Have you heard of sulfites? Sulfites are preservatives used in foods and drugs. They can cause severe allergic reactions in susceptible individuals and have been known to make asthma symptoms worse. Not everyone will react the same to sulfite-containing foods, but it’s worth tracking your reaction and avoiding them if necessary. We’ve compiled a list of foods to look out for below:

01 Dried fruit – Raisins, pineapple, apricots, cherries, and apricots all sound nutritious, but the sulfites in these foods can cause problems for people with asthma. When reading the food label look for words like potassium bisulfite and sodium sulfite.

02 Wine or beer – If you have symptoms such as coughing or wheezing after drinking these you will want to avoid them. The cause again is the sulfites.  Some research shows that histamines in wine can also cause symptoms such as watery eyes, wheezing and sneezing.

03 Shrimp – Both frozen or prepared shrimp can be risky for asthmatics. Again the issue is sulfites. If eating out, be sure to tell your waiter that you do not eat shrimp so you don’t accidentally eat something that’s been cooked in a broth that has been made with shrimp or other shellfish.

04 Pickles – Again, those pesky sulfites! Others to be aware of are fermented foods such as sauerkraut and relishes, horseradish sauce and even salad dressings.

05 Packaged or prepared potatoes – Be sure to read the label and look for the words sodium Bisulfite or any other ingredients that contain sulfite in the word. There’s an easy fix for this one: try cooking a baked potato (or better yet, a sweet potato) in the oven!

06 Maraschino cherries – Anyone with asthma who is sensitive to sulfites should also avoid these pretty red cherries. Canned fruits and bottled fruit juices, especially lemon and lime juice, may also contain preservatives that could trigger asthma symptoms.

07 Know your allergies, and how to avoid them  – You are probably already being careful not to eat what you know you are allergic to.  You also want to be careful that whatever you eat has not been cross-contaminated with the foods you are allergic to.


Talk to your Health Advisor if you have any questions. We’re here to help!