Are Yams High in Histamine?

Are yams high in histamine? If you have histamine intolerance, you know how important it is to choose low histamine foods that won’t worsen your histamine intolerance symptoms or increase your body’s histamine burden. Many vegetables are low in histamine, and with some exceptions, they can be part of a low-histamine diet.

What about yams?

Yams are members of the Dioscoreaceae family, along with lilies and grasses. They’re a popular site in the fresh produce section of grocery stores. You can recognize them by their tough, scaly, brown skin and white or purple flesh. The skin is tough but it’s also rich in fiber.

Many people confuse yams with sweet potatoes or assume they’re the same thing, but they’re not. Sweet potatoes have a more orange exterior and light orange flesh, although it would be easy for someone not familiar with the two to confuse them.

Yams and Histamine Intolerance

Are yams high in histamine? If you enjoy the taste of yams, you’ll be pleased to learn that yams are not high in histamine. They are also not high in other biogenic amines that could aggravate histamine intolerance symptoms. (4)

It is also important to consider other biogenic amines in your chosen foods that can trigger histamine-sensitive symptoms just as high-histamine foods can.

You’re familiar with some of the foods that are high in biogenic amines like: (1)

  • Fermented foods
  • Fish
  • Wine
  • Cheese
  • Dried or processed meat

These are foods you want to stay away from as they can increase your stores of histamine and increase the likelihood of developing histamine intolerance symptoms.

Fortunately, yams are not a significant source of biogenic amines, meaning most people with histamine intolerance can enjoy them in moderation. Yet we’re all a little different. Always keep a food journal, so you know how you react to new foods you add to your diet. There could be another component in yams that you don’t tolerate.

baked yam

Could Yams Be Beneficial for Histamine Intolerance?

Beyond being a low-histamine food, yams may offer benefits if you have histamine sensitivity. If you’re histamine intolerant, the goal is to enjoy more low-histamine anti-inflammatory foods and avoid those that fuel inflammation. Be especially wary of packaged and canned foods and choose the freshest items you can.

Here’s some encouraging news. Studies in rats show that powdered yam lowers the body’s inflammatory burden and has antioxidant activity. (1,2) Yams are rich in several antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin C and beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A). In rats, a study found that yam increased the expression of antioxidant enzymes in the lining of their colons. (4)

Yams And Their Effect on Blood Sugar

Like sweet potatoes, yams are antioxidant rich. However, yams contain more natural starch than sweet potatoes while sweet potatoes have more beta-carotene than yams. You might also wonder whether yams cause a surge in blood sugar due to their starch?

Despite their starch, yams contain enough fiber that the rise in blood sugar you get when you eat them is moderated. Based on the glycemic index, a measure of how a specific amount of a food affects blood sugar, yams raise blood sugar less than sweet potatoes.

Yams have a glycemic index of 54 whereas sweet potatoes have a glycemic index of 80.

Studies even show that yams have beneficial effects on rats with diabetes. When rats consumed yam powder their blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C, a marker of longer-term blood sugar control, dropped. At least in rats, yam powder improves how beta-cells in the pancreas produce insulin.

So, if you have histamine intolerance and are diabetic, eating yams in moderation is unlikely to be harmful, but be sure to follow your blood sugars to see how you respond. Also, if you’re diabetic, eat yams in moderation as they are higher in starch than many other vegetables.

coat yams with low-histamine olive oil

Are Yams High in Histamine: The Best Way to Prepare Yams

The best way to prepare yams if you have histamine intolerance is to bake them. To do this:

  • Preheat your oven to 425° Fahrenheit
  • Wash your yams thoroughly.
  • Cut yams into chunks and toss them in olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt.
  • Place the chopped yams in a baking dish or on a baking sheet
  • Place them in the oven for about 45 minutes

When you remove the yams from the oven, they should be soft on the inside and slightly crispy around the edges.

Coating yams in olive oil is also safe with histamine intolerance. Not only is olive oil low in histamine, it contains polyphenols and vitamin E with anti-inflammatory benefits. Do your research before buying olive oil though.

Independent testing of olive oils you buy at the grocery stores shows some are fraudulent. (6,7) Manufacturers add cheaper oils, like soybean oil, to dilute the oil for bigger profits. One way to avoid such fraud is to look for olive oil with the California Olive Oil Commission Certified Extra Virgin seal.

Are Yams High in Histamine: The Bottom Line

Yams are a low-histamine food and one that contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Low-histamine vegetables are a good way to reduce inflammation in your body and add more fiber to your diet.

As always, keep a food diary and listen to your body. It’s the best indicator of how you respond to a food.

References:

  1. Chiu CS, Deng JS, Chang HY, Chen YC, Lee MM, Hou WC, Lee CY, Huang SS, Huang GJ. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Taiwanese yam (Dioscorea japonica Thunb. var. pseudojaponica (Hayata) Yamam.) and its reference compounds. Food Chem. 2013 Nov 15;141(2):1087-96. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.04.031. Epub 2013 Apr 18. PMID: 23790890.
  2. Park JM, Kim YJ, Kim JS, Han YM, Kangwan N, Hahm KB, Kim TS, Kwon O, Kim EH. Anti-inflammatory and carbonic anhydrase restoring actions of yam powder (Dioscorea spp) contribute to the prevention of cysteamine-induced duodenal ulcer in a rat model. Nutr Res. 2013 Aug;33(8):677-85. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.05.019. Epub 2013 Jul 8. PMID: 23890358.
  3. Son IS, Lee JS, Lee JY, Kwon CS. Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Yam (Dioscorea batatas Decne.) on Azoxymethane-induced Colonic Aberrant Crypt Foci in F344 Rats. Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 2014;19(2):82-88. doi:10.3746/pnf.2014.19.2.082
  4. ‌ Doeun D, Davaatseren M, Chung MS. Biogenic amines in foods. Food Science and Biotechnology. 2017;26(6):1463-1474. doi:10.1007/s10068-017-0239-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6049710/
  5. Go HK, Rahman Md, Kim GB, et al. Antidiabetic Effects of Yam (Dioscorea batatas) and Its Active Constituent, Allantoin, in a Rat Model of Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetes. Nutrients. 2015;7(10):8532-8544. doi:10.3390/nu7105411.
  6. “Food Fraud: How to Avoid Fake Olive Oil and Avocado Oil.” 05 Aug. 2020, https://foodrevolution.org/blog/food-fraud-olive-oil-and-avocado-oil/.
  7. “Study: Food fraud spoils value for all | Nebraska Today ….” 27 Jun. 2018, https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/study-food-fraud-spoils-value-for-all/.