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Food which interferes in histamine metabolism

Diet low in histamine


Several foods provoke histamine accumulation in the organism, but not all are necessarily rich in this amine.


Until now, the cause had been searched for in food, but the origin of this syndrome is in the individual itself, being food the access road of the component that leads to this accumulation. In order to help histamine accumulation, food labeling has been proposed to indicate its presence, as it is done with those compounds related to food allergies.


Only by providing proven existence of people (particularly sensitive) or situations (diseases or pharmacological treatments) that result in histaminosis, will food industry accept the challenge of obtaining low histamine foods, applying production technologies that directly indicate in which stages of the production process histamine is most likely to be formed.


Besides rich-histamine foods, other factors causing histamine accumulation in the organism should be taken into account. Therefore, if rich-histamine foods were labeled, it would seem appropriate to clarify that food is not the only factor interfering in histamine metabolism.


These factors may be other biogenic amines that compete with histamine through the same metabolism routes, endogenous histamine releasing substances or even blocking enzyme Diamine Oxidase (DAO) components, such as acetyl aldehyde (ALDH) present in alcohol. Like histamine, biogenic amines could be modified applying technologies, but neither the methodology nor its costs have been described yet.


For this reason, it is recommended to follow a diet low in histamine, but not as a single preventative measure, since there are more obstacles to be taken into account. Several parameters should be modified, and this would make achieving a balanced diet difficult.

Rich-histamine foods

There are discrepancies on the criteria that helps consider food rich in histamine or not.

Some authors suggest eliminating from diet those foods with concentrations higher than 20 mg/kg, while other authors are more demanding and consider low histamine foods those with quantities below 1mg/kg. What is clear, however, is that the symptomatic dose is much lower in histaminosis than in toxicity, 15-20mg and 150mg respectively, since the tolerable dose in both cases is 100mg/kg.

Traditionally, research on histamine contents had been focused on foods related to histamine poisoning episodes, such as oily fish, but this is a mistake since its mechanism of rising histamine levels is different. They are sporadic outbreaks which affect general population as a result of unsanitary food effects.

Even so, in Europe there are some initiatives (ALBA, Allergen dataBAnk; TNO Nutrition & Food Research) that seek to provide an exhaustive database about histamine contents in food, due to the decarboxylation of its amino acid precursor, histidine. The downside of this data is that it can vary greatly from one food to another. Histamine and other biogenic amines concentrations in food are highly variable within the same family and even among two samples of the same product.
Table of histamine content in food:tabla Values are not properly coincident in any food among different sources, since histamine amount varies depending on the fermentation degree. For this reason, it is difficult to define a specific value for each food product. In our diet, it is also difficult to keep only those foods with a {maximum of 20mg/kg, since every product contains histamine. Además de esta lista, están todos los alimentos que, sin ser ricos en histamina, influyen.

In addition to this list, we find all those food products that, without being rich-histamine, influence too. Those foods that easily get damaged microbiologically, such as meat and fish or products and drinks produced by fermentation and maturation, are likely to present high histamine values.

Foods rich in other amines

Apart from rich-histamine foods, in patients with low DAO activity the high intake of foods rich in other amines such as putrescine, cadaverine, b-phenylethylamine, tryptamine, serotonine, tyramine and agmatine can trigger DAO saturation, avoiding it to degrade ingested histamine properly.

The most competitive amines against histamine to be degraded by DAO are putrescine and cadaverine, since their degradation is quicker than histamine and they capture the enzyme faster.

Substrate inhibitiongrafica com Amines amount can be different in each type of food, as in the case of histamine. Depending on the higher or lower presence of biogenic amines, food with the same histamime amount, could trigger symptoms or not.

Nevertheless, for symptoms not to appear, specific amounts for amines are established, indicating the maximum tolerable level, but they only refer to toxicity since values which relate the intake of foods rich in amines to DAO saturation have not been established yet.

Endogenous histamine-releasing foods

This group consists of those foods which release endogenous histamine, i.e. histamine located in mast cells.

Several foods with this characteristic have been described: alcohol, citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, tomato sauce, seafood, chocolate, fish, mushrooms, pig, cereals and egg white.

Some food additives such as glutamate, benzoate, several colorants (yellow E-102 and E-110, E-124, amarant E-123), sulphites and nitrites can release endogenous histamine.

According to the Department of Dermatology at the University of Bonn (Germany), the intake of endogenous histamine-releasing foods or drugs causes the same symptoms as rich-histamine food intake.

Diet low in histamine

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