Fruit is important for a healthy well-balanced diet. They’re rich in antioxidants and other compounds with anti-inflammatory activity. Fruit is naturally sweet and a healthier alternative to foods that contain added sugar.
But if you are following a histamine reduction diet for histamine intolerance, you should be aware of high histamine fruits, so you can make smarter choices and avoid aggravating your histamine intolerance symptoms.
Many fruits are low in histamine and are not histamine liberators, meaning they won’t increase your body’s histamine burden. There are exceptions though. In this article, we’ll look at fruits that are higher in histamine.
In a future article, we’ll do an in-depth dive into low histamine fruit and the healthiest choices are if you have histamine intolerance. Some fruits, like blueberries, even have antihistamine activity.
High Histamine Fruit May Contain Histamine or Other Biogenic Amines
When determining high-histamine fruit, you must consider whether a particular fruit contains biogenic amines other than histamine. Some examples include cadaverine, spermine, spermidine, tyramine, and putrescine. Although biogenic amines aren’t histamine, they can have some of the negative effects of histamine. For example, putrescine may interfere with histamine breakdown.
In addition, a study found that putrescine and cadaverine, two types of biogenic amines, are toxic to intestinal cells at amounts found in food. Therefore, it’s best to avoid foods that are high in biogenic amines if you have histamine intolerance. (2)
Let’s look at some high-histamine fruits and fruits that could increase your body’s histamine burden if you have histamine intolerance.
They’re a wonderful source of vitamin C but eating citrus fruits can aggravate histamine intolerance symptoms. Citrus fruits are not inherently high in histamine, but they may still increase your body’s histamine burden.
On the plus side, a study in rats even found that extracts from citrus peel blocked the release of histamine from peritoneal cells in rats and had anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory activity. (1)
But if you have an intolerance to histamines, you should still avoid citrus fruit or eating citrus peel (although dark chocolate-covered citrus peel is delicious).
Research shows citrus fruit contains significant quantities of putrescine (a biogenic amine) and mandarins have one of the highest quantities of putrescine of the citrus fruits’ researchers tested. (3)
Putrescine is a concern because there’s some evidence that it blocks activity of the diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme that breaks down histamine. So, despite not being inherently high in histamine, high-putrescine foods like citrus fruits could contribute to histamine overload if you have histamine intolerance.
Fortunately, putrescine and cadaverine inhibit histamine breakdown only at high concentrations.(4)
They’re nutrient-dense, naturally low in sugar, beautiful to look at, and tasty too. But strawberries are a fruit to avoid if you have histamine intolerance. Why?
Strawberries are a histamine liberator, meaning they can increase your body’s histamine burden despite not containing high levels of histamine. That’s why strawberries are a berry you should add to your list of high-histamine fruit to eliminate from your diet.
The longer those berries sit in the fridge, the more histamine and other biogenic amines build up. The number of biogenic amines in fresh foods is lower than in foods that you buy at the grocery stores and let them sit around before eating them. (10)
If you like the taste of berries, there are lower histamine choices such as blueberries. Choose the freshest ones possible and eat them quickly before they ripen too much. If you can’t eat them fast, buy frozen ones.
An avocado is a fruit that technically belongs to the berry family. It’s considered a “drupe,” which is a fleshy fruit with a single seed like a peach, mango, or olive.
The avocado is a nutrient dense fruit with a creamy texture that makes it a popular addition to salads. But is the avocado a high-histamine fruit?
Avocado contains significant quantities of histamine, enough to trigger histamine sensitivity symptoms. (7) The also contain another biogenic amine, putrescine.
So, despite their nutritional benefits and delicious taste and texture, avocados don’t belong in a low-histamine diet.
Avocados are also not an uncommon cause of oral allergy syndrome. People with this condition develop mouth itching around and, in their mouth, when they eat a trigger food like avocado. (12)
Bananas are one if the softest and most delicious fruits. Many people add them to smoothies for a touch of sweetness and to add texture. But approach bananas with caution if you have histamine intolerance.
Bananas are not a high-histamine fruit inherently, but like strawberries, they’re a histamine liberator.
It’s best to avoid not only histamine fruit but fruit high in other biogenic amines and histamine liberators. Bananas meet those criteria, as they also contain other biogenic amines. (5,6)
The age and ripeness of a banana matters too. Riper bananas are more likely to trigger histamine intolerance symptoms than munching on a green banana.
As bananas ripen, bacteria increase and produce more histamine. If you don’t want to give up bananas, choose an unripe one and monitor your symptoms after eating it to see how you respond. Some people with histamine sensitivity do okay eating an occasional unripe banana.
Although there are low-histamine fruits, buy them fresh. A study found that canned fruit contains higher levels of histamine. (9) They also found that the amount of histamine in canned fruit increased with storage time and with the temperature of storage.
It goes without saying that you should avoid canned citrus fruit since you get a double whammy – a histamine-liberating fruit in a can. Also avoid, canned fruit juice.
Another concern is that most cans are lined with bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disrupting chemical. So, canned food has other concerns beyond its histamine content.
- Avoid citrus fruits, avocado, and strawberries.
- Avoid fruit in a can, fruit juice, or dried fruit
- Buy the fresh fruit possible
- Keep a food journal to monitor how various fruits and other food affect your symptoms
Also, discover some low-histamine snacks that are quick and easy .
- Antihistamine release and anti-inflammatory activities of aqueous extracts of citrus fruits peels. September 2013Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine 13(3). DOI:10.1007/s13596-012-0093-z
- del Rio, B., Redruello, B., Linares, D.M. et al. The biogenic amines putrescine and cadaverine show in vitro cytotoxicity at concentrations that can be found in foods. Sci Rep 9, 120 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36239-w.
- Sánchez-Pérez S, Comas-Basté O, Veciana-Nogués MT, Latorre-Moratalla ML, Vidal-Carou MC. Low-Histamine Diets: Is the Exclusion of Foods Justified by Their Histamine Content? Nutrients. 2021;13(5):1395. doi:10.3390/nu13051395.
- Hui J.Y., Taylor S.L. Inhibition of in Vivo Histamine Metabolism in Rats by Foodborne and Pharmacologic Inhibitors of Diamine Oxidase, Histamine N-Methyltransferase, and Monoamine Oxidase. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 1985;81:241–249. doi: 10.1016/0041-008X(85)90160-7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3933141/
- Singh B, Singh JP, Kaur A, Singh N. Bioactive compounds in banana and their associated health benefits – A review. Food Chem. 2016 Sep 1;206:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.033. Epub 2016 Mar 11. PMID: 27041291.
- Tanasa V, MOISE D, Stanca M. Separation and quantification of biogenic amines in bananas by high performance liquid chromatography. ResearchGate. Published October 2015. Accessed February 23, 2022.
- ”f96 Avocado | Allergy & Autoimmune Disease.” https://www.thermofisher.com/diagnostic-education/hcp/gb/en/resource-center/allergen-encyclopedia/whole-allergens.html?key=f96.
- 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 February 23, 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
- Weremfo A, Eduafo MK, Gyimah HA, Abassah-Oppong S. Monitoring the Levels of Biogenic Amines in Canned Fish Products Marketed in Ghana. Journal of Food Quality. 2020;2020:1-6. doi:10.1155/2020/2684235
- Peng CY, Tsai EM, Kao TH, Lai TC, Liang SS, Chiu CC, Wang TN. Canned food intake and urinary bisphenol a concentrations: a randomized crossover intervention study. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Sep;26(27):27999-28009. doi: 10.1007/s11356-019-05534-y. Epub 2019 Jul 27. PMID: 31352597.
- “How to Manage an Avocado Allergy: Avocado Substitutes and More.” 12 Dec. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/how-to-cope-with-an-avocado-allergy.