Are Green Beans High in Histamine?

Are green beans high in histamine? If you enjoy fresh green beans, you might wonder whether they can aggravate histamine intolerance symptoms.

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Green beans are a familiar vegetable on the plates of many. Green beans are known by many common names, including French beans, string beans, snap beans, snaps, and the French name haricots verts. You can buy them fresh, canned, frozen, or even grow your own.

Plus, you can cook green beans in various ways to bring out their flavor and they’re quick and easy to prepare.  Some people steam, boil, or bake greens beans.

You can even add them to low-histamine casseroles or salads or toss them into a stir-fry. But there’s another question: should you eat green beans if you have histamine intolerance?

Are Green Beans High in Histamine?

Before buying green beans, you must first know whether they’re high in histamine. If you have histamine intolerance, too much histamine, a type of biogenic amine, can trigger histamine intolerance symptoms. (3)

The key is to preventing histamine intolerance symptoms is to choose low-histamine foods and keep your total body histamine burden as low as possible.

So, what about green beans? Should you eat them if you have histamine intolerance? They do not contain lots of preformed histamine, but they can still be problematic if you have histamine intolerance. That’s because green beans are histamine liberators.

Green Beans as Histamine Liberators

With histamine intolerance, it’s also important to avoid histamine liberators, foods and medications that trigger the release of histamine by mast cells and basophils, two types of white blood cells in your bloodstream.

Some examples of foods that are histamine liberators are citrus fruit, shellfish, fish, peanuts, strawberries, tomatoes, alcohol, and egg whites. (not a complete list)

How do you know if a food is a histamine liberator? One test used in a healthcare setting is called leukocyte histamine release test (LHRT).

To do this test, researchers add extracts of foods or other compounds with possible allergic properties to a person’s leukocytes (white blood cells) from their bloodstream.

If they’re sensitive to that compund or food, their leukocytes will release histamine. The more sensitive an individual is to that food, the more histamine they release.

Based on this type of testing, green beans can be histamine liberators. Green bean allergies are also fairly common and there are cases of people who are hypersensitive to green beans developing an allergic reaction from inhaling the aroma of cooking green beans. (2)

histamine intolerance symptoms can mimic an allergic reaction

An allergic reaction to green beans might trigger symptoms such as:

  • Hives
  • Diffuse itching
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness
  • Nausea or abdominal cramping

If you have histamine intolerance and you eat greens beans, you could experience these symptoms too, although the symptoms will likely be milder than they would be with an allergic reaction. How well you tolerate histamine liberators, like green beans, will depend on:

  • Your level of diamine oxidase (the enzyme that breaks down histamine)
  • The totality of your diet If you eat mostly low histamine foods and eat a few green beans, you may have symptoms

From talking to patients with histamine intolerance, many can tolerate modest quantities of green beans. However, a few cannot. That’s why it’s so important to introduce small quantities of a suspected histamine liberator or other food that could trigger histamine intolerance symptoms and see how you respond.

Document everything you eat and your symptoms in a food diary. We can’t emphasize that enough!

Canned Greens Beans May Contain More Histamine Than Fresh

Beyond being a histamine liberator, green beans that are canned may contain additional histamine. Canned foods often have higher levels of histamine than fresh produce. (4) So, if you find you can tolerate small quantities of green beans, make sure they’re fresh and not canned. Avoid canned foods entirely.

Nutritional Content of Green Beans

As mentioned, green beans are low in histamine but are histamine liberators, but some people can eat them in modest quantities without triggering histamine intolerance symptoms.

If you enjoy green beans and they don’t worsen your symptoms, eat them occasionally, but realize they aren’t as nutritious as other green vegetables.

Green beans are low in carbohydrates, making them blood-sugar friendly, and high in fiber. They also contain significant quantities of potassium and iron.

The fiber in green beans is both soluble and insoluble, making it the fiber beneficial for both heart (soluble fiber) health and for preventing constipation. (insoluble fiber).

raw green beans contain lectins

Don’t Eat Green Beans Raw

If you eat small quantities of green beans, don’t eat them raw. Raw green beans contain lectins, proteins that are hard to digest and are potentially damaging to the cells that line your gut.

Lectins may also reduce nutrient absorption. If you eat a lot of raw greens beans, you could develop nausea and diarrhea. (7)

The Bottom Line

Are green beans high in histamine? In and of themselves, they’re not high in histamine, although canned ones may contain more. However, they are histamine liberators, meaning they can still pose problems for you if you have histamine intolerance.

As mentioned, some people are able to consume modest quantities, so it’s important that you determine your individual tolerance by listening to your body and keeping a food journal. That’s always a good practice! Now find out whether zucchini is low histamine.

References:

  1. “LOINC 7128-2 — Green Bean triggered histamine release ….” https://loinc.org/7128-2/.
  2. Igea JM, Fernandez M, Quirce S, de la Hoz B, Diez Gomez ML. Green bean hypersensitivity: an occupational allergy in a homemaker. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1994 Jul;94(1):33-5. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(94)90068-x. PMID: 8027496.
  3. Shulpekova YO, Nechaev VM, Popova IR, et al. Food Intolerance: The Role of Histamine. Nutrients. 2021;13(9):3207. doi:10.3390/nu13093207
  4. ‌ Ganapathy Balavinayagamani, Khalid A, Mong Xin Ru, Paulraj Ponnaiah. Histamine content in various types of canned foods (fruits and syrups) stored under different temperature… ResearchGate. Published August 2017. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319187828_Histamine_content_in_various_types_of_canned_foods_fruits_and_syrups_stored_under_different_temperature_conditions_over_time-an_in_vitro_study
  5. ‌”Green beans, raw nutrition facts and analysis..” https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Green_beans%2C_raw_75101800_nutritional_value.html.
  6. He S, Simpson BK, Sun H, Ngadi MO, Ma Y, Huang T. Phaseolus vulgaris lectins: A systematic review of characteristics and health implications. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Jan 2;58(1):70-83. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1096234. Epub 2017 Jul 11. PMID: 26479307.