High-Histamine Food: No or Go? Experts Have All the Answers

You might have heard of antihistamines before. They’re the antiallergens your doctor might prescribe you after an established allergic reaction. Histamines, on the other hand, are chemicals found in your body that help you get rid of an allergen, be it through swelling, an itchy rash, watery eyes, or another allergic reaction. The problem with histamine is that you can produce or intake too much of it, which would lead to a severe reaction. The second problem is that histamine is also found in food.

A wood platter of different varieties of aged cheeses

That’s why being mindful of consuming histamine-rich foods is important. Should you eat them, or should you avoid them? Fortunately for you, experts have all the answers.

What Is Histamine Intolerance?

While most people can break down the histamines they consume through food and digest them easily – there are some who find it difficult or even impossible. That occurrence is known as histamine intolerance, and people who have it should abstain from eating histamine-rich foods. The symptoms can vary, but the most common ones include stomachaches, itching, headaches, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.

Which Food Is High in Histamine?

an arrangement of processed meats and processed cheeses
To a certain extent, all foods contain histamine. Some, however, have more than others, and the amount of histamine increases over time. This means that aged cheeses, fermented food, canned fish, yeast or yeast extract, alcohol, dried fruits, and processed or smoked meats are some of the high-histamine foods of which you need to be cautious. Generally speaking, the fresher the food, the better in terms of low histamine quantities.

Amy Burkhart, M.D., R.D., is a registered physician and dietitian who has vast experience working with histamine-intolerant people. She says that genetics and underlying health conditions are some of the main factors that determine a person’s ability to break down histamine. Dr. Burkhart’s advice is to always discuss any digestive issues with your doctor so you can find what’s causing them and adjust your diet accordingly. The problem might not even be in histamine at all. So, before you start reducing the amount of histamine-rich foods in your diet, you need to consult with a medical professional.

different citrus fruits

Low-histamine foods are fresh and non-processed fruits, meats, and vegetables. The main exceptions are citrus fruits and strawberries because, surprisingly, they have high amounts of histamine!