Are dates high in histamine, and are they safe to eat if you have histamine intolerance? If you’ve ever bitten into a fresh date, you know how soft and sweet the flesh of the fruit is. In contrast, the pit is firm and crunchy.
Some people compare the flavor of the sweet interior flesh of a date to caramel candy, so it’s a dessert-like treat that’s more nutritious than processed candies and sweets.
As clients have told me, biting into a fresh date is almost as satisfying as biting into a brownie – and much healthier!
The date also has an interesting history; it was first cultivated more than 50 million years, making it one of the first cultivated fruits, dating back to ancient Greece. (1) The date remains popular today as a fruit that’s both tasty and nutritious.
But what if you have histamine intolerance? Are dates high in histamine, and are they likely to worsen your histamine sensitivity symptoms or increase your body’s histamine burden?
Let’s dig deeper and look at how dates are likely to affect histamine intolerance symptoms.
Dates and Histamine Intolerance: Are Dates High in Histamine?
Fresh dates are a low histamine food. However, most dates you buy in supermarkets are dried dates. Why are dried dates so common? The drying process concentrates the sugar in dates, enhancing the sweetness of the fruit and giving it a longer shelf life.
The longer shelf life is appealing to manufacturers, so you see more dried dates than fresh, juicy ones. Also, be aware that some grocery stores mislabel dried dates as fresh.
One way to tell if a date is dried is if the skin of the fruit is wrinkled. Fresh dates have a plump, smooth texture, while dried dates have an irregular texture from moisture loss and wrinkling.
So, take a closer look at the dates you’re buying and ensure they’re fresh. If you’re not sure, ask the store clerk.
Dried Dates and Dried Fruit Contain Histamine
If you have histamine intolerance, you probably know that dried fruits are high in histamine. For example, raisins, figs, dried apricots, dates, dried apples, and most other dried fruits can trigger histamine intolerance symptoms.
When fruits undergo the drying process, the moisture within evaporates, leaving behind a concentrated concoction of natural sugars.
While this may be a boon if you’re seeking an extra burst of sweetness (although not beneficial for your blood sugar), it also means that the histamine levels get a boost.
You see, histamine, that pesky compound responsible for allergy-like reactions, tends to accumulate in higher concentrations as the water content decreases.
So, as the fruit becomes drier and less succulent, histamine takes center stage.
Navigating Histamine Intolerance: Understanding the Impact of Dried Dates
As with most high-histamine foods, eating an occasional dried date may not trigger histamine intolerance symptoms, as long as your body’s total histamine burden is low.
If you’ve been eating a very low-histamine diet and munch on a date, your histamine burden is already low, and eating one dried date won’t cause a worsening of your symptoms.
There are lots of individual variations in how people with histamine intolerance manifest. For example, the type of symptoms, the severity, and how much high-histamine food you have to eat to develop symptoms may differ from someone else.
You may have more diamine oxidase (the enzyme that breaks down histamine) than another person, and may tolerate more foods that contain or trigger histamine than someone else because you have more capacity to remove histamine from your body.(2)
Each case of histamine intolerance is different.
But if you can find fresh dates that aren’t dried, they’re a suitable food on a low-histamine diet, since they’re low histamine and don’t trigger histamine release.
Therefore, they won’t increase your body’s histamine burden. The challenge may be finding fresh dates that are fresh and not dried.
Finding Low-Histamine Dates
Most supermarkets carry dried dates, as drying extends their shelf life by months. Fresh dates have a shelf-life as short as 2 weeks, while you can keep dried dates for 6 months or longer.
Dried dates also taste sweeter than fresh dates, since they lose water during drying, and water loss concentrates their natural sugar content.
Fresh dates are usually lighter in color too. Whereas dried dates are usually dark brown to black in color; fresh ones are usually yellow to light brown.
Getting fresh dates is important to ensure you’re getting fruit with the lowest histamine content. Your first stop: local farms. If you’re fortunate enough to live in areas like Southern California or Arizona, you might stumble upon the hidden gems during the early fall season.
Keep your ears attuned to whispers of farm stands and local markets, where the fragrant allure of fresh dates beckons. Some of these farms also ship fresh dates around the country, especially if you establish a relationship with them.
Types of Low-Histamine Dates
Two of the most popular types of fresh dates are the Medjool date, with a chewy caramel flavor, and the Degelet Noor, a bit firmer but with the same naturally sweet flavor. Both the Medjool date and the Degelet Noor share a common thread—they are low in histamine, making them suitable choices for individuals on a low-histamine diet.
So, whether you seek the chewy caramel indulgence of the Medjool or the firmer, naturally sweet notes of the Degelet Noor, you can be assured of a delicious and histamine-friendly experience. But choose fresh over dried.
Dates Are Nutritious Too
Beyond being a low-histamine fruit, there are other perks of eating dates in moderation. Dates are a potassium-rich fruit with a 3.5-ounce5-ounce~142g serving supplying 20% of the recommended daily intake. (3)
Plus, they’re packed with fiber, around 7 grams in a 3.5-ounce~142g serving. (3) Most people only get half the amount of fiber that experts recommend.
Like other fruits and vegetables, dates contain free-radical fighting antioxidants, including phenols (5), carotenoids (4), and flavonoids (5). Flavonoids play an important role in brain health and blood sugar regulation, while carotenoids may lower the risk of eye-related problems, like age-related macular degeneration.
Phenols have anti-inflammatory activity, along with their free radical scavenging benefits.
Dates Contain Sugar but Are Still Blood Sugar Friendly
If you have prediabetes or diabetes, along with histamine intolerance, you might wonder whether the natural sugar in dates is likely to spike your blood glucose level. Fortunately, research shows that eating dates in moderation doesn’t trigger blood sugar spikes like many sweet foods. (6)
Having dates with a meal that contains protein and fat will reduce the blood glucose response to dates even more. As with any food, it’s best to enjoy dates in moderation.
Histamine Intolerance and Dates: The Bottom Line
Are dates high in histamine? Fresh dates have a low histamine content, while dried dates have a higher level. If you introduce dates into your diet, only add a small amount and pay attention to how your body responds.
If you notice a worsening of your histamine intolerance symptoms, they may not be for you.
Keeping a food diary when you have histamine sensitivity is one of the most important things you can do to control histamine sensitivity symptoms. Everyone reacts differently to foods, and you won’t know how YOUR body responds unless you track responses.
So, keep tracking what you eat, especially when you add new food, like dates, to your diet.
- “The History, Science, and Uses of Dates – Tori Avey.” https://toriavey.com/dates-history-science-uses/.
- Comas-Basté O, Sánchez-Pérez S, Veciana-Nogués MT, Latorre-Moratalla M, Vidal-Carou MDC. Histamine Intolerance: The Current State of the Art. Biomolecules. 2020 Aug 14;10(8):1181. doi: 10.3390/biom10081181. PMID: 32824107; PMCID: PMC7463562.
- “Dates, medjool Nutrition Facts & Calories.” https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/7348/2.
- “The carotenoid pigments of the date – ScienceDirect.” 01 Jul. 1983, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0304423883900055.
- Rahmani AH, Aly SM, Ali H, Babiker AY, Srikar S, Khan AA. Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014 Mar 15;7(3):483-91. PMID: 24753740; PMCID: PMC3992385.
- Alkaabi JM, Al-Dabbagh B, Ahmad S, Saadi HF, Gariballa S, Ghazali MA. Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutr J. 2011 May 28;10:59. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-59. PMID: 21619670; PMCID: PMC3112406.