Meal Plan for Benzoate Free Diet

Benzoic acid and its derivatives are permitted food preservatives, added to protect against harmful bacteria which can cause food poisoning and spoilage. Benzoates also increase the storage life of foods as they are anti-fungal too. They also occur naturally in some foods. They have been linked to some modern food intolerances including hyperactivity in children. Excessive use has also been linked to some neurological conditions.

Check ingredient lists for the following and their common uses in foods are listed underneath:

  • E210 - Benzoic acid
  • E211 – Sodium benzoate
  • E212 – Potassium benzoate
  • E213 – Calcium benzoate
  • E214 – Benzoate derivative
  • E215 – Benzoate derivative
  • E216 - Benzoate derivative
  • E217 – Benzoate derivative
  • E218 – Benzoate derivative
  • E219 – Benzoate derivative

Natural Sources of benzoates

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Navel oranges
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Strawberries
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried fruit
  • Pumpkin
  • Avocado
  • Dark green veg including spinach, rocket
  • Tomatoes
  • Cloves, sage, nutmeg & allspice
  • Aloe vera
  • Any product made from the above

Benzoates are only effective in acidic environments, therefore are only of any use when added to acid foods. Therefore, as well as checking ingredients lists for the above, the following foods commonly contain sources of benzoates so should be checked:

  • Fruit squash and fizzy drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Beer
  • Fruit jams, preserves, marmalade
  • Fruit pie fillings
  • Pickles and sauces
  • Fruit or flavoured yoghurt
  • Marinated fish, e.g. herring, mackerel
  • Vinegar and pickles
  • Chinese food sauces
  • Sausages
  • Prawns and some other shellfish
  • Blue cheese; gorgonzola
  • Cocoa; hot chocolate

Not all of the above will contain benzoates, but definitely check these foods; indeed, due to consumer pressure, they are being used less. Look out for products that state they are 'free from preservatives', but if in doubt, avoid.

Adhering to a healthy diet, avoiding processed and manufactured foods is the simplest way to avoid benzoate additives. The following example meal plan has been designed to eliminate benzoates and other artificial preservatives from their diet. It's based on an average weight individual with a sedentary job for weight maintenance. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary your food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day.

High fibre cereal (like Weetabix, bran flakes, Shreddies, muesli (check ingredients!), porridge, etc) + 200ml skimmed milk + 1 tsp sugar
No Allergy Fruit Smoothie
2 oatcakes
Drink water
Sandwich: 2 slices granary bread + butter + slice off bone chicken or salmon
Mixed salad (avoiding veg noted above) inc tbsp sunflower seeds
Low fat natural yoghurt + pineapple chunks
Drink water
Handful mixed nuts
Drink water
Evening Meal
Large chicken breast or fillet white fish or lean red meat
Basmati rice or pasta or potatoes / sweet potatoes
Loads of veg or large salad
Drink water
2-3 oatcakes or rye crispbread with cottage cheese
Item fruit
Drink water
Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.