Is granola low histamine? If you’re following a low histamine diet to manage conditions like histamine intolerance or mast cell activation syndrome, the breakfast aisle can be a tricky place to navigate. Popular “healthy” breakfast options like kefir, strawberries, and even citrus can be surprisingly high in histamines.
So, what about granola – can it be a low histamine option to start your day. The good news is that with careful selection of ingredients and preparation methods, granola can be low in histamine.
Whether granola is low in histamine depends on its ingredients. Let’s look at what to look for when shopping for a low-histamine granola and how to choose one that won’t boost your body’s histamine burden.
Oats Are the Best Base for Low-Histamine Granola
Oats themselves are naturally low in histamines and even contain ingredients, like beta-glucan, that have anti-inflammatory activity. (1) If you also have gluten sensitivity, you’ll need to choose oats or oat-based granola made in a gluten-free facility, as cross-contamination can be an issue. (2) Certified gluten-free oats are well-tolerated by most with histamine intolerance and make the perfect low histamine granola base.
Choose Granola That Doesn’t Contain High-Histamine Nuts or Seeds
Since some tree nuts can contain amines that aggravate histamine intolerance, be cautious with granola that contains tree nuts. However, not all tree nuts are off the table if you have histamine intolerance.
The tree nuts least likely to aggravate histamine intolerance symptoms are pecans, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. Although not a tree nut, most people with histamine intolerance can handle peanuts in moderation.
Another common ingredient in granola are seeds. Although sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are low in histamine, they may contain other biogenic amines. Fortunately, consuming sunflower and pumpkin seeds in moderation is usually not a problem if you have histamine intolerance.
However, you should introduce any type of nut or seed into your diet slowly and cautiously and monitor your response. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds may develop other biogenic amines over time if you store them too long before eating them.
Avoid Granola That Contains Dried Fruit
Another common ingredient in granola is dried fruit. Some types of dried can be high in histamines since the drying process causes histamine levels to rise as the fruit ages. Raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, and other dried fruit tend to be offenders.
Therefore, granola that contains ingredients like raisins, cranberries, chopped dried apples, etc. aren’t compatible with a low histamine diet. Those histamines can trigger unpleasant symptoms like hives, headaches, digestive issues and more in those with intolerance.
Your best bet is to choose plain granolas without dried fruit mix-ins. Then feel free to add your own fresh fruit like blueberries on top to enjoy with your low-histamine granola. Choosing fresh over dried helps you keep your histamine level in check. Also, select granola made with low-histamine fruit and avoid ones higher in histamine, like strawberries and citrus fruit.
Granola Sweetened with Maple Syrup
Trading out refined sugar for a natural sweetener like maple syrup helps keep granola’s histamine content low. And it tastes delicious too! Unlike plain white sugar, maple syrup brings a depth of flavor that dances on your tongue. It adds lovely caramel notes that pair perfectly with the toasted oats and nuts.
And maple syrup isn’t just delicious – it’s less processed than regular sugar. Therefore, it retains beneficial antioxidants and minerals that can help stabilize mast cells to decrease histamine release. If you buy pure maple syrup, it should be free of funky preservatives and additives your body might react to.
Be aware that there’s a lot of “fake” maple syrup out there. If it’s called pancake syrup, it’s not real maple syrup. Many storebought granolas that claim to contain maple syrup may not have the real stuff. That’s why it’s tricky to buy storebought granola.
Also, be aware that maple syrup can also cause blood sugar spikes, just as white sugar can. However, studies show it’s easier on your blood sugar than refined sugar. (3) Still, use it in moderation, especially if you have diabetes or prediabetes.
Avoid Granola Made with High-Histamine Spices
Many spices are high in histamines, making things like cinnamon a poor choice for low histamine granola. Vanilla extract is a safer bet to add flavor. Just make sure that any storebought granola you buy is free of spices other than vanilla. It should also be real vanilla extract, rather than synthetic. Artificial vanilla which may contain added ingredients that could worsen histamine intolerance symptoms. So, stick to granola flavored with real vanilla extract minus other spices.
Consider Making Your Own Low-Histamine Granola
Making your own granola at home allows for even better control of the ingredients and ensures you’re eating low-histamine granola. You can use certified gluten-free oats, choose the freshest low-histamine nuts and seeds, sweeten with maple syrup, add vanilla for flavor, and avoid adding dried fruit.
Baking at a low temp also helps maintain that low histamine status. If you make your own, bake it at no higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit and stop when it’s lightly browned. Baking at higher temperatures and for long periods of time also creates harmful compounds called acrylamides that are linked with cancer. (4)
Here’s a Low-Histamine Granola Recipe You Can Try at Home:
Low-Histamine Maple Pecan Granola
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 300°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pecans, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt until thoroughly combined.
- Spread the mixture evenly across the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
- Feel free to use certified gluten-free oats if needed.
- For nut-free, substitute chopped sunflower seeds for the pecans.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
You Can Enjoy Low-Histamine Granola on a Low-Histamine Diet
Is granola low histamine? With some adjustments to ingredients and preparation, granola can absolutely be part of a low histamine, anti-inflammatory diet. However, it’s safer to make your own, so you control the ingredients. For best results, opt for simple ingredients like oats, limited nuts/seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla. Bake gently, skip the dried fruit, and enjoy a nourishing low histamine start to your day!
- Kim SJ, Jung CW, Anh NH, Kim SW, Park S, Kwon SW, Lee SJ. Effects of Oats (Avena sativa L.) on Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Nutr. 2021 Aug 27;8:722866. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.722866. PMID: 34513905; PMCID: PMC8429797. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.722866/full
- Wieser H, Segura V, Ruiz-Carnicer Á, Sousa C, Comino I. Food Safety and Cross-Contamination of Gluten-Free Products: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2021 Jun 29;13(7):2244. doi: 10.3390/nu13072244. PMID: 34210037; PMCID: PMC8308338. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34210037/
- Philippe St-Pierre, Geneviève Pilon, Valérie Dumais, Christine Dion, Mathilde Dubois, Pascal Dubé, Yves Desjardins, and André Marette. “Comparative Analysis of Maple Syrup to Other Natural Sweeteners and Evaluation of Their Metabolic Responses in Healthy Rats.” Journal of Functional Foods 11 (November 1, 2014): 460–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2014.10.001.
- Perera, Dilini N, Geeth G Hewavitharana, and S B Navaratne. “Comprehensive Study on the Acrylamide Content of High Thermally Processed Foods.” BioMed Research International 2021 (February 23, 2021): 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6258508.