Is almond milk low histamine? If you’ve ever experienced the frustrating symptoms of histamine intolerance, you know how challenging it can be to navigate the vast array of food options and choose ones that won’t worsen your symptoms.
Unfortunately, not all food is created equal, and for those with histamine intolerance, the wrong choice can quickly lead to discomfort and misery.
While pasteurized dairy milk might not be a high-histamine food, it can still pose a problem for some people. (However, fermented milk IS high in histamine) That’s why many people with histamine intolerance avoid it. Plus, you may have other reasons to avoid dairy foods.
If you’re allergic to dairy, even the smallest amount of dairy can trigger a cascade of unpleasant and potentially life-threatening symptoms. And if you’re lactose intolerant, your body can’t properly digest the lactose in milk, leading to digestive upset like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
One popular option dairy-free milk option on store shelves these days is almond milk. If you’re looking for a milk substitute, you might wonder whether almond milk is low histamine and whether you can enjoy it without triggering symptoms.
Almond milk is not high in histamine, but almonds contain other amines (5) that could aggravate histamine intolerance symptoms in some people.
Plus, almond milk contains other plant compounds that can be problematic for some people. Finally, be aware of the additives in almond milk. Fortunately, you can avoid these additives by reading labels and choosing wisely.
What Is in Almond Milk?
Almond milk is one of the most popular non-dairy milk alternatives on the market, but you need to know what’s in it before pouring it on your oatmeal.
If you were to make almond milk at home, you would soak raw almonds in water for several hours to soften them up. Then, you blend the almonds and water together to create a smooth, creamy mixture.
Next, you would strain the mixture through a fine mesh cloth to remove any remaining solids, leaving behind a silky, smooth liquid perfect for drinking or adding to your favorite recipes. Manufacturers have processing equipment that makes this faster and easier.
To enhance the flavor and extend the shelf life, some manufacturers add sweeteners like cane sugar, vanilla extract, or other natural flavors. Then they package it into a sterile carton and ship it off to eager consumers looking for an alternative to dairy milk.
Here’s the kicker. Commercial almond milk contains few almonds, as manufacturers add thickening agents and fillers, making most of the beverage water, thickening agents, emulsifiers, and a few almonds. So, you aren’t getting a lot of almonds when you drink almond milk.
Most manufacturers won’t tell you how many almonds are in a glass of almond milk, but sources say as little as 2%.(2) Most almond milk contains a thickener and an emulsifier, usually lecithin.
Some Thickening Agents in Almond Milk May Be Problematic for Histamine Intolerance
When considering whether almond milk is low histamine, think about not just the almonds, but the additives. One that may be problematic if you have histamine intolerance is carrageenan.
What is carrageenan? It’s thickening agent derived from red seaweed. Manufacturers add it to some processed foods, including almond milk, to improve texture and stability. However, studies have linked carrageenan to health concerns, including digestive issues and inflammation. (1)
Research shows that carrageenan can trigger inflammation in the digestive tract, leading to a range of issues such as bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It has also been linked to intestinal ulcers and even colon cancer in animal studies.(1) Furthermore, it may trigger histamine intolerance symptoms in some people.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still sees carrageenan as safe and has it on its list of approved ingredients. However, the National Organic Standards Board no longer allows carrageenan in products labeled as USDA organic. (3)
Because of questions about this thickener, choose products that don’t contain it. Fortunately, many companies are removing carrageenan from products to meet customer demand. You can find lists of almond milk that are free of carrageenan online.
Other Thickeners in Almond Milk and Histamine Intolerance
When manufacturers replace carrageenan in almond milk, they usually add xanthan gum. While xanthan gum may be less harmful than carrageenan, some people also have concerns about this additive.
At this point, there’s no evidence that xanthan gum is harmful to the lining of the gut, causes intestinal issues, or aggravates histamine intolerance. (5) Still, it’s wise to limit the quantities of additives like this by avoiding ultra-processed foods as much as possible.
Other Plant Compounds in Almonds and Almond Milk
Almonds contain phytic acid, oxalates, and lectins. Oxalates and lectins reduce mineral absorption, and oxalates increase the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones.(4)
But manufactured almond milk doesn’t contain a lot of almonds, so you’re not consuming a lot of these compounds when you drink almond milk. But if you make it at home from fresh almonds, the amount you’re getting is higher.
Is Almond Milk Low Histamine and Should You Drink It?
Almond milk low in histamine, but may contain other amines. If you buy manufactured almond milk, free of carrageenan, you’re not getting much exposure, since there are so few almonds in almond milk.
On the other hand, if you made it at home, it would have a higher almond and could be more problematic if you have histamine intolerance. The risk of negative effects from these compounds is likely to be much lower than if you were eating whole almonds in large quantities.
So, you may have no problem tolerating modest quantities of almond milk. The key is to avoid almond milk with carrageenan (read the label) and drink it only in moderation. Try drinking a small amount, and track your symptoms by keeping a food diary.
In my experience with patients, most are able to tolerate commercial almond milk that’s free of carrageenan, but as with all foods, don’t overdo it. We all react differently to foods, and what triggers histamine intolerance symptoms for one person may not for another.
How you respond to foods also depends on the totality of your diet. So, keep a food diary, so you know how your body responds to foods, like almond milk, and so you’ll know how much you can drink without triggering histamine intolerance symptoms.
- Tobacman JK. Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments. Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Oct;109(10):983-94. doi: 10.1289/ehp.01109983. PMID: 11675262; PMCID: PMC1242073. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11675262/
- “How Many Almonds In Almond Milk? Perhaps Just 2%.” 06 Feb. 2019, https://superfoodly.com/how-many-almonds-in-almond-milk/.
- “Carrageenan: Safety, Side Effects, and More – Healthline.” https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/carrageenan.
- “Are anti-nutrients harmful? – The Nutrition Source.” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/.
- (“LOW AMINE DIET for PATIENTS with GASTROINTESTINAL NEURO-ENDOCRINE TUMORS” n.d.)
- “Xanthan Gum — Is This Food Additive Healthy or Harmful?”. 2023. Www.Healthline.Com. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xanthan-gum#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2.