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  • Writer's picturefranceswalker@thefoodinto

Which Sugars Are Low In Salicylates?

Updated: Apr 8

Some sugars are high in salicylates and some low- which sugars are low in salicylates depends on the level of processing.

JOIN THE COMMUNITY: BRAND NEW Dietitian led Facebook group: Amines, Salicylates and Glutamates: The Food Intolerance Dietitian for great information and community support.

Sugar starts off in life as sugar cane which is naturally high in salicylates and refining will reduce the salicylate level until it becomes low enough to be included in a low salicylate elimination diet.

Sugar starts off its journey as cane sugar. You can buy cane sugar and as you would expect this type of sugar is minimally processed. It has a slightly larger grain and a darker colour, and will contain the highest level of salicylates.


Sugar cane has not been tested by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Allergy Group but the more processed raw sugar has been tested and contains high levels of salicylates.

Other minimally processed sugars include: Demerara sugar, Turbinado and rapadura. Rapadura is the pure juice extracted from the sugar cane (using a press), which is then cooked to evaporate off the water then ground to produce a grainy sugar.

Muscovado sugar is another variety of unrefined cane sugar in which the molasses isn't removed, giving it a light or rich brown colour.


Organic sugar is likely to be similar to raw sugar in that it will be less processed than white or brown sugar so will have higher levels of salicylates. Although organic sugar has not been tested for salicylate content.


White sugar is also called table sugar and is the final product in the processing of sugarcane. This process removes moisture, minerals and compounds that give sugars their colour. The part that is removed during sugar refining is called "molasses".

This level of processing means the salicylates are considerably reduced. White sugar is classified low in salicylates by the RPAH Allergy Unit group.

Brown sugar is really just white sugar with small amounts of molasses added back in. As molasses contains salicylates, brown sugar has slightly more salicylates than white sugar but is still classified as low in salicylates by RPAH. Brown sugar has a delicate caramel flavour. Use it for making any baked goods, as well as in savoury dishes.

Dark brown sugar, on the other hand, has more molasses added back in it which gives it a stronger, more intense flavour. It is not considered low in salicylates due to the higher level of molasses.


  • White sugar= table sugar (low FODMAPs)

  • Castor sugar= superfine granulated white sugar (low FODMAP). Being fine means they dissolve much more quickly than white sugar, which makes it ideal for making meringues, syrups, and cocktails.

  • Icing or confectioners' sugar= white sugar that has been ground into a fine powder (low FODMAP). Easily dissolves in liquid, and is ideal for making icing. Pure icing sugar is pure sugar while the alternative often will have corn starch blended in to prevent clumping.

Other sweeteners considered low in salicylates are pure maple syrup (not the artificially flavoured, golden syrup, rice syrup and liquid glucose. Liquid glucose has sulphites (often listed) but will boil off if cooked for long enough leaving only a minimal residue (only the super responders will find these levels an issue).

All low FODMAP except for golden syrup which is lofo in limited amounts.

Artificial sweeteners need to be avoided as part of the RPAH elimination diet along with honey, molasses, raw sugar and treacle.


The RPAH Elimination Diet handbook, available from the RPAH hospital (order online: but need to be under the guidance of a Dietitian or GP) or from my clinic (Dietitian specialising in food intolerances will usually have these handbooks available) lists foods low, moderate, high and very high in salicylates.



  1. A Complete Visual Guide to 11 Different Kinds of Sugar. Keli Foster, 8/12/2014. Accessed 28/07/18.

  2. White, brown, raw, honey: which type of sugar is best? Sze-Yen Tan. The Conversation, updated 7/03/2018. Accessed 29/07/18.

  3. RPAH elimination diet handbook: with food and shopping guide. Anne Swain, Velencia Soutter, Robert Loblay, 2011 (revised edition).

  4. Monash University low FODMAP app. Version 2.0.12. Accessed 28/07/2018.


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