There are two sides to the banana histamine debate, and they’re ripe and unripe. Some people report that green bananas are low histamine, while others report that every type of banana can cause histamine release and should therefore be avoided. I take a more middle-of-the-road approach.
I believe that all banana should be avoided for the first month, and then reintroduced as you’d like, as mentioned in my low histamine foods list.
Bananas are generally quite healthy, and unlike the popcorn, chips, and other low histamine snacks you may have been eating, bananas are a nutritious choice for noshing at any time of day.
But before you run out to buy a bunch, below I’ll give you the lowdown on the current research into banana and histamines’ complex relationship.
Medical Disclaimer: as with everything on this site, this article is provided for information only. I strongly urge you to speak with your doctor or a licensed medical professional in order to assess whether or not you have a Mast Cell Disorder, and what else may be contributing to your symptoms.
Bananas and Histamine Liberators
So why do bananas histamine levels get such a bad rep? It’s plastered all over the web that bananas are high histamine, and in some places they’re called ‘histamine liberators.’ But what does that mean?
For the most part it’s accepted as fact that bananas are histamine liberating foods, meaning that although they contain low levels of histamine themselves, they tend to cause the body to release histamine when consumed.
The rumor of so called ‘histamine-liberating’ foods began when a slew of studies on histamine-releasing foods were published in the 1950’s. Over the next couple decades, much more research was done into so-called histamine liberators, but the exact mechanism of this supposed response has never been found.
Instead, 3 theories have been put forth as to why so many people have a histamine reaction to bananas of all types. The most prominent such theory proposes that these foods contain some kind of enzyme which causes the substance holding histamine inside our mast cells to degrade.
This degradation is thought to allow a rush of histamine to escape when we eat it. Another theory suggested that histamine was somehow displaced by certain chemicals inside these histamine-liberating foods.
A theory similar to the first was later proposed, albeit with a Ph-dependent twist, but none of these ideas has ever been able to be proven. All this is to say that bananas may trigger a histamine response for you, so try reitroducingng them with caution.
Are Ripe Bananas Low Histamine?
Ripe bananas may be low in histamine, but may still cause a histamine release in sensitive individuals, due to unknown mechanisms of histamine liberation. Unfortunately, the riper the banana, the higher the potential histamine content, because histamine is actually formed due to the degradation of protein.
If you want to try reintroducing banana on a low histamine diet, I recommend waiting at least 6 weeks before trying a small piece of unripe banana and working your way up to ripe banana.
Are Unripe Bananas Low Histamine?
Unripe bananas may be low histamine, but for reasons unknown, they may still cause a release of histamine in sensitive populations. However, if you’re looking to reintroduce bananas after following a low histamine diet, unripe bananas are the way to go.
I recommend pairing them with a bevy of antihistamine foods and consuming immediately.
Is Green Banana Flour Low Histamine?
Green banana flour is probably low histamine, but like other banana products, it may act as a histamine liberator, and it therefore not recommended in the first month of a low histamine diet. However, because the bananas used to make the flour are unripe, they will have the lowest possible histamine levels.
When you can tolerate bananas again, green banana flour is actually a natural anti-inflammatory that’s great for the gut.
Are Plantains Low Histamine?
Plantains are low histamine, though be careful with ripeness when reintroducing. Ripe and unripe plantains— known in Latin America as maduros and verdes, respectively— will have differing histamine levels.
This is because plantains that have been sitting around to ripen have also had more exposure to histamine-producing bacteria. While plantains may look similar to bananas at first glance (and second), they’re actually a different fruit, and unripe plantains can be a safe alternative to bananas.
FAQ About Bananas & Histamine
Bananas are not directly high in histamine, but many people have reported that bananas are still a trigger for their histamine intolerance symptoms. Such a food is known as a “histamine liberator,” and should therefore be treated like a high histamine food.
Unripe bananas are lower in histamine than fully ripe bananas, so if you feel ready to reintroduce bananas after an elimination diet, then it’s advised that you start with unripe banana.
It’s possible to have unripe bananas on a low histamine diet, according to the SIGHI food list, but it’s recommended to only introduce unripe banana after a month or more of an elimination diet.
Bananas have been shown to cause histamine release in some patients, even though they do not themselves contain high amounts of histamine.
Some people have a sensitivity to histamine, known as a histamine intolerance, which means that their bodies have trouble clearing histamine effectively. Bananas have been known to cause high histamine release in some people, and one symptom of a histamine intolerance is an upset stomach.
Some very sensitive populations may experience an excess release of histamine upon eating unripe banana, but most people will tolerate unripe banana and green banana flour just fine.
Yes. Headaches and migraines can be a symptom of a histamine intolerance, a state in which the body has difficulty effectively clearing histamine. Because banana has been known to release histamine in certain populations, if you find yourself with a headache after eating a banana, it’s recommended that you talk to your doctor about a possible histamine intolerance.
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