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High & Low Histamine Foods List

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.

So many people have asked me for the specific low histamine foods list that I follow, and I’ve always sent over Beth O’Hara’s MastCell360 List. It’s an amazing primer on histamine intolerance, and a true gem of a resource that I’d encourage you all to bookmark— she even notes which ingredients should always be bought organic and which ones are high in oxalates and/or lectins. The other most popular resource is the SIGHI list, though it seems to be better-known in Europe.

The thing that I always felt was missing from those lists was a glossary of all the terms, and an earlier transition period. Dr. O’Hara recommends a 6-month elimination phase, and while that’s great if you have that sort of willpower, by the time I’d hit rock bottom, only the severe stomach pain from most foods was actually stopping me from pleasure-seeking with chocolate and coffee. I needed to know what to reintroduce first, and while that also came with a discussion with my doctor, it truly began once I dug in and did my own research. To jump to a specific section of the list, simply use the Table of Contents below.

I know there are some courses out there, and it’s very tempting to try and throw money at the problem— assuming you have the money— but the best way to take back control over your health is to understand what’s going on with you. I haven’t taken any of the courses on offer, and surely there are a couple with really excellent primers on histamine intolerance, but there’s really no magic pill to cure it. Most doctors you see won’t have even heard of it. I learned that the hard way, but even in starting this site I’ve connected with a lot of people who even reacted to foods on the “low histamine” side.

Food has always fascinated me, and even when it started to scare me, I just wanted to understand what was happening to me. So a lot of my interest over the last couple years has shifted towards understanding why certain people react to one food and other people don’t. This curiosity has resulted in dozens of hours spent down the scientific rabbit hole reading publications from allergy & gut experts, books on mood and epigenetics, and hundreds of studies on PubMed. This study from 2021 actually does a great job at summarizing the inherent contradictions in even putting together a foods list like this, and I encourage each of you to read it before going nay further.

I have a good friend who has, for years, reacted to everything under the sun at one point or another. She’s learned what works for her when she’s triggered, and to switch up her foods every few months. For the first few years, she used a lot of the recipes on Beth’s site, and some of them she still does. But our friendship has illustrated to me how incredibly different every body reacts, and I really want to hammer that home.

That said, there are a few simple things you can do to make the transition easier and healthier:

  • Buy organic foods whenever possible, especially in the first few weeks, to rule out pesticides and other residue as causing reactions
  • Freeze leftovers within an hour or two of preparing
  • Avoid pre-packaged or processed anything
  • Keep a food diary & track all your symptoms (including time of day)
  • Look out for truly low histamine recipes you can follow for the first month

If you don’t see a food in the category you’d expect, please check the “Miscellaneous” section, which seems to just keep growing. But enough preamble if you’re just here for the food! Following food pyramid structure, these are the low, medium, and high histamine foods you should keep in mind when meal planning. For your first 10 days or so, I highly recommend reading through and following this very conservative 5-day low histamine meal plan.

Grains, Cereals, and Starches (Carbs)

If I included every individual product, this may well have been the largest section in this entire list, as it encompasses the many varied carbs which form the base of the food pyramid. Unless otherwise specified, the starch, flour, noodle, and other forms of consuming each food item also contain the same level of histamine, though processing can speed up the formation of histamine.

Grains and other cereals can also be a source of great gastric distress for some, as many of them are also rich in oxalates, lectin, and/or salicylates, each of which I break down in this post. Be sure to check the “nuts & seeds” section for some more common gluten-free flours/substitutes.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Amaranth
Arrowroot (flour)
Buckwheat
Cassava (flour)
Millet
Oats (gluten-free)
Quinoa
Rice (white, brown, sweet, etc.)
Sorghum
Sweet potato (flour)
Tapioca (flour)
Tiger nut (flour)

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Potato (starch, flour)
Corn (flour, meal)

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Bleached or enriched flours
Cocoa powder
Frozen meals (contain preservatives)
Gluten-containing foods (like seitan)
Gluten-free breads (usually contain yeast & other iffy ingredients)
Pie crusts (commercial)
Prepackaged dessert mixes
Wheat (includes spelt and other types of wheat)


Vegetables

This will always be the largest category on any low histamine foods list, because most vegetables are naturally low in histamine. If I were to write out each individual vegetable, the list would be infinitely longer, so if you want to double check a food you haven’t already tried, be sure to think about whether it’s a type of lettuce or green or onion that may fall into a type written elsewhere on the list. Otherwise, feel free to drop a comment with a question and I’ll get back to you ASAP. You’ll note that soy and tomatoes appear in multiple areas of the list, but this is due to their flexible roles in the kitchen.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Artichokes
Arugula
Asparagus
Bean sprouts (preferably grown at home)
Beets
Bok choy
Broccoli (& broccolini)
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chives
Corn (Sweet)
Cucumber
Escarole
Fennel Leaves
Garlic
Ginger
Greens (Collards, Dandelion, Mustard, etc.)
Kale
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Lettuces (all)
Okra
Onions
Parsley
Parsnips
Peppers (Bell)
Perilla Leaves
Purslane
Potatoes
Radishes
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Scallions (Green Onions)
Shallots
Squash (anything other than pumpkin)
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Watercress
Yuca (Cassava)
Zucchini

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Hot peppers (jalapeños, habaneros, etc.)
Green Beans (string beans)
Mushrooms
Peas

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Anything fermented or preserved at above-freezing temps (such as sauerkraut or kimchi)
Eggplant
Pumpkin
Spinach
Soybeans (incl. edamame)
Tomatoes


Fruits

You’ll notice that the list of low histamine fruits is nearly as long a list as the list of high histamine fruits. This is because fruits tend to ripen or rot much more quickly than vegetables. Therefore, even though the protein content is often comparable, more fruits are liable to be high in histamine or even histamine liberators than are vegetables. On the other hand, many are “evened out” by potent levels of mast cell-stabilizing substances, making them natural antihistamines themselves.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Apples
Apricots
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cantaloupe
Cherries
Coconut (fresh)
Cranberries (fresh)
Currants (fresh)
Dragon Fruit
Honeydew melon
Kiwis
Loquats
Mangoes
Nectarines
Passion Fruit
Peaches
Pears
Persimmons
Pomegranate
Raspberries

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Dates
Figs (fresh)
Fresh or freshly-frozen homemade jams, jellies, and juices (made with low histamine fruits)
Grapes
Guava
Olives (fresh)
Lemon (& juice)
Lime (& juice)
Plantains
Watermelon

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Any very ripe fruits
Avocadoes
Bananas
Commercially-made jams, jellies, juices, or preserves
Cranberry sauce (commercial)
Dried fruits (except dates)
Grapefruit
Loganberries
Olives (preserved)
Orange (& most any other citrus)
Papaya
Pawpaw
Pineapple
Plums
Prunes
Raisins
Strawberries
Tomatoes


Dairy & Dairy Substitutes

Dairy is not for everyone, by any means. There’s a lot to be said about modern dairy farming, and maybe I’ll write about it one day, but suffice it to say that there have been a lot of changes in the industry over the last fifty years, few of them good. Many people cannot tolerate dairy for any number of reasons, so my general recommendation is to cut out everything but organic ghee (clarified butter) for at least the first 4 weeks.

European regulations are different from those in the US, requiring different & overall less processing, so if you’re in Europe you may not need to wait as long to reintroduce dairy. Note that plain milk is usually the toughest on your stomach, so it’s in the moderate histamine group.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Ghee (organic, preferable grass-fed)
Homemade non-dairy milks (made with low histamine ingredients)

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Butter (grass-fed when possible)
Cream
Fresh cheeses without preservatives (mozzarella, cheese curds, cottage cheese, mascarpone, ricotta, etc.)
Store-bought non-dairy milks (made with low histamine ingredients)

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Hard cheeses (basically anything aged, such as parmesan or gouda)
Kefir & other culture dairy
Preserved cheeses (like in brine, such as feta or halloumi)
Preserved creams (i.e. clotted cream or anything with preservatives)
Raw milk
Sour creams (crème fraîche, cream cheese, etc.)
Whey
Yogurts (commercial)


Meats, Eggs, and Plant-Based Proteins

Protein can feel complicated on a low histamine diet. This is because many sources of protein are treated in a way that leaves them higher in histamine, and even processed in a way that speeds up histamine formation. Therefore during the first few weeks of eating low histamine, try sticking to freshly-butchered meats that haven’t been aged, and either use or freeze them within 2 hours of buying them.

If you don’t eat meat, rice protein and hemp protein are two safe sources of low histamine protein, but note that neither of them is a complete protein. Please do wait a couple of weeks before trying to reintroduce eggs, as some people don’t do well with them.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Brown rice protein powder
Chicken
Duck
Eggs (preferably cage-free, pasture-raised)
Hemp protein powder
Goose
Lamb
Ostrich
Pork
Quail
Rabbit
Turkey

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Beef (unaged & unground– most all red meat is aged before selling)
Bison (unaged & unground– most all red meat is aged before selling)
Collagen powder
Ground meats (ground at home)
Salmon (fresh-caught & flash-frozen)

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Aged meats (anything which has been preserved in any way: canned, dried, smoked, etc.)
Cured meats (bacon, deli ham, hot dogs, pepperoni, etc.)
Fish – All other
Impossible Burgers & Beyond Meat (largely fillers of unknown origins)
Ground Meats
Leftover cooked meats
Protein powders (commercial)
Processed meats
Seitan
Shellfish
Soy-based foods (like tofu or tempeh)
Uncooked Egg Whites


Fats & Oils

While many foods naturally contain some amount of fat, often when cooking or baking we also need to be able to add oil or some other fat to a dish. For those cases, the best low histamine oils are listed below— with some caveats. Many oils are prone to rancidity and should be stored in the fridge, particularly those which are liquid at room temperature (such as seed- or nut-derived oils).

Personally, I usually cook with pork fat that I keep in ice cubes in the freezer. Most plain, fresh-pressed organic oils are low histamine, but aside from inherent histamine content, it’s important to consider other inflammatory aspects of the oils. For example, oils high in polyunsaturated fats, such as canola or sunflower, are more prone to going bad (without necessarily changing appearance).

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Almond oil
Animal fats kept in freezer (chicken fat, lard, tallow, etc.)
Butter (grass-fed)
Cocoa butter (can also be used to cook at high temperatures)
Coconut oil (organic extra virgin)
Flax oil (organic cold-pressed)
Ghee (grass-fed)
Macadamia Oil (organic cold-pressed)
Olive oil (organic extra virgin)
Palm oil (organic extra virgin)
Rice bran oil
Sesame oil

Moderate Histamine or Potentially Inflammatory- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Avocado oil (cold-pressed)
Grapeseed oil (cold-pressed)
Sunflower oil (cold-pressed)
Walnut oil (cold-pressed)

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Canola oil
Corn oil (inflammatory)
Fats or oils with added color, flavor, and/or preservatives
Hydrogenated & partially-hydrogenated oils
Margarine & other butter substitutes (like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
Reddy Whip (& other oil-based whip toppings)
Palm oil (refined)
Peanut oil
Safflower Oil
Shortening (hydrogenated oils)
Soybean oil


Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

I’ve written more extensively about low histamine nuts & seeds, but the information therein also applies to legumes. To summarize, they tend to contain several chemicals which many histamine intolerant folks have trouble with, namely lectins, oxalates, salicylates, phytic acid, and digestion-lowering enzymes. It’s for this reason that I don’t recommend consuming any of them during your first week or two on a low histamine/elimination diet.

Though if they don’t cause you problems once you reintroduce them, they’re a versatile & healthy addition to your diet. Canned anything tends to build up histamine, so buy dried beans and legumes, and soak them overnight before cooking them yourself. If you don’t want to use them in a recipe right away, they can always be frozen and thawed when you’re ready.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Almonds
Beans (all types except red beans, dried & overnight soaked)
Brazil nuts (max 3-4/day due to high selenium)
Chestnuts
Chia seeds
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Coconut (fresh, flour, or milk without preservatives)
Flax seeds
Hazelnuts
Hemp seeds
Lentils (all types, dried & overnight soaked)
Macadamia nuts
Pecans
Pine nuts
Pistachios
Poppy seeds
Pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas)
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Cashews
Coconut (dried)
Coconut butter/manna
ANY nuts or seeds which were packed more than 6 months ago

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Canned or pre-packaged anything (beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.)
Peanuts
Red Beans (canned or dry)
Soybeans (incl. edamame)
Tofu
Walnuts


Herbs, Spices, and Flavorings

Most herbs and spices are naturally low histamine, and many are even actively antihistamine, whether used dried or fresh. Mainly off the table are spices in the pepper family, but once you have more room in your histamine bucket, most people can handle the small amount of spice that would be used for flavoring. The most harmful ingredients are those derived from over-processed ingredients which are deemed edible, but which have zero nutritional value.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Basil (esp. Holy Basil)
Bay Leaves
Black Cumin (nigella sativa)
Cardamom
Caraway
Cilantro
Coriander
Cumin
Curry Leaves (dried, fresh)
Dill
Fennel Seed
Garlic
Ginger
Lemongrass
Mint (Spearmint, Peppermint)
Oregano
Parsley
Rosemary
Saffron
Sage
Salt (non-iodized)
Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric (Curcumin)

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Allspice
Cinnamon
Mustard (powder)
Paprika (sweet)
Peppercorns (ground pepper)

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Anise
Chili Powder
Cloves
Curry powder
Cayenne
Foods labeled “with spices”
Foods labeled “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors”
Mace
MSG (a.k.a. monosodium glutamate or yeast extract)
Nutmeg
Paprika (hot or smoked)
Seasoning packets (usually contain MSG & other high histamine foods)


Sweeteners

Because sugar is inflammatory, there are very few truly low histamine sweeteners. The safest options are monk fruit, stevia, and allulose, but the latter can sometimes cause stomach upset, and none of these can serve as a 1-to-1 replacement for refined sugar. The longer you can stay away from or limit sugar intake, the easier your stomach will be able to focus resources on clearing inflammatory histamine.

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Coconut Sugar
Homemade Desserts (made with low histamine ingredients)
Inulin
Maple Syrup
Pure Monk Fruit (powder, liquid)
Pure Stevia (powder, liquid)

Possible Stomach Upset- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Allulose
Date Sugar
Date Syrup
Erythritol
Honey
Maple Sugar

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Artificial Sweeteners
Candy (store-bought)
Corn Syrup
Flavored Syrups
Fondant
Frostings (icings)
Store-Bought Jams (& conserves, jellies, marmalades, and preserves)
Molasses
Sugar (refined, brown, light brown)
Sugar Alcohols (other than erythritol)


Miscellaneous Eats

There are dozens of foods I can think of which just don’t fall into any of the above categories, but which I’ve either come across or been asked about over the last two years. So I’ve collected them here. If you have a question about any particular foods, please drop a comment below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can!

Low Histamine- Only These in First 4 Weeks

Aloe Vera
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Capers (fresh, or preserved in salt & rinsed before use are also ok)
Chlorella
Cocoa Butter
Cream of Tartar
Moringa
Salad Dressings (homemade with allowed ingredients)
Spirulina
Non-Caffeinated Teas (see post)

Moderate Histamine- Slowly Reintroduce During Weeks 6+

Apple cider vinegar
Cacao (unsweetened)
Coconut Aminos
Homemade Bone Broth (made in pressure cooker & frozen)
Umeboshi (Japanese plum paste)
Yeast (*read this and decide for yourself)

High Histamine- Consider VERY Slowly Reintroducing From Weeks 16+

Artificial colors & flavors (including food colorings)
Alcohols (including wine, beer, hard seltzers, etc.)
Bone broth (commercial/boxed)
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Calcium Chloride
Carob
Carrageenan
Chocolates (cocoa/cacao)
Citric Acid
Collagen (& gelatin)
Condiments (pre-made; most contain citrus juices, vinegars, tomatoes, preservatives, etc.)
Ketchup
Lecithins
Maltodextrin
Mayonnaise
Mincemeat
Miso
MSG (a.k.a. monosodium glutamate or yeast extract)
Mustard
Natural Flavorings (could contain high histamine ingredients)
Pickles
Potassium Sorbate
Potassium Triphosphate
Salad dressings (store-bought)
Sodium Benzoate
Sodium Nitrite
Sodium Triphosphate
Soy sauce (& tamari)
Vinegars (except apple cider vinegar)
Xanthan Gum

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