French fries have been my comfort food for as long as I can remember, and they were really hard to give up. If you also have histamine intolerance, you’re undoubtedly a bit confused by the information out there about potatoes in their various forms. Once you’ve read all you can, you may realize that like with many things, there are no universally applicable answers about potatoes and histamine, because there are no universal rules regarding histamine intolerance. You can monitor what you eat, but you may not have the same reaction as someone else, because every body is unique.
On the other hand, there are cooking methods and ingredients which tend to trigger reactions in people with histamine intolerance, and knowing about those will make your life much easier. To backtrack a bit, histamine is an inflammatory amine released by your immune system to call attention to an allergen it perceives as problematic. So if your immune system perceives an ingredient in your dish as a potential threat, it will release histamine, and that reaction can be avoided.
Overall, researchers find that the potato is not the problem, but rather the ingredients put into preparing it, even the pots and pans used to cook it. Beyond that, potatoes contain lectin and oxalates, two plant toxins which some people are sensitive to and which I discuss more in-depth in this article. This is important to note if you believe you’re having a histamine reaction to potatoes, because you must first rule out a sensitivity to lectin or oxalates, and make sure you’re using the proper cooking utensils and methods.
Are Potatoes High Histamine?
Potatoes are a staple in many parts of the world, as they’re calorie-dense and delicious, and you can cook so many different dishes with each type. In turn, potatoes are a go-to food for many people with symptoms of histamine overload. But potatoes’ histamine levels do fluctuate depending on the way you prepare them, with boiling or steaming potatoes resulting in the lowest histamine levels.
This means that mashed potatoes are low histamine, but only if made from fresh potatoes rather than potato flakes (see below). If you fry potatoes, histamine levels rise. It makes no difference what color of potato you purchase: white, red, blue, Idaho, russets, or otherwise, as all potatoes are low histamine. But to be clear, french fries are low histamine only as long as they’re prepared in a low histamine oil and aren’t deep fried.
Most people’s issues with potatoes and histamine come from the other ingredients or the way a dish is prepared. However, if you feel that you’re having life-threatening symptoms from eating potatoes, please consult with an ENT doctor about a potential potato allergy. They may recommend you avoid vegetables in the nightshade family, as a true nightshade allergy is rare, but it’s not uncommon for people with an allergy to one nightshade to begin reacting to another. Please note that this is a separate issue from histamine intolerance (though there’s great overlap in symptoms).
Are Sweet Potatoes High in Histamine?
The sweet potato is an excellent alternative to regular potatoes for those with nightshade issues. It’s unrelated to the plain potato, but it has a similar texture and much more nutritional value, making it a great substitution. The added benefit of sweet potatoes is that they’re generally less impactful upon your blood sugar, which helps tamp down inflammation. Low histamine sweet potato options include baked fries, mashed with coconut oil, and air fryer chips.
Are Potato Chips High in Histamine?
Store-bought potato chips may typically be low in histamine; however, you never know what oils were used to process the chips. If an oil high in histamine is used, or if the chips were seasoned with herbs & spices high in histamine, you may react not to the potato chip histamine itself, but to the ingredients used to make the chips. Additionally, when oils are heated at very high temperatures they create highly oxidizing chemicals that can cause inflammation.
This is an important consideration when trying any low histamine snack, as ingredients aren’t the only way to increase histamine content. The best option for keeping potato chips’ histamine levels low is to make homemade potato chips and store them in the freezer, reheating them in an oven or toaster oven. Be sure to use a low histamine oil, and soak your potato slices in water before thoroughly drying them, to remove as much starch as possible from the outsides, promoting crispiness.
Is Potato Starch High in Histamine?
Potato starch is low in histamine, and often isolated as a byproduct of processing. To extract it, producers use a drying process which separates the starch from the rest of the potato. Once dried thoroughly it resembles white flour, and is an excellent gluten-free thickener for making sauces and gravies. It’s also become quite common in gluten free pastas and gluten free flour blends, though it may not be a 1-to-1 replacement for any particular flour.
Is Potato Flour High in Histamine?
Potato flour is different from potato starch, although it’s also made by pulverizing uncooked, dried potatoes, and both products are considered low in histamine. However potato flour is made from the whole potato rather than any one isolated part of it, so using large amounts of the flour will add a distinct potato flavor. If you feel that your symptoms of histamine overload are increasing while following a low histamine diet, then you may want to avoid potatoes for at least two weeks.
This is because whole potatoes, as mentioned above, are high in oxalates and lectins, which can can aggravate the signs of allergies in sensitive individuals. So while potato flour is low in histamine, it’s higher in histamine than arrowroot or tapioca flours, both of which are low histamine alternatives to potato flour.
Are Potato Flakes High in Histamine?
Also called instant mashed potatoes, potato flakes are most likely high histamine. This is because the actual process of making potato flakes is quite involved, and at several steps there are chances for histamine-producing bacteria to take up residence. Put simply, to make dried potato flakes, manufacturers use a drum drying process that dehydrates pre-made mashed potatoes into a crumble. Both when the mashed potatoes are cooked and processed and when they’re sitting on the shelf are they vulnerable to increasing histamine levels.
Safe Oils to Fry Potatoes In
Several oils are considered low in histamine, and are excellent to use for frying potatoes. However some of the following oils may be high-heat sensitive, so please note that only ghee and high quality avocado or olive oil should be used at higher temperatures. This is because using very high heat (450°F or higher) destroys many of the nutrients in an otherwise healthy oil, and it can change the oil’s chemical makeup, potentially causing health problems down the road.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Grass-Fed Butter/Ghee
- Avocado Oil
- Sunflower Oil
Whether you have histamine intolerance or not, there are numerous benefits to using low histamine oils, including fighting chronic ailments such as heart disease. Consuming a higher-fat diet can help keep blood sugar stable, stave off hunger for longer, and provide the nutritional building blocks for healthy cellular formation. Not to mention that by avoiding high histamine fats, you’re going to lower your body’s histamine load and be much better equipped to address inflammation in the body and heal skin issues.
Tips to Keep Potatoes Low in Histamine
It’s wise to remember that it’s not the histamine in potatoes causing your adverse reactions, but the result of histamine when there’s too much of it in your body. These tips for keeping dishes low histamine apply to all cooking, but you’ll find that certain methods and types of cooking are more amenable to histamine sensitivity.
- Only pair potatoes with other low histamine foods, or even better, with actively antihistamine foods.
- Avoid toxic compounds & endocrine disruptors released by very high heat cooking and/or the use of non-stick cooking tools.
- Use stainless steel, enameled pots, pans, ceramic, glass, or cast iron coated cookware; for rapid “slow cooking,” use a pressure cooker or instapot.
- Prepare your food through boiling, steaming, sauteing, braising, and otherwise baking at low to medium temperatures.
- Avoid smoking and “slow cooking” methods that involve heating food for more than an hour, and/or leaving food to “set” in the fridge or on the counter for more than an hour.
- Never store foods in plastic containers; use glass storage containers.
- Freeze all leftovers rather than refrigerating them.
There are various levels of histamine found in all foods and in all environments, and everyone reacts differently. If you know you have histamine intolerance, your goal is to eat low histamine foods that have been prepared safely, and for most of us, any & all potatoes can be a part of that lifestyle.