The role of salicylate (aspirin-containing) foods in hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD) in children was first put forward by Dr Ben Feingold. He claimed dramatic results from a diet free of these foods.

Feingold diet 1: Foods Containing Salicylates

All fresh meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, cereals & bread are low in salicylates.

LOW
MODERATE
HIGH
VERY HIGH
FRUIT
Golden delicious apples, banana, pears peeled, paw-paw
FRUIT
Red delicious apples, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemon, mango, passion fruit, pear with skin, persimmon, rhubarb, tamarillo, watermelon
FRUIT
Apples (Granny Smith, Gala), cherries, lychee, mandarin, peach, tangelo
FRUIT
Apricots, berry fruits, grapes, orange, plum pineapple, rock melon, All dried fruit – dates, prunes, sultanas, raisins, etc. All jams, jellies, marmalade, fruit juices
VEGETABLES
Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, brussel sprouts, cabbage (green & red), celery, chickpeas, chives,choko, kidney beans,leeks, lentils, lettuce,lima beans, peas (fresh & dried), potatopeeled, shallot, swede
VEGETABLES
Asparagus, beans green, beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, kumera, marrow, mushroom, onion, parsnip, potato unpeeled, pumpkin, sweetcorn, turnip
VEGETABLES
Alfalfa sprouts, broad beans, broccoli, cucumber, egg plant, spinach, watercress
VEGETABLES
Capsicum, courgette, gherkin, olive, radish, tomato, all tomato based foods – tomato sauce, baked beans etc.
OTHER FOODS
Garlic, parsley, soy sauce, malt vinegar, cashew nuts, poppy seeds, cocoa, carob, sugar, golden syrup, chocolate, camomile tea, dandelion coffee, tonic water, gin, vodka, whisk
OTHER FOODS
Nuts, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, beer, cider, sherry, brandy
OTHER FOODS
Honey, marmite, vegemite, coffee, wine, port, fruit teas
OTHER FOODS
Herbs & spices, white vinegar, Worcester sauce, tea, peppermint tea, rum, liqueurs

Feingold later improved the diet by eliminating food additives and colourings (the notorious yellow-orange dye tartrazine is related to salicylates). This gives better results.

FEINGOLD DIET 2: Common Dyes And Benzoates

  • E102
  • Tartrazine.
  • E107
  • Yellow 2G.
  • E110
  • Sunset Yellow – cordials, custard.
  • E123
  • Amaranth.
  • E124
  • Ponceau 4R – red berry & cherry flavours, jellies.
  • E151
  • Brilliant Black – black currant flavours, sauces.
  • E155
  • Brown HT – chocolate flavourings, sauces.
  • E210, 211, 212, 213
  • Benzoates (preservatives) – fruit juices, drinks.
  • E220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 228
  • Sulphites (preservatives and bleaches) – wines, sausages, fruit juices, flours, pickles.
  • E310, 311, 312
  • Gallates (antioxidants) – oils and fats.

Try the salicylate/colourings-free experiment on your child if you feel like it. However, I think Feingold’s approach is over-rated. Some children do improve. But many ordinary foods are capable of causing brain allergy and hence hyperactivity. It is restrictive to confine the evaluation to chemical targets only. A much sounder approach is to follow the full elimination/challenge program given earlier in this section.