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Histamine Intolerance Part 4. High Histamine Foods

26 August 2022

Evidence-Based ✅

  

High Histamine Foods

 

This blog is to give more clarity to those seeking a low-histamine diet, and in time, we will have a recipe book with low-histamine recipes.

 

In the blog, we chat about high histamine foods, histamine-liberating foods, DAO-blocking foods and low-histamine foods.

 

If you have HIT (histamine intolerance), this blog will be your new best friend and something you often refer back to for guidance.

 

Where is Histamine Produced?

 

Histamine is produced in the basophils, eosinophils and mast cells. These cells are located in your skin, lungs, nose, blood and gut.

 

Many factors stimulate the release of histamine in mast cells, which we will discuss in a future blog.

 

You are here today to find out what foods are high in histamine.

 

We will also discuss what foods liberate histamine*

 

*Histamine liberators are substances (found in certain foods) that trigger mast/basophil cells to release histamine. These foods are not necessarily high in histamine, but they liberate histamine.

 

Histamine liberation causes histamine intolerance for many.

 

Something else worth mentioning is foods that block the DAO enzyme (one of the enzymes that help break down histamine).

 

You may see us repeating ourselves throughout this blog. Still, we have tried to categorise things clearly so it is clear what you can eat and what you should avoid. 

 

The first list is general, which discusses high histamine foods, histamine-liberators and DAO blocking foods. We then get into all the low-histamine foods that will help guide you to the foods to shop for and consume.

 

We are putting together some recipes to help our HIT friends as I go through this journey, so I want to help others.

 

High Histamine Foods List (to avoid)

  • Aged Cheeses (goat cheese too)
  • Aged meats/other aged foods
  • Avocado
  • Citrus fruits
  • Canned meats/cured meats: canned meats (including tuna fish), bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, salami and lunch meats
  • Dried fruit: goji berries, golden berries, apricots, dates, figs, prunes, sultanas, currents, raisins etc.
  • Eggplant
  • Fermented Foods: Kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, certain probiotics*, soy sauce, kimchi, most vinegar**
  • Fermented alcohol: beer, champagne and wine 
  • Leftover foods
  • Legumes: butter beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and all other beans and pulses
  • Nuts: cashews and walnuts 
  • Processed foods: All processed foods are high in histamine because they often contain preservatives 
  • Sour Dairy: sour cream, sour milk, sour yoghurt, buttermilk
  • Smoked fish/Some fish species: anchovies, Herring, mackerel, Mahi-Mahi, sardines, smoked fish, fish sauce
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Vinegar-containing foods (olives, pickles, pickled onions etc)

 

*See our blog about Probiotics for HIT people (histamine intolerant people)

 

**White distilled vinegar, and raw apple cider vinegar are usually ok for most people

 

Histamine-Liberating Foods (to avoid)

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate and cacao (carob is safe)
  • Cow milk
  • Cashews & walnuts
  • Papaya/pawpaw
  • Pineapple
  • Preservatives and dyes 
  • Shellfish (prawns, oysters, lobster, scallops, squid, shrimp, crab)
  • Strawberries 
  • Tomatoes (they make both lists)
  • Wheat germ

 

DAO Enzyme Blocking Things (to avoid)

  • Alcohol
  • Black tea
  • Coffee
  • Green tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Mate tea

DAO is an important enzyme that helps to break down histamine in the body. If you are consuming any of the above DAO blockers, you may be causing a histamine issue for yourself.

 

Lower Histamine Foods List

Some people who have trouble with histamine intolerance have problems with certain plant toxins. We will list all the low histamine foods. Next to each food, we will add if it contains measurable levels of plant toxins.

 

Any gluten-free grains/Starches/Nuts/Tubers:

  • Almond flour (blanched without the skin) - very high oxalate
  • Amaranth – contains oxalates
  • Arrowroot Flour (same thing as tapioca flour)
  • Buckwheat – contains oxalates & lectins
  • Buckwheat Flour – contains oxalates & lectins
  • Buckwheat Noodles – contains oxalates & lectins
  • Cassava Flour - contains oxalates
  • Coconut flour
  • Coconut Meat (fresh) 
  • Corn – contains lectins and often GMOs 
  • Corn –  contains lectins and often GMOs 
  • Crackers – Gluten-free – usually contain oxalates & lectins
  • Flax Meal  
  • Flax Seeds
  • Green Banana Flour 
  • Hazelnut Flour – contains oxalates
  • Hi-Maize Resistant Starch 
  • Millet, grain soaked overnight, rinsed and boiled 
  • Millet – contains oxalates
  • Miracle noodles (made with konjac)
  • Miracle rice (made with konjac)
  • Oats– contain oxalates & lectins
  • Pasta – Gluten-free – likely contains oxalates & lectins
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes - are high in lectins & oxalates and often contain pesticides
  • Potato Starch – contains lectins
  • Quinoa– contains oxalates & lectins & saponins
  • Rice (all) - contains oxalates & lectins
  • Sorghum (all varieties) - contains oxalates
  • Swede
  • Sweet Potatoes – O (very high oxalate) 
  • Sweet Potato Starch - low oxalate
  • Sweet potato starch noodles - high oxalate
  • Tapioca Starch or Flour 
  • Teff – contains oxalates
  • Tiger Nuts 
  • Tiger Nut Flour  
  • Turnips, Greens or Root

 

 

Summary of the Safest Low Histamine Grains/nuts/starch/tubers:

  • Arrowroot/tapioca flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Coconut meat (fresh)
  • Flax Meal  
  • Flax Seeds
  • Green Banana Flour 
  • Hi-Maize Resistant Starch 
  • Miracle noodles (made with konjac)
  • Miracle rice (made with konjac)
  • Parsnips
  • Swede
  • Tiger Nuts 
  • Tiger Nut Flour  
  • Turnips, Greens or Root

 

If you don't have any issues with plant toxins, it would be ok to consume the others on the list above occasionally. I don't believe it is good for anyone to consume plant toxins in high amounts frequently.

 

Low Histamine Veggies/herbs and spices:

  • Artichokes – contain oxalates but also help reduce mast cell activation as they contain luteolin) 
  • Asparagus 
  • Basil (contains luteolin great for helping to prevent histamine symptoms as it acts as a powerful natural anti-histamine)
  • Bean Sprouts – contains lectins
  • Beetroot – (very high oxalate) 
  • Bok Choy (contains goitrogens)
  • Broccoli (contains goitrogens but also contains luteolin)
  • Broccolini (contains goitrogens but also contains luteolin)
  • Brussels Sprouts (contains goitrogens, but they also contain gut-healing L-glutamine)
  • Cabbage – Chinese (contains goitrogens but also contains luteolin)
  • Cabbage – Green and Red (contains goitrogens but also contains luteolin)
  • Cabbage – Napa (contains goitrogens but also contains luteolin)
  • Capsicums - contain lectins but are also high in quercetin 
  • Carrots  
  • Cauliflower (contains goitrogens but also contains luteolin and helps promote detoxification)
  • Celery -Contains luteolin (choose organic if possible as celery is heavily sprayed)
  • Celeriac or Celery Root 
  • Chillies - contain lectins
  • Chives  
  • Cilantro  
  • Collards (contains oxalates)
  • Corn- contains lectins and often GMOs (choose organic if possible)
  • Cucumber – contains lectins
  • Cumin* - (a natural anti-histamine and contains the antioxidant luteolin)
  • Daikon Radishes  
  • Dandelion Greens (contains oxalates)
  • Dill 
  • Fennel (contains quercetin for helping keep HI at bay)
  • Garlic 
  • Ginger 
  • Green Split Peas – contains lectins
  • Jicama 
  • Kale (all) – contains oxalates and is high in pesticides (choose organic if possible) 
  • Kohlrabi  
  • Leafy Greens (contains oxalates)
  • Leeks 
  • Lettuce (Butter)
  • Lettuce (Endive)
  • Lettuce (Leaf Green & Red)
  • Lettuce (Iceberg)
  • Lettuce (lambs)
  • Lettuce (oak)
  • Lettuce (Radicchio) – contains oxalates
  • Lettuce (Romaine)
  • Mesclun  
  • Mint  
  • Mizuna - contains oxalates
  • Mustard Greens- contains oxalates
  • Nopales Cactus – contains oxalates
  • Okra – contains oxalates
  • Onions – any  (contains luteolin)
  • Oregano (a natural anti-histamine and contains luteolin)
  • Parsley, Curly – contains oxalates
  • Parsley, Flat or Italian - contains oxalates
  • Parsley Root 
  • Parsnips  
  • Pea shoots (sprouts) - rich in DAO enzyme to help break down histamines
  • Potatoes - contains oxalates & lectins
  • Purple sweet potato (an incredibly potent anti-histamine food)
  • Radishes 
  • Rocket 
  • Rosemary - contains 2 types of luteolin
  • Rhubarb – (very high oxalate)  
  • Swede 
  • Sage 
  • Shallots 
  • Squash, Butternut – contains lectins 
  • Squash, Spaghetti – contains lectins
  • Squash, Summer – contains lectins
  • Squash, Winter – contains lectins
  • Squash, Yellow – contains lectins
  • Spring onions (green onions/scallions)
  • Sweet Potatoes – (very high oxalate) 
  • Swiss Chard – (very high oxalate) 
  • Tarragon (a natural antioxidant that stabilises mast cells and calms inflammation)
  • Thyme (contains vitamin C for DAO production and flavonoids for stabilising mast cells)
  • Turnip  
  • Watercress 
  • Yellow Split Peas – contain lectins
  • Zucchini– contains lectins and is often heavily sprayed

*Some say that cumin is a histamine-liberator but i am not so sure about this? Just see if it works for you or not.

Safest Veggies & Herbs (low in plant toxins):

  • Asparagus  
  • Basil (great for HIT people especially)
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Coriander (a wonderful chelator of mercury)
  • Daikon radish
  • Dill 
  • Fennel  
  • Garlic (a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory)
  • Ginger (a natural anti-inflammatory and mast cell stabiliser)
  • Jicama (high in vitamin C for DAO production)
  • Leeks 
  • Lettuce (Butter)
  • Lettuce (Endive)
  • Lettuce (Leaf Green & Red)
  • Lettuce (Iceberg)
  • Lettuce (lambs)
  • Lettuce (oak)
  • Lettuce (Romaine)
  • Mesclun  
  • Mint  
  • Onions – any 
  • Oregano (contains luteolin)
  • Parsley root
  • Parsnips  
  • Radishes 
  • Rocket 
  • Rosemary 
  • Sage
  • Shallots
  • Swede
  • Thyme
  • Turnip  
  • Watercress 
  • Watercress

 

Low Histamine Fruits:

 

Not all fruits are ok for all people. Please read through this list carefully and omit any that you know may cause issues (if you're sensitive to plant toxins such as oxalates, lectins, or mould).

  • Apples (choose certified organic where possible as apples are heavily sprayed)
  • Apricots (choose certified organic where possible as apples are heavily sprayed)
  • Blackberries - (contain oxalates)
  • Blueberries (choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Cherries (choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Cranberries (fresh) [choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed]
  • Dragon Fruit 
  • Figs 
  • Grapes - (often have mould, which can trigger mast cell activation syndrome and histamine release)
  • Guava – Ripe – (VERY high oxalate) 
  • Honeydew – (contain lectins)
  • Kiwi – (contain oxalates)
  • Loquat 
  • Mango (helps to fight histamines)
  • Nectarines(choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Passion Fruit 
  • Peach - (choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Pears (choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Persimmons (contain oxalates)
  • Pomegranate – (contain oxalates)
  • Raspberries (limit to 1/4 cup – not always tolerated in elimination phases possibly due to the many seeds) [Choose Organic]
  • Rockmelon (contain lectins)
  • Watermelon – (contain lectins)

 

Safest Fruits List: (for sensitive people):

  • Apples 
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries 
  • Cherries 
  • Cranberries (fresh)
  • Dragon Fruit 
  • Figs 
  • Loquats
  • Mango (helps to fight histamines)
  • Nectarines(choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Passion Fruit 
  • Peach - (choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)
  • Pears (choose certified organic where possible as blueberries are heavily sprayed)

 

High Histamine/Histamine-Liberating Fruits:

As yummy as these are, I must avoid them, at least for a while, as they are high in histamine or they liberate histamine.

  • Avocado
  • Citrus
  • Banana 
  • Dates 
  • Dried Fruit 
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms (not technically a vegetable)
  • Papaya/pawpaw
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Prunes 
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries
  • Spices (many)
  • Tomatoes

 

Low-Histamine Protein Sources (animal-based):

You may be sitting there thinking, "huh? What meat is high in histamine?"

That is understandable. 

Most meat and protein sourced from animals is low in histamine (unless it is aged, smoked, preserved or canned).

You have to be wary of some things as they either contain histamines or liberate histamine (neither of which you need if you're HIT).

 

You can be safe with any of the following:

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Lamb*
  • Pork*
  • Duck*
  • Rabbit
  • Quail

*With regards to lamb and pork, these can develop histamine quite quickly, so it's best to buy fresh and use them immediately or freeze them. It is also important to mention that anything processed (like mince) will naturally be higher in histamines. 

Some folks say that pork is histamine-liberating so see how you feel after eating it. If you are eating and drinking all low-histamine things, you will soon know what is a trigger for you.

It seems like much work initially, but like any new diet, it gets easier in time, and you adapt to the changes. It is meant to be an elimination diet and not something you stay on forever unless you need/want to.

Anything smoked, marinated, aged or tinned will also be high histamine food.

Beef is generally aged, and so it can be high in histamine. 

 

Low-Histamine Dairy (if tolerated):

  • Cream cheeses (very young and without additives)
  • Gouda in small quantities
  • Mascarpone Cheese
  • Milk (pasteurised and UHT)
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Quark
  • Ricotta Cheese

High Histamine Dairy to avoid when on Elimination Diet:

  • Hard cheeses, blue cheeses, mould cheeses and matured cheeses
  • Feta cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Processed Cheese (not advisable)
  • Sour-cream & buttermilk
  • Yoghurt (dairy and also coconut)

Eggs Yes or No?

The yolks are fine, but the white can liberate histamine

If you love the benefits of eggs, try adding a couple of yolks to your smoothie and skip the scrambled eggs for a while.

There are plenty of other low histamine breakfast options you can choose from besides bacon and eggs.

 

Low-Histamine Nuts:

(best to activate nuts and seeds except for poppy, hemp and chia)

  • Almonds (skins off)
  • Brazil nuts (limit to 2 a day)
  • *Chestnuts
  • Chia seeds (high oxalate but ok occasionally)
  • Flax seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hemp seeds
  • *Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • *Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Poppy seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

*These are the fattiest nuts on this list. Tiger nuts are also low in histamine and aren't technically a nut (despite the name). Cashew nuts are not allowed as they are high in histamine. Walnuts are out too.

 

Because nuts and seeds contain biogenic amines, they may not be tolerated by some people, so just be aware of your food triggers. Keep a food diary and write down what you ate and if you noticed any symptoms after consuming this item.

 

Low-Histamine Beverages:

  • Mineral & filtered water (never tap if you can avoid it)
  • Carob 
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Elderflower Cordial
  • Peppermint Tea
  • Rooibos Tea
  • Sage Tea
  • Turmeric & Ginger tea

High-Histamine/Histamine-Liberating or DAO Blocking Beverages:

(Best avoid)

  • All alcohol 
  • Anything with citrus 
  • Any juices or smoothies with high-histamine fruits or veggies
  • Cacao drinks
  • Coffee 
  • Chocolate milk
  • Drinks with Caffeine (cola, energy drinks etc)
  • Energy drinks
  • Green tea 
  • Kefir drinks
  • Kombucha
  • Milo or Ovaltine
  • Oat Milk
  • Rice Milk 
  • Soy Milk
  • Black tea
  • Orange Juice
  • Tomato Juice 

Best Fats to Consume and Cook with:

  • Raw organic coconut oil (cooking or smoothies)
  • Grass-fed ghee (for frying or adding hot beverages)
  • Olive oil (dressings and sauces)
  • Duck fat

Fats/oils to Avoid:

  • All vegetable oils as they are just wrong full stop (see our vegetable oil blog here)
  • Walnut oil
  • Avocado oil

 

We hope this list helps you, and we have summarised each food category, so it is less confusing.

 

If you have a histamine issue, perhaps save this blog link in your phone's notes to refer back to when you are meal planning and grocery shopping.

 

This Diet is Not Forever

 

This diet is essentially an elimination diet, and it is something you can choose to stay on indefinitely. You can do it for an elimination timeframe and then slowly reintroduce histamine foods.

 

Stay Tuned for Our Next Blog 'Histamine Intolerance Elimination Diet and Reintroducing Foods'.

 

Read Our Other Histamine Intolerance Blogs for a Better Understanding of this Complex Issue:

Stay Tuned

 

I am currently in the process of creating a Low-Histamine Recipe book so be sure to stay subscribed to our newsletter. You can sign up for this on the footer of our website.

 

References:

 

https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/hidden-in-plain-sight-histamine-problems/#gsc.tab=0

https://discover.grasslandbeef.com/blog/low-histamine-meat-and-fish/

https://mastcell360.com/low-histamine-foods-list/

https://gundrymd.com/lectin-free-resistant-starch-list/

 

 

Disclaimer: This article is strictly informational and not intended as health advice. Statements made have not been evaluated by the TGA and are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent. One should always consult with their trusted health professional before adding a new supplement to their diet.

 

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