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Low Histamine Snacks: Everything You Need to Know

You may have been told by your doctor that you need to follow a low histamine diet. Or perhaps you have done your own research, and you suspect that eating this way might help you to feel better. Suddenly you realize you are making a sea-change in your eating habits! You need ideas for low histamine snacks.

Let’s dive in, learn more, and discover simple low histamine snacks that you can make easily, and still get the nutrients you need to keep you healthy.

Jump right to the snack section.

Want to dive in even deeper? Here is a post that goes into more detail about histamine intolerance.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is a biogenic amine, meaning it is a special type of molecule that is produced inside your body. Cells all over your body have the ability to convert the amino acid histidine to histamine.

There is a lot of bad publicity for histamine, since it is linked up with allergy symptoms. We have all had to take an antihistamine at some point to get rid of the dreaded histamine. 

However, histamine is necessary for your survival. It is a crucial part of the immune system. This compound plays a role in fighting off attacks by foreign invaders, and bringing in the resources to begin healing trauma in your tissues.. 

Histamine regulates brain functions such as sleep cycles, memory, locomotion and temperature regulation. Additionally, it is involved in the production of stomach acid. 

Receptors for histamine also modulate release of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. They regulate dilation of the blood vessels and bronchial tubes, and relax smooth muscles throughout the body(1) (2).

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

You can see that you don’t want to get rid of all histamine. But for some people, histamine can get out of control and cause unpleasant symptoms.

Here are some symptoms you might have if you are histamine intolerant:

  • itching
  • hives
  • swelling of the face, mouth or throat
  • anxiety and / or panic attacks
  • tachycardia
  • chest pain
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • heartburn
  • irritability
  • blood pressure drop

Why does histamine get out of control?

There are two enzymes in the body that break down most of the histamine so that your body can get rid of it. One is called diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO works in the gut to prevent histamines from entering your system. 

The other is histamine N-methyltransferases (HNMT). HNMT is produced inside the cell and breaks down histamines there.

Either of these could be low, due to either a genetic SNP that affects their production, or lack of nutrients needed to complete the pathway. Any type of damage to the cells lining the gut can interfere with the production of DAO.

Find out how to improve your digestive health simply and easily.

There are also cases where mast cells throughout the body are hyperactivated because of a major threat to the immune system. This is called mast cell activation syndrome. It should be treated by a physician who is knowledgeable in that area.

What is a Low Histamine Diet?

You can’t control everything that happens inside your body. However, you can control what you put into your body. One way you can control histamine is by avoiding high histamine foods.

Histamines are produced by microbes when they ferment foods, and when foods ripen or begin to decay. There are also certain foods that are naturally high in histamine, even if they are fresh. Some foods that fall into this category are walnuts, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, cashews, eggplant, strawberries and mushrooms. Foods made with yeast have higher histamine levels.

There are many spices, beverages, sweeteners and even medications that should not be eaten or used if you are histamine intolerant. If I begin to list them all here this article is going to be ridiculously long, but there are lots of sources online where you can find the information. Just post in the comments if you need help.

Who needs a low histamine diet?

In many cases people are told by their doctor to follow a low histamine diet. You might also have some of the symptoms that I listed above, and want to give the diet a try and see if you get some relief.

Histamine is a difficult thing to measure with testing. Often the easiest way to know whether you are histamine intolerant is by keeping a food diary, and matching it up with symptoms you are experiencing. You can do a trial of certain medications or enzymes to see if they help your symptoms.

This article does not cover medications or enzymes, but I am happy to provide you with ideas for nutritious foods that you can eat to make your low histamine diet simpler and easier.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty with some low histamine snacks.

Basic guidelines for a low histamine diet.

  • Avoid leftovers. As noted above, histamines form in food as it gets older, and even one or two days can make a difference.
  • Avoid fermented and cultured foods. Microbes produce histamines.
  • Avoid cured foods. Aging, nitrites and sulfites can increase histamine levels. 
  • Don’t pre-peel fruits and vegetables. They begin to produce histamines after you peel them.
  • If you aren’t going to eat it that day, freeze it.
  • Avoid canned and prepacked foods, especially with long lists of additives. Many additives increase histamine levels.
  • Avoid buying pre-cut produce. You don’t know how long ago it was cut; it is basically a leftover.

What Snacks Can I Have on a Low Histamine Diet?

Keep in mind that everyone responds differently to foods. You may react to coconut, while someone else can eat it with no problems. Therefore, you need to test new foods and find out whether they affect your symptoms.

Fruits

Split pomegranate shows pithy halves filled with arils.

Fresh fruits are a refreshing snack with lots of vitamins and minerals. It is best to avoid dried fruits like raisins, figs or dried apricots. They have been around a long time and probably made a lot of histamines.

Guidelines: buy fruits fresh, peel and cut them up yourself right before you eat them. Do not buy or eat overly ripe fruits. If possible, buy  them in smaller quantities so that they are not sitting around for days.

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Fresh apricots and figs
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe or honeydew
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Apples
  • Mango slices
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Green bananas or plantains

Vegetables

Pepper, celery and pickle slices sticking out of glass cups filled with dip.

Avoid these high histamine vegetables: tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, any pickled or fermented vegetables, canned vegetables.

We don’t always think of vegetables as snacks, but it is a great way to increase your veggie intake and get lots of colors in your diet.

Guidelines: buy vegetables fresh, peel and cut them up yourself right before you eat them. Do not buy or eat overly ripe veggies. If possible, buy  them in smaller quantities so that they are not sitting around for days.

The following vegetables make a great snack:

  • Salad that doesn’t have any high histamine vegetables.
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets
  • Snow peas
  • Radishes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White or red potatoes

Protein foods

a bag of pistachios spills out onto a wooden table.

Milk products are not high in histamines (unless they are fermented like yogurt), but they do require an enzyme called lactase. Many people who are histamine intolerant also don’t have enough lactase. 

Keep track of your symptoms, and if milk makes them worse, consider going dairy free until your gut is healed. If you do eat dairy, fresh cheeses like cream cheese, cottage, ricotta or fresh mozzarella are okay to eat.

Guidelines: Stay away from cured, ripened, cultured or fermented foods. Instead of saving leftovers in the fridge, pop them in the freezer until you are ready to eat them again. If you have an instant pot, that is a great way to prepare dried beans quickly.

  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • poppy seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds 
  • nut butters from safe nuts, tahini
  • sunflower seeds and butter, pumpkin seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Eggs
  • flash-frozen fish if it agrees with you
  • fresh meats
  • beans prepared from dried, not canned
  • Lentils
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Fresh mozzarella

Drinks and smoothies

A low histamine smoothie with apples and basil leaves scattered around the glass.

Be careful of prepackaged and purchased smoothies. They often have high histamine ingredients snuck in there. The teas listed here are good for digestion and may actually help to break down histamines.

  • Nettle tea
  • dandelion tea
  • chamomile tea
  • juice from allowed fruits and vegetables
  • good quality coffee
  • good old water
  • Smoothies made from low histamine ingredients

Store-bought low histamine snacks

Sometimes you just want to grab a protein bar and not hassle with preparing food. Learn to read the ingredient list and avoid products with high histamine foods, additives and preservatives. 

Look for products with a short ingredient list. The more ingredients, the higher the chance that something in there is going to increase your histamine. Additives and preservatives are not great for your gut or your microbiome. If you allow the gut to heal, chances are that you will be able to break down histamine again.

Here are a couple products you can try. If you are super sensitive, start with a small amount.

  1. Everbar by Livity Foods is made with hemp protein.  Try almond cranberry or green power.
  2. The Kind Breakfast bar – almond butter flavor
  3. Clif Bar – Blueberry Almond Crisp
  4. Health Warrior Organic Pumpkin Seed Bar – Honey Sea Salt flavor  They also have a chia seed bar, but all of these contain cashews, which are high histamine.

Low Histamine Snack Menu Plan and Recipe Booklet

Do you need help putting it together? Download a free menu plan with three weeks of low histamine snacks. The plan includes 12 low histamine recipes to help you with preparation. Just click on the link below to grab your snack plan.

Final Thoughts

Histamine is a compound produced in your body and eaten in foods. Systems all over your body need histamine to function properly.  However, sometimes your body cannot break histamine down quickly enough.

If you are experiencing symptoms of histamine intolerance, you might be on a low histamine diet. This is a challenging eating plan, which can be overwhelming.

I have provided information and ideas to help you sort out foods you can eat for low histamine snacks. You can find specific food ideas, and download a meal plan to help you visualize a snacking schedule.

Histamine intolerance nearly always points back to poor gut health (3). If the cells lining your digestive tract are damaged, you don’t produce the enzyme DAO which is needed to break down histamines.

As you eliminate high histamine foods, would you like to work on healing the root cause? Digestive health is my specialty. Just click on the button below to set up a phone call where we can talk about your situation.

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