Is hummus high histamine? If you have histamine intolerance, the more you know about what you’re eating, the more you can keep your histamine tank from overfilling. Knowledge is power when you’re living with histamine intolerance. There are so many foods you can’t eat or must eat in a limited quantity to avoid triggering histamine intolerance symptoms. What about hummus?
Hummus is Nutrient-Dense
Hummus is a food that’s grown rapidly in popularity in the last few years. Hummus comes from the Arabic word for “chickpea.” That’s appropriate since chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus. Chickpeas are rich in fiber, protein, and iron. They’re also a good source of folate, potassium, and magnesium. You can use chickpeas in a variety of ways—from making hummus or falafel to adding them into salads or soups.
Hummus is popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa, where it’s a staple in home cooking and street food alike. It’s also a favorite of vegetarians and vegans because it’s high in protein and fiber. If you’ve ever eaten at a Middle Eastern Restaurant, you may have enjoyed hummus with your meal.
It’s a “stick to your ribs” kind of food too. If you’ve eaten hummus before, you might have noticed have filling it is! Plus, using hummus as a dip for vegetables is a good way to increase the quantity of low-histamine vegetables you eat. That’s a positive, right? But first, you need to know if hummus is likely to aggravate histamine intolerance symptoms.
Is Hummus High Histamine?
To know whether hummus is high in histamine, you must know what it’s made from. The most common ingredients in hummus are:
- Mashed chickpeas
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
Restaurants serve it hold or cold and may include a sprinkle of paprika on top .
So, let’s look at each ingredient and whether it can cause problems if you have histamine intolerance. First, let’s look at chickpeas, a type of legume in the same family as beans and lentils. Some research shows that legumes can contain variable quantities of histamine. (2) However, one study that looked at the histamine content of various foods, including chickpeas, found no detectable quantities of histamine in chickpeas. (3)
However, histamine is only one biogenic amine that could worsen histamine intolerance in some people. Research shows chickpeas can contain modest quantities of cadaverine and putrescine, two biogenic amines. So, chickpeas aren’t free of biogenic amines.
Other Ingredients in Hummus
Let’s look at other ingredients in hummus and how they could affect your body’s histamine burden.
Tahini is a sesame seed paste made from toasted ground sesame seeds. It’s usually mixed with oil, but sometimes also with lemon juice or other flavorings. Although some sites claim that tahini is a histamine liberator, I could find no scientific evidence to support this. Most people seem to tolerate tahini but I would only introduce small quantities at first and see how you respond.
It’s not uncommon to be allergic to sesame, sesame seeds, and tahini. Around 0.1% of the North American population is allergic to tahini and sesame seeds. (8) However, there is also evidence that sesame seeds have some anti-inflammatory activity. (9)
Olive oil is a source of fat that hummus makers add to make hummus creamier. Fortunately, extra-virgin olive oil is not high in histamine and has anti-inflammatory benefits that make it a good addition to a low-histamine diet. (4)
Garlic Is An Anti-Inflammatory Ingredient in Hummus
Another ingredient in hummus is garlic, a compound with sulfur compounds that give it potential health benefits. For example, studies show that garlic has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Plus, research shows it favorably affects biomarkers for cardiovascular disease, bone health, and metabolic health. (5) In addition, garlic contains sulfur compounds that may lower the risk of some types of cancer.
Therefore, garlic, unlike some high-histamine spices, is unlikely to worsen histamine intolerance symptoms. Be aware that garlic contains ingredients that interfere with blood clotting. Talk to your doctor before eating foods that contain it if you’re taking medications that affect blood clotting.
Other Ingredients in Hummus and Their Effect on Histamine Intolerance
Hummus often contains a squirt of lemon juice. That can be a problem. Why? Citrus fruits contain putrescine (3), a type of biogenic amine. Putrescine can block diamine oxidase (DAO), an enzyme that breaks down histamine, so your body can more easily eliminate it.
So, it’s best to avoid citrus fruits if you have histamine intolerance. Although hummus doesn’t contain a lot of lemon juice, it could be enough to trigger histamine intolerance symptoms if you’re histamine tank is already full from eating other foods that contain histamine.
Then there are the spices in hummus. Garlic is acceptable if you have histamine intolerance, but some commercial hummus contains paprika. Plus, some restaurants sprinkle paprika on top of hummus for color and added flavor.
About Paprika and Histamine Intolerance
Although there isn’t a study showing that paprika is high in histamine or biogenic amines, it can cause digestive tract irritation for some people – and there are some histamine intolerance sufferers who claim paprika triggers histamine intolerance symptoms for them.
Although there’s no strong science to support paprika being high in histamine, there’s anecdotal evidence that it can cause reactions in some people. People who eat paprika and get symptoms may be sensitive to hot spices and attribute their symptoms to histamine intolerance. Still, I urge caution with paprika. If you include it in your diet, do so in small amounts. Then see how you respond.
Buy Only the Freshest Hummus
As with most foods, you don’t want to leave them in the fridge too long before consuming them. That’s true of hummus too. Over time, bacteria that cause spoilage can produce histamine.
If you’re worried about buying histamine that isn’t as fresh as it should be, try making your own hummus at home. This way, you’ll know exactly what ingredients are going into your dip and how they’ve been prepared.
It’s usually best to make as much of the food you eat at home, so you know exactly what’s in it. You can find a variety of recipes for hummus online. If you buy packaged hummus, read the ingredient list carefully and make sure there’s nothing added to packaged hummus that could worsen histamine intolerance.
For example, you can find flavored hummus these days, including unconventional flavors like chocolate hummus. Chocolate hummus could be a problem since cacao powder, although low in histamine, contains other biogenic amines including tryptamine, tyramine, spermidine, and spermine.
So, be aware that flavored varieties may contain ingredients that could aggravate histamine intolerance. Read the label and ensure the ingredients are low histamine.
The Bottom Line
Is hummus high histamine? Most commercially made brands of hummus are not high in histamine and are safe if you have histamine intolerance. The one concern may be the tahini and lemon juice in hummus. See how you respond by consuming small amounts initially. Also, consider making your own so you control all the ingredients.
- Durak-Dados A, Michalski M, Osek J. Histamine and Other Biogenic Amines in Food. J Vet Res. 2020 Apr 30;64(2):281-288. doi: 10.2478/jvetres-2020-0029. PMID: 32587916; PMCID: PMC7305651.
- Halász A., Baráth Á., Simon-Sarkadi L., Holzapfel W.. Biogenic amines and their production by microorganisms in food. Food Sci Technol. 1994;5:42–48.
- Sánchez-Pérez S, Comas-Basté O, Rabell-González J, Veciana-Nogués MT, Latorre-Moratalla ML, Vidal-Carou MC. Biogenic Amines in Plant-Origin Foods: Are They Frequently Underestimated in Low-Histamine Diets? Foods. 2018 Dec 14;7(12):205. doi: 10.3390/foods7120205. PMID: 30558197; PMCID: PMC6306728.
- Santangelo C, Vari R, Scazzocchio B, De Sanctis P, Giovannini C, D’Archivio M, Masella R. Anti-inflammatory Activity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols: Which Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases? Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2018;18(1):36-50. doi: 10.2174/1871530317666171114114321. PMID: 29141574. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29141574/
- Ansary J, Forbes-Hernández TY, Gil E, Cianciosi D, Zhang J, Elexpuru-Zabaleta M, Simal-Gandara J, Giampieri F, Battino M. Potential Health Benefit of Garlic Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Jul 15;9(7):619. doi: 10.3390/antiox9070619. PMID: 32679751; PMCID: PMC7402177.
- “Bioactive amines and phenolic compounds in cocoa beans … – ScienceDirect.” 01 Aug. 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814617301930.
- 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.
- Adatia A, Clarke AE, Yanishevsky Y, Ben-Shoshan M. Sesame allergy: current perspectives. J Asthma Allergy. 2017 Apr 27;10:141-151. doi: 10.2147/JAA.S113612. PMID: 28490893; PMCID: PMC5414576. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414576/.
- Khadem Haghighian M, Alipoor B, Malek Mahdavi A, Eftekhar Sadat B, Asghari Jafarabadi M, Moghaddam A. Effects of sesame seed supplementation on inflammatory factors and oxidative stress biomarkers in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Acta Med Iran. 2015;53(4):207-13. PMID: 25871017.