Nickel is a chemical element that was discovered in the 18th century. It is a metal that is essential for the body, as it is used by cells for body maintenance. According to the Melisa Medica Foundation, up to 15% of Americans have an allergy to nickel and most of these are women. Dermatitis and eczema often result from a nickel allergy. The Foundation estimates that the average nickel intake in the United States is between 69 and 162 micrograms a day per person. The levels of nickel in foods vary depending on the soil it was grown in and the chemicals it has absorbed.
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Nuts, Seeds and Beans
Almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts and peanuts are high in nickel. Many types of seeds and beans also have high levels of nickel. These include linseed, poppy seeds, mung beans, soya beans and chickpeas. These foods contain more than 0.5 micrograms of nickel per kilogram.
Canned vegetables have particularly high levels of nickel. It is thought that the nickel in the can transfers to the food and causes the higher levels found in the vegetables. Green beans, broccoli and peas (including split peas) are also high in nickel. Pesticides used in the agricultural process increases the level of nickel found in crops that are sprayed with pesticides.
Canned fruit and dried fruit are high in nickel, containing more than 0.5 micrograms of nickel per kilogram. Raspberries and black currants have medium levels of nickel, with between 0.1 and 0.5 micrograms of nickel per kilogram. Canned fruit has higher levels because it is often prepared with stainless-steel utensils. Stainless steal is often manufactured with nickel, and during the cooking process the food reacts with it. The nickel is then transferred into the food. Lower nickel levels are found in foods that are cooked on enamel or aluminium surfaces, as these metals do not transfer into the food during the cooking process.
Chocolate and its derivatives such as cocoa power and dark chocolate have more than 0.5 micrograms of nickel per kilogram. Fish and seafood can also contain higher levels. Mussels contain high quantities of nickel, while oysters contain medium quantities (between 0.1 and 0.5 micrograms per kilogram). Porridge oats also have a high nickel content. However, organic oats have less because the grain is not exposed to agricultural chemicals which contain nickel.
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