Histamine in Foods

Histamine is found in a wide variety of foods. In addition, some foods can stimulate the release of histamine within the body; these foods are called “histamine liberators.” Following is a list of common histamine-containing foods and histamine liberators consumed as part of the “Standard American Diet,” the prevailing dietary pattern of the United States and Canada.

Histamine-Containing Foods:

  • Cheese (all types, especially aged)
  • Alcoholic beverages (especially wine, champagne, beer)
  • Vinegar (all types)
  • Soy sauce and other fermented sauces
  • Fermented vegetables (e.g., sauerkraut)
  • Aged, cured, processed and fermented meat products (e.g., pepperoni, sausage, bacon)
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts, walnuts)
  • Shellfish
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Eggplant

Histamine Liberators:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Berries (especially strawberries)
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Citrus fruits
  • Egg whites
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple

It’s important to note that alcoholic beverages present a triple-threat to histamine levels by 1) introducing histamine, 2) liberating histamine, and 3) blocking the activity of DAO in the GI tract. Foodstuffs that combine individual foods found in this list, such as pizza (cheese, aged meats, tomatoes) can also be particularly problematic for those sensitive to histamine. And finally, many if not most packaged, processed ready-to-eat foods are likely to contain histamine or compounds that cause the release of histamine within the body.

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