Following a low histamine diet? Here’s your food list!
Following a low-histamine diet can be challenging, especially if you are just getting started. You have likely searched the internet high and low trying to figure out what histamines are, what foods they are found in, and foods you can actually eat. This blog post simplifies things for you, providing a quick refresher on histamines and then jumping into foods to focus on, foods to limit, and perhaps one of the most overlooked yet important factors – food quality and freshness!
REFRESHER ON HISTAMINES
Histamine’s role in the body is to cause an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a red flag in your immune system, notifying your body of any potential attackers (think: pathogens, allergens, and toxins). Histamine travels throughout the bloodstream, affecting your whole body (think: gut, lungs, skin, brain, heart, etc.).
In normal circumstances, enzymes break down histamine so that histamine levels stay balanced. However, sometimes histamines are not broken down adequately, resulting in histamines building up, leading to histamine intolerance. Undesirable symptoms may arise when this happens, and a low-histamine diet is often recommended as part of the healing process.
FOODS TO FOCUS ON
Figuring out which foods are low histamine vs. high histamine can get tricky as a good handful of “healthy” foods actually contain higher amounts of histamines and/or may trigger histamine release. Below you will find a list of low histamine foods broken down by category.
Apples, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Grapes, Guavas, Kiwis, Honeydew, Mangoes, Passion Fruit, Pears, Persimmons, Raspberries, Watermelon
Non-starchy: Asparagus, Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Escarole, Fennel, Green Beans, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Onions, Okra, Onion, Peppers, Pickles, Radishes, Seaweed, Shallots, Summer Squash
Snow Peas, Zucchini
Complex Carbohydrates: Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Parsnips, Sweet Potato, Yams
Beans and Legumes: Black Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Navy Beans, Peas, Pinto Beans
Grains: Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Peas, Oats, Quinoa
Nuts: Almonds, Brazil, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Pecans
Seeds: Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hazelnuts, Hemp Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds
Oils: Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, MCT Oil
Other healthy fats: Coconut flakes, Coconut Milk, Grass-fed butter
Fish (choose wild-caught): Branzino, Cod, Flounder, Halibut, Oyster, Salmon, Sea bass (not Chilean), Scallops, Sole, Snapper, Trout
Meat and Poultry (choose grass-fed and organic): Bison, Chicken, Duck, Ground Beef, Steak, Lamb, Rabbit, Steak, Turkey
Eggs (choose pasture raised)
Spices and Herbs (fresh is always better, when possible!): Allspice, Basil, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Celery Seed, Cilantro, Coconut Aminos, Cinnamon, Chive, Cumin, Curry, Dill, Fresh Ginger, Garlic, Mint, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Turmeric, Sage, Salsa, Sea Salt
FOODS TO LIMIT
Unfortunately, histamines are rich in a bunch of foods. However, the good news is if you are experiencing histamine intolerance, you will not have to avoid high histamine foods forever – it’s just a temporary part of the healing process!
High histamine foods:
- Fermented alcoholic beverages ( like wine, champagne, and beer)
- Fermented foods (sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha)
- Vinegar-containing foods (pickles, mayonnaise, olives)
- Cured meats (bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats, and hot dogs)
- Soured foods (sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread)
- Dried fruit (apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins)
- Most citrus fruits
- Aged cheese (including goat cheese)
- Nuts (walnuts, cashews, and peanuts)
- Vegetables (avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes)
- Smoked fish and certain species of fish (mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines)
Additionally, there are specific foods that are known to trigger histamine release into the body, and they include:
- Alcohol, Bananas, Chocolate, Cow’s Milk, Nuts, Papaya, Pineapple, Shellfish, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Wheat Germ, Many artificial preservatives and dyes
While these lists are comprehensive, it would be nearly impossible to include every food! Therefore, if you are unsure if a food is low-histamine, feel free to reach out!
As a reminder, this diet is not a long-term solution but a tool as part of the healing process. Additionally, remember to tune in and eat what feels good in your body! Even if a food is low in histamine doesn’t necessarily mean your body loves it!
Lastly, I highly recommend working with someone to navigate a low-histamine diet and healing from histamine intolerance, as it is a bit of a longer process and takes the expertise of a professional.
WHY QUALITY AND FRESHNESS MATTERS
You may have noticed that the lists above recommend organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, pasture-raised, and fresh foods whenever possible, and there’s a reason for this! Not only are these foods higher in omega 3’s (great for fighting inflammation) and more nutrient-dense, but the quality of food these animals are fed is significantly higher and without hormones and antibiotics. Not to mention, these animals likely have a higher quality of life and are treated with more humane practices resulting in less stress and, therefore, less histamine release!
Additionally, notice how many of the high-histamine foods are packaged and processed, consequently increasing the amount of histamines. Therefore, when cutting back on high histamine foods, the fresher, the better (hint: this goes with leftovers and meal-prepping too)!
We understand that no one is perfect, and accessing and affording these foods can be difficult. In this case, we recommend opting for frozen food to maintain its freshness and have lower histamine build-up than foods that are sitting out. Plus, they tend to be cheaper than the fresh alternatives! Lastly, a kind reminder to just do your best – no one is perfect!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Eating a low-histamine diet can feel restrictive, but look at this as an opportunity to start incorporating more foods you otherwise wouldn’t have into your diet! Additionally, eating this way will likely increase the quality of foods in your diet, providing you with more nutrients and hopefully leaving you feeling better!
Not sure where to go from here? Check out this blog post on some of our favorite low-histamine recipes. Need some more ideas? Check out this sample two-day low-histamine eating plan.