If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from histamine intolerance, you know how hard it can be to find low histamine snacks.
Histamine is an organic compound that our body makes from a complicated process involving an amino acid, histidine. It’s found in all body tissues and is a key player in many of our physiological processes.
But when we have too much histamine, or our bodies can’t break it down properly, that’s when we start to experience problems. Symptoms of histamine intolerance include runny nose, watery eyes, itching, swelling, and hives.
Luckily, there are plenty of low histamine snack ideas out there if you know where to look. This list includes 13 different options, ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to nuts and seeds.
So whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory, there’s sure to be something on this list that fits the bill.
What is histamine
Histamine is an organic nitrogenous compound involved in local immune responses, as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter for the brain, spinal cord, and uterus. (1)
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. In our body, the amino acid histidine breaks down and produces histamine. Histamine acts like a chemical message. It also plays an important role in:
– Localized immune response (2)
– Protecting our myelin sheath (nerves) (3)
– Gut permeability (4)
– Neurotransmitter (5)
– Blood pressure (7)
– Sleep/Wake cycle (8)
Food-born bacteria like Morganella morganii, Citrobacter freundii, and Enterobacter spp. all release histamines as part of their infection process. That is why we feel ill when we have food poisoning, it is our body’s reaction to the histamines being released. (9)
In low concentrations, histamine can have positive effects on the body such as stimulating gastric acid secretion (which aids in digestion). (4) However, at high concentrations, histamine can produce negative effects such as causing inflammation. (2)
For this reason, histamine is a double edge sword, on the one hand, it plays a critical role in maintaining our immune system, on the other hand, it can also cause reactions in people who have a difficult time processing it. (1, 10)
Who is at risk for histamine intolerance?
Histamine intolerance is the result of a deficiency in the activity of one or more enzymes that are involved in histamine metabolism. This causes a build-up of histamine and therefore the symptoms of histamine intolerance. (10)
People who are at risk for histamine intolerance include those who have:
– A low level of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) that breaks down histamine. (11)
– A sensitivity or allergy to certain foods can cause a histamine response. (12)
– Been diagnosed with mastocytosis or carcinoid syndrome, both of which are conditions that can increase the amount of histamine in the body. (13)
– Taken medications such as antibiotics, aspirin, and ibuprofen which can all increase the amount of histamine in the body. (10)
If you think you may have histamine intolerance, it is important to speak with your doctor. They will be able to help you determine if you have a true intolerance or if your symptoms are being caused by something else.
Now that we’ve discussed what histamine is and who might be at risk for histamine intolerance, let’s move on to our low histamine snack ideas!
Low histamine snack ideas
Two components of histamine intolerance are, the amount of histidine the amino acid found in high protein foods like beef and pork. Second is the amount of histamine-producing bacteria, mostly found in foods that have been fermented. (10)
While living a histamine-free life is not possible, limiting the amino acid Histidine, and histamine-producing foods can help to lessen the severity of symptoms. (10)
The low histamine snack ideas below offer both, avoiding fermented foods, plus each snack has less than 20% of the RDA for histidine. (14)
1. Apple and almond butter:
Apple and almond butter is a good low histamine snack because they are low in histidine and do not contain any fermented foods. Almond butter is also a source of protein that is low in the amino acid histidine.
- 1 medium apple
- 1 tbsp almond butter
2. Chia Pudding top with Fresh Strawberries
Chia pudding is a good low histamine snack because it is a good source of fiber and protein, and low in the amino acid histidine. Fresh strawberries are also a good source of antioxidants and vitamins.
Cashew milk is a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to cow’s milk.
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- ½ cup fresh sliced strawberries
- ¾ cup of tree nut milk
3. Hummus With Blue Dimond Crackers
Hummus with cracks is not only a delish snack but is a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It is also a good low histamine snack because it is low in the amino acid histidine and should not be fermented.
- 1/4 cup low histamine hummus
- 16 Blue Dimond crackers
4. Pecans with Mozzarella String Cheese
Pecans are a good low histamine snack because they are low in the amino acid histidine. Cheese that has not been aged, such as fresh Mozzarella string cheese, is a wonderful source of protein with a low histidine content and since it has not aged, histamine-producing germs should be few.
- 28 grams of pecans
- 1 oz string mozzarella string cheese
5. Roast Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a good low histamine snack because they are low in the amino acid histidine and do not contain any fermented foods. Chickpeas are also a good source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
- 40 g The Good Bean Chickpeas
6. Oatmeal with blueberry
Oatmeal is a low histamine snack because it is low in the amino acid histidine. Blueberries are also a good source of antioxidants and fiber.
- ⅓ cup oatmeal
- 1 cup blueberries
7. Rice cakes with Macadamia Nut Butter
Rice cakes are low in amino acid histidine and are not fermented. Macadamia nut butter is also a good source of healthy fats and has some protein that is low in the amino acid histidine
- 2 rice cakes
- 1 tbsp Macadamia nut butter
8. Hard-boiled Egg With Popcorn
A hard-boiled egg is a good source of protein and fats. Popcorn is a good source of fiber. Both eggs and popcorn are low in the amino acid histidine and neither involve fermentation in their processing.
- 1 Hard-boiled egg
- 1 cup of popcorn
9. Pistachio with a Pear
Pistachios and pears make a great low histamine snack because they are both low in the amino acid histidine. Pistachios are also a good source of protein and healthy fats, while pears are a good source of fiber and carbs.
- 28 grams of pistachio
- 1 medium pear
10. Strawberry Almond Smoothie:
Strawberry almond smoothie is a low histamine snack because it is low in the amino acid histidine. Almond butter and chia seeds are also good sources of protein and healthy fats. Frozen strawberries are a good source of antioxidants and fiber.
- 1 tbsp Almond butter
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 cup Unsweetened almond milk.
11. Cottage Cheese with sliced mangos:
Cottage cheese and sliced mangos make a great low histamine snack because they are both low in the amino acid histidine. Cottage cheese is also a good source of protein, while mangos are a good source of fiber.
- ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 cup of chopped mangos
12. Hummus and Carrots:
Hummus and carrots are low histamine snacks because they are low in the amino acid histidine. Carrots are also a good source of fiber.
- 4 tbsp hummus
- 150 grams of baby carrots
13. Kind Bars:
Kind bars are low histamine snacks because they are low in the amino acid histidine. They also would not be considered fermented foods.
- 1 Kind Bar
As you can infer by the title, The More We Know The Less We Know, there are still a lot of unknowns with histamine intolerance and food.
If you have histamine intolerance, please use your best judgment when it comes to what you eat and always listen to your body.
Additional resources on histamines and intolerances
1. Histamine Intolerance—The More We Know the Less We Know. A Review.
This is a review published in Nutrients looking at the causes symptoms and treatments for histamine intolerances.
2. Histamine Intolerance: The Current State of the Art
This review of histamine intolerance focuses on its cause and the current diagnostic and therapeutic options.
Some other tips to keep in mind when following a low histamine diet include:
-Avoid cured meats like bacon, ham, and salami
-Avoid most aged and hard cheeses
-Avoid fermented foods like sauerkrauta and kimchi
-Avoid processed foods, especially those with artificial preservatives
If you’re struggling to come up with low histamine snacks, consider speaking with a nutritionist or dietitian for more assistance.
Histamine plays a critical role in our bodies, therefore, living a histamine-free life is not possible, limiting the amino acid Histidine, and histamine-producing fermented foods can help to lessen the severity of symptoms.
The low histamine snacks we covered offer both, avoiding fermented foods, plus each snack has less than 20% of the RDA for histidine.
If you’re struggling to come up with low histamine snack ideas, reach out to me I would love to help.
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.
Noah Quezada is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in Denver, Colorado. Over the course of more than a decade, he has gained extensive experience in helping clients manage their weight through in-person sessions. Noah is also the 2023 President of the Colorado Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.