels. To ensure the lowest sulfur levels in fruit, choose fresh raw fruits. Melons such as watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe are low sulfur options. Fruit juices that are low sulfur options include naval orange juice, tangerine and grapefruit. Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are typically low in sulfur. Coconut both fresh and dried is low in sulfur, but check the label of dried coconut since some manufacturers add sulfur to keep the coconut meat white.
Most dairy products have sulfur. Some dairy alternatives that are low in sulfur include almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk and rice milk. Soy and regular milks contain sulfur, but butter is low in sulfur because it is a fat.
Protein contains the amino acid cysteine, which contains sulfur. Most meats contain various levels of sulfur. Some meat is low in sulfur and may be an option on a low sulfur diet. Some low sulfur meat selections include beef liver, bacon, chicken liver, pork liver, turkey and game. While these are proteins, they are low sulfur food choices.
A variety of fish is low in sulfur, including smoked fish, sardines, salmon and pickled fish. Protein in fish such as tuna, mackerel and halibut are higher in sulfur. The higher the fat content of the fish, the lower the sulfur. Sea cucumber, clams and oysters are low sulfur options for seafood.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Cleveland Clinic; Diseases and Conditions; April 30, 2009
- "Nutrition Journal"; Associations Between Diet and Disease in Ulcerative Colitis Patients Using a Novel Method of Data Analysis; Elizabeth A. Magee; Feb. 10, 2005
- "Integrative Medicine"; David Rakel; 2007
- USDA: Nutrient Data Laboratory
- Argonne National Laboratory: Sulfur and Foods Resource
- "Digestive Wellness for Children: How to Strengthen the Immune System"; Elizabeth Lipski; 2006
- "Nutrition Journal"; Associations Between Diet and Disease; Elizabeth Magee; 2005