Are sweet potatoes low histamine? Sweet potatoes are a more nutrient-dense version of the standard white potato. If you’re wondering whether sweet potatoes are low histamine, the answer is yes. Sweet potatoes don’t contain significant quantities of histamine or other biogenic amines.
Let’s take a closer look at whether sweet potatoes are a healthy addition to your plate if you eat a low-histamine diet. We’ll look at the types of sweet potatoes and how this more colorful variety of potato can affect histamine sensitivity symptoms.
Sweet Potatoes Are Nutrient Dense and Low Histamine
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables related to, but distinct from, white potatoes. They have sweeter, softer flesh and thinner, smoother skin than white potatoes. While you may be most familiar with orange sweet potatoes, they come in a variety of beautiful colors, including orange and purple.
The orange sweet potato is a good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid, a class of pigments found in plants that has antioxidant properties.
These properties help protect cells from damage by free radicals, which can contribute to inflammation. Beta-carotene is also converted to Vitamin A in the body, which has anti-inflammatory effects. According to Harvard Health, (1) boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene than other cooking methods.
White potatoes are starchier and have thicker, more textured skin. They are usually white or tan and have a more neutral flavor than sweet potatoes. They are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C but lack the beta-carotene that orange sweet potatoes have.
Purple Sweet Potatoes Are Low Histamine Too
Purple sweet potatoes, also known as “purple yam” or “purple Okinawan sweet potato,” are a variety of sweet potatoes with a deep purple or blue-purple color on the outside and inside. They are often smaller and moister than orange sweet potatoes. But here’s what makes them most distinct from a health and nutrition standpoint.
Purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanins (2), which give them their rich, purple color and anti-inflammatory activity. In terms of taste and texture, purple sweet potatoes have a drier and denser texture with a slightly nuttier and earthier flavor as compared to orange sweet potatoes which are sweeter and have a softer texture.
Sweet Potatoes vs. White Potatoes If You Have Histamine Intolerance
The nutrients that distinguish sweet potatoes from white potatoes are the anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes and beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes. If you’re looking for the healthiest low-histamine potato, sweet potatoes are your best bet.
Both beta carotene (in orange sweet potatoes) (4) and anthocyanins (in purple sweet potatoes) have anti-inflammatory activity (3), which works in your favor if you have histamine intolerance. Low-grade inflammation increases your body’s histamine burden and can cause other health problems, like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Sweet Potatoes Contain Oxalates
Despite their nutrient density and anti-inflammatory activity, there are some downsides to sweet potatoes. For one, they contain oxalates (5). Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. Your body also produces them as a byproduct of metabolism.
Oxalates have a chemical structure that allows them to bind to minerals, particularly calcium, to form crystals. These crystals can accumulate in the kidneys and can cause health problems such as calcium oxalate kidney stones, the most common kind. (6)
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid sweet potatoes. Some people are more susceptible, such as those with a personal or family history of calcium oxalate kidney stones. (6) If you have a history of kidney stones, it’s smart to limit the number of sweet potatoes you eat, even if they are low histamine.
One way to reduce a sweet potato’s oxalate content is to boil the potato and remove the skin before eating it.
Sweet Potatoes and Histamine Intolerance
Are sweet potatoes low histamine? Yes, but you should limit the number you eat if you have a history of kidney stones, or talk to your doctor first. Otherwise, they could be a beneficial addition to your diet due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Plus, sweet potatoes are highly versatile vegetables that you can use in both sweet and savory dishes. You can boil, steam, mash, bake, and even grill these colorful veggies. They are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
As always keep a food diary to see how your body responds to adding sweet potatoes to your diet. Keeping a food diary can be an important tool for individuals with histamine intolerance, as it can help identify foods that trigger symptoms and make it easier to manage the condition.
Plus, a food diary can help you identify other factors that contribute to symptoms, such as stress, alcohol consumption, medication, and supplements, as well as physical activity.
- “Sweet Potatoes | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/sweet-potatoes/.
- Jokioja J, Linderborg KM, Kortesniemi M, Nuora A, Heinonen J, Sainio T, Viitanen M, Kallio H, Yang B. Anthocyanin-rich extract from purple potatoes decreases postprandial glycemic response and affects inflammation markers in healthy men. Food Chem. 2020 Apr 25;310:125797. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.125797. Epub 2019 Oct 26. PMID: 31818516.
- Miguel M. Anthocyanins: Antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory activities. ResearchGate. Published August 2011. Accessed January 23, 2023. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267036523_Anthocyanins_Antioxidant_andor_anti-inflammatory_activities
- Kawata A, Murakami Y, Suzuki S, Fujisawa S. Anti-inflammatory Activity of β-Carotene, Lycopene and Tri-n-butylborane, a Scavenger of Reactive Oxygen Species. In Vivo. 2018 Mar-Apr;32(2):255-264. doi: 10.21873/invivo.11232. PMID: 29475907; PMCID: PMC5905192.
- Gouveia CS, Ganança JF, Lebot V, Pinheiro de Carvalho MÂ. Changes in oxalate composition and other nutritive traits in root tubers and shoots of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L. [Lam.]) under water stress. J Sci Food Agric. 2020 Mar 15;100(4):1702-1710. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.10185. Epub 2019 Dec 24. PMID: 31803935.
- “Calcium Oxalate Stones – National Kidney Foundation.” https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/calcium-oxalate-stone.