Salicylates are an example of natural chemicals varying greatly in plants. Over time many researchers have analysed natural salicylates as that information may be helpful not just for food sensitive people. The natural salicylates are similar to aspirin so researchers hoped to find amounts that meant that people would not need to take aspirin. In 2011 one group collected all the different results from all researchers worldwide and showed the really wide ranges of salicylate in foods.

The publication is:-  A systematic review of salicylates in foods: Estimated daily intake of a Scottish population. Adrian Wood et al Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 55, S7-S14.

The range of values reported is surprisingly very great. One day you could be eating an orange that has a salicylate value of 0.02mgm/kgm and on another day the orange you eat could be 23.90! It is very difficult to make useful tables from their findings. Median values are given as well as the range, and the range in some is very, very wide. Here are some examples of median and range values provided – values are mg/kg

Pears 1.46 range of 0.2 – 2.7  This is a big range  from 3 analyses

Apples 0.55 range of 0.02 – 5.9 from 5 analyses

These values are in the unexpected direction with pears always presumed very much lower.

Tomatoes  0.36 range of 0.05 – 1.3 from 5 analyses

This result where tomato is much lower than apples and pears was unexpected

The results showed herbs and spices median values very high with the range very very high.

Paprika 28 range of 2.98 – 2000 !!

The review shows that one phenolic compound, salicylate, can vary greatly. How can we help patients? Practical advice is provided in my book  Are You Food Sensitive? As well, most food sensitive people have a good, even very good, sense of smell and taste. Salicylate content is reported to match increase in acidity, and amount of bitter flavours. If a fruit or vegetable or a meal tastes “strong or wrong” to them, then it is probably high is some food chemical they would be better minimising. If we are wine buffs we just know that the flavour matters. If we are not wine buffs we may think the wine lovers rather overemphasize the whole idea! Does flavour matter as much where other foods are concerned?

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