Are potatoes high in histamine? In this article, we’ll delve into the intricate relationship between histamine intolerance and potatoes, separating fact from fiction. By the end, you’ll have clarity on whether potatoes can be a part of your diet and how to navigate them wisely.
We’ll also explore the histamine content of potatoes and potato products, like dried potato flakes and potato flour. As a physician, I’ve based this article on the latest scientific research and experience with patients who have histamine intolerance.
The Complexity of Histamine Sensitivity
Histamine intolerance varies from person to person, making it difficult to provide one-size-fits-all guidelines for histamine-rich foods like potatoes.
Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding potatoes and histamine intolerance. What triggers symptoms in some people might be well tolerated in others. However, there are some generalizations you can make about diet and histamine intolerance.
Certain foods, like fermented foods, are problematic for everyone with histamine intolerance, whereas other foods cause symptoms in some people but not others.
You’ll have to experiment a bit to determine what your tolerance is for certain foods. You can do this by keeping a food journal.
But there’s one favorite food that many people think they can’t live without and that’s the potato. What should you know about potatoes and histamine intolerance?
You might wonder whether eating potatoes is likely to aggravate histamine sensitivity symptoms. What should you know about potatoes if you have histamine intolerance?
Potatoes and Histamine Intolerance
There’s good news if you’re a potato lover.
Potatoes are not known to be high in histamine, and they are unlikely to increase your body’s histamine burden. Most people with histamine intolerance can enjoy potatoes without problems.
You can also eat potatoes if you have other food-related issues, like gluten sensitivity, since they’re not a source of gluten. In addition, potato allergy is uncommon, making potatoes a suitable food for people with food allergies and intolerances.
However, potatoes contain oxalates. These are compounds that are problematic if you have a history of kidney stones. (9) Plus, some people with joint problems, like arthritis, may be sensitive to oxalates.
Another concern is that oxalates reduce the absorption of minerals, like calcium and zinc, from foods. If you eat a mineral-rich diet, this is unlikely to be a problem.
Most healthy people don’t have issues when they consume moderate quantities of foods that contain oxalates, though.
Other components in potatoes that some people may be sensitive to include lectins, a type of protein that can irritate the lining of the small intestines.
Some people are also sensitive to salicylates and FODMAPs in potatoes. People with irritable bowel syndrome, for exaple, may benefit from a low-FODMAP diet.
Are French Fries High in Histamine?
Although potatoes are not high in histamine, the way you prepare foods can affect their histamine content. Studies show that frying vegetables increases their histamine content. (8)
Plus, as mentioned, frying them into a crisp French fry does nothing but negative things for your health.
One study even found that French fries top the list of harmful foods for overall health. (1)
On the other hand, you don’t want to eat potatoes raw either. Raw potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, natural toxins that can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. (7) Glycoalkaloid levels are highest in raw potatoes that have turned green or contain sprouts.
Fried Potatoes and Mortality
Even if you don’t have histamine intolerance, frying isn’t the best way to prepare potatoes. A study followed 4440 people for 8 years. It found that consuming fried potatoes often was linked with a higher risk of mortality over the course of the study.
They’re not sure why eating French fries might boost mortality, plus it’s only an association, and doesn’t necessarily show causation.
However, French fries are often cooked in unhealthy fats and the process of frying potatoes creates chemicals called acrylamides that may increase the risk of cancer, although this is unproven in humans as of yet. (2)
Despite these findings, Americans consume 116 pounds of white potatoes and about two-thirds of that are friend potatoes, including chips. Americans love their French fries!
You can avoid the oils by frying them in an air fryer, but there are healthier ways to prepare potatoes.
Are Boiled and Baked Potatoes High in Histamine?
Another popular way to prepare potatoes is to bake them in the oven. From a health standpoint, baking and boiling are the healthiest ways to enjoy this food.
Although cooking can affect the histamine content of foods, baking or boiling shouldn’t have a significant impact on a potato’s histamine content. So, it’s okay to enjoy baked potatoes in moderation if you have histamine intolerance.
Are Potato Chips High in Histamine?
If you enjoy a crunchy snack, you might wonder whether potato chips are high in histamine? Like potatoes, most potato chips are low histamine. However, there are concerns about the processing that potato chips undergo and the type of oil manufacturers use to make this crunchy snack.
For example, sunflower oil is high in histamine, so you’ll want to avoid potato chips fried in this oil. Read the label carefully, and avoid potato chips seasoned with high-histamine spices and seasonings.
Choose potato chips in vacuum sealed packaging, store them in a place where they aren’t exposed to air, and use them quickly.
Are Dried Mashed Potatoes Low Histamine?
You might be tempted to buy dried mashed potato flakes as a convenient way to get mashed potatoes on the table. Instant mashed potatoes, often referred to as potato flakes, may be high in histamine. The process of making these flakes involves several steps that can foster histamine-producing bacteria. If histamine overload is a concern, it’s best to steer clear of potato flakes.
What about Potato Flour?
Potato flour differs from potato starch in that it’s made from the whole potato, imparting a distinct potato flavor when used in large quantities. Like potatoes, potato flour is likely low in histamine.
The Nutritional Content of Potatoes
Since you can likely tolerate potatoes even if you have histamine intolerance, you might wonder how nutritious they are. Although white potatoes fall short in comparison to some non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli or kale, they are not devoid of nutrition.
White potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, with one serving supplying almost a third of the recommended intake of vitamin C daily. Plus, they contain substantial quantities of potassium, a mineral important for blood pressure control, and vitamin B6. They also contain modest amounts of fiber.
Are Sweet Potatoes Low Histamine?
Like white potatoes, sweet potatoes are low histamine and a suitable food for most people with histamine intolerance. As with white potatoes, this assumes you aren’t sensitive to the oxalates, lectins, salicylates, or FODMAPs in potatoes.
The biggest difference between sweet potatoes and white potatoes is that sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory activity, but a portion of the beta-carotene you take in, your body converts to vitamin A, but white potatoes are higher in potassium.
Don’t Overdo Potatoes With Histamine Intolerance
Potatoes lead to higher blood sugar levels compared to other non-starchy vegetables, which can contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation.
Enjoy potatoes in moderation, but don’t eat them as a substitute for non-starchy vegetables that don’t aggravate your histamine sensitivity symptoms. The latter contains more nutrients and phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory activity. In other words, they’re better fo your health!
According to Harvard Health, eating a cup of potatoes raises blood sugar as much as eating a handful of jelly beans or drinking a can of soft drink. (3)
Sweet potatoes can also cause blood sugar spikes, although you also get the added benefits of the anti-inflammatory effects of the beta-carotene.
If you’re choosing between white potatoes and sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes add extra nutritional punch.
Reduce the Glycemic Effect of Potatoes
Did you know there’s a way to reduce the blood sugar spike you get when you eat white potatoes? After cooking a potato, place it in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Storing the potato in the refrigerator turns some of its starch into resistant starch (5), which is beneficial because it doesn’t raise blood sugar.
When you refrigerate a potato, around 40% of the starch becomes resistance starch and you get a reduced blood sugar response. It’s okay to cook the potato after refrigerating it since the resistant starch remains stable once it forms.
Resistant starch has other health benefits too. It has a similar effect to fiber on your digestive tract and even has anti-inflammatory benefits.
Gut bacteria change resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids, which support a healthy gut lining and reduce inflammation.
There’s some evidence that a diet high in resistant starch might reduce the risk of colon cancer because of the anti-inflammatory effects of short-chain fatty acids.(6)
Are Potatoes High in Histamine?
If you have histamine intolerance, you will likely have no problems eating potatoes. Most people with histamine overload issues tolerate potatoes without a problem.
But keep in mind that starchy potatoes cause significant blood glucose spikes that can increase the inflammatory burden on your body. That’s why it’s a good idea to limit how often you eat them.
Watch how you prepare potatoes too. If you bake or boil potatoes, try the resistance starch method to increase the resistant starch content of the potato. The resistant starch is healthy for your gut and blood sugar.
When you have histamine sensitivity, constant testing to determine what your body will tolerate is important. Keep your food journal up-to-date, so you can fine tune your diet to give you the fewest histamine intolerance symptoms.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 106, Issue 1, July 2017, Pages 162–167, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.117.154872
- “Acrylamide and Cancer Risk.” https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/acrylamide.html.
- “The problem with potatoes | The Nutrition Source | Harvard ….” 24 Jan. 2014, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2014/01/24/the-problem-with-potatoes/.
- “Foods that spike a patient’s blood glucose are not what ….” 14 Mar. 2019, https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/diabetes/foods-spike-patient-s-blood-glucose-are-not-what-you-think.
- “Cooling Some Foods After Cooking Increases Their Resistant ….” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cooling-resistant-starch.
- Higgins JA. Resistant starch: metabolic effects and potential health benefits. J AOAC Int. 2004 May-Jun;87(3):761-8. PMID: 15287677.
- Mensinga TT, Sips AJ, Rompelberg CJ, van Twillert K, Meulenbelt J, van den Top HJ, van Egmond HP. Potato glycoalkaloids and adverse effects in humans: an ascending dose study. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2005 Feb;41(1):66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2004.09.004. Epub 2004 Dec 10. PMID: 15649828.
- Chung BY, Park SY, Byun YS, Son JH, Choi YW, Cho YS, Kim HO, Park CW. Effect of Different Cooking Methods on Histamine Levels in Selected Foods. Ann Dermatol. 2017 Dec;29(6):706-714. doi: 10.5021/ad.2017.29.6.706. Epub 2017 Oct 30. PMID: 29200758; PMCID: PMC5705351.
- Noonan SC, Savage GP. Oxalate content of foods and its effect on humans. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 1999 Mar;8(1):64-74. PMID: 24393738.