Cinnamon and benzoate free diet

My son has been advised to follow a cinnamon and benzoate free diet. Are you able to recommend a comprehensive and current list of natural benzoate levels in food?

What levels would be classed as low and high? There is a lot of conflicting information online and I'm struggling to know what to believe but am hopeful a dietician can point me in the right direction.

13 March 2014

Sorry to hear about your difficulties. As you have found, following such a diet is tricky. If you haven’t already seen a dietician, I recommend that you ask your GP to refer you for individualised advice according to your son’s particular needs, including safe reintroduction of foods and assessing how strict his diet needs to be.

Dieticians at Kings College and Guys and St Thomas’ hospital in London have researched this diet carefully (in particular for helping the condition orofacial granulomatosis) and provide clear resources for experienced health professionals to use with clients.

Foods tend to be classified as either suitable or not suitable, but note that rich sources are cinnamon in food and benzoate preservatives in soft drinks and processed foods. Avoid cinnamon as it is not always listed on food labels, due to being used in very small amounts. Also look for the words spices, spice extracts, ground cinnamon, mixed spice, cinnamon oil, cinnamal or cinnamic aldehyde, and also avoid benzoates.

Benzoate preservatives are commonly added to fizzy drinks (a major source), and to processed foods. Benzoates include preservatives with E numbers ranging from E210 – E219. Be sure to check all food labels as benzoates may also occur naturally in certain foods e.g. tea and a number of different fruit and vegetables such as berries, dried fruit, avocado and kidney beans. Some flavourings are related to cinnamon and benzoates.

European law does not require labels to specify the name of the chemicals used but does require use of the term “flavouring”. Therefore it is best to try to avoid all products labelled with “flavourings” or “natural flavourings” and, whenever possible, keep to fresh or home cooked food. Benzoates can also be added to toiletries, cosmetics and medicines, so all such product labels should be checked.

Answered by Lyndel Costain.


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