Is Zucchini Low Histamine?

Is zucchini low histamine? If you suffer with histamine intolerance, what you eat matters. By avoiding food triggers, you can minimize your symptoms. In simple terms, zucchini is low histamine, meaning that, for most people, it won’t increase their body’s histamine level or worsen histamine intolerance symptoms.

But before adding zucchini to your shopping cart, let’s dig a little deeper. Zucchini contains some components that could be problematic for some people with histamine intolerance or other food sensitivities. 

Zucchini Is a Nutrient-Dense Vegetable

Zucchini is a popular vegetable in Mediterranean cuisine, one of the healthiest and most versatile diets in the world. People add it raw to salads or saute it as a side dish. The reality is there are many ways to enjoy zucchini, either raw or cooked. A side dish of sauteed zucchini, for example, is a healthier substitute for potatoes. Zucchini also has less impact on blood sugar than potatoes. So, enjoying a side dish of zucchini is better for your metabolic health than eating a plate of potatoes.

Plus, zucchini is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, potassium, and magnesium and is low in carbohydrates, fat, and calories. (6) It contains natural carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein that are beneficial for eye health. (7) Studies show these nutrients may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration; a common cause of visual decline related to aging.

Zucchini and Histamine Intolerance: Other Amines and Components in Zucchini May Be a Problem

If you have histamine intolerance, you know that foods that trigger histamine release can trigger or worsen histamine intolerance symptoms. Since zucchini is not naturally high in histamine, it won’t increase your body’s histamine load. Also reassuring is the lack of evidence that zucchini affects diamine oxidase, the main enzyme that breaks down histamine.

But here’s why you should be cautious about zucchini, until you know how your body responds to it. When you have histamine intolerance, other amines, other than histamine, may trigger histamine intolerance symptoms too. According to a chemical chart put out by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Allergy Unit, or RHPAH, in Australia, zucchini is a food that contains amines, salicylate, and glutamate. (2) The data comes from lab testing carried out by the allergy unit and their experience working with clients.

Zucchini Allergies Occur Too

Therefore, reconsider eating zucchini if you have sensitivities to these chemical components in food. Plus, scientists have discovered key proteins in zucchini that trigger allergic reactions in some people. The proteins they identified are also in celery and birch pollen. People with allergies to birch pollen may also experience allergic reactions to zucchini and celery due to cross-reactivity. (1,4)

zucchini may contain other amines

Most people don’t think of vegetables, like celery and zucchini, as foods that people are commonly allergic to, but zucchini and celery allergies occur. However, they don’t top the list of foods people are allergic to. Yet people with histamine intolerance who don’t have allergies to these foods can often tolerate zucchini without triggering histamine intolerance symptoms. But if you have other food sensitivities, especially sensitivity to other amines, glutamate, or salicylate, you could have problems if you eat zucchini. 

Zucchini, Histamine, and Oral Allergy Syndrome

Although allergies to zucchini aren’t very widespread, localized reactions to it are. Some people have a condition called oral allergy syndrome, a localized form of allergic reaction that affects the lips, mouth, and throat. People with oral allergy syndrome react to the proteins in a variety of fruits and vegetables. When they eat them, they experience itching and swelling around your mouth, lips, tongue, and throat.

Some people experience oral allergy symptoms when they eat zucchini. Oral allergy stimulates a local release of histamine but doesn’t usually cause systemic allergy symptoms. However, in rare cases, it can cause life-threatening swelling of the throat.  (3,5) Oral allergy syndrome is more common in people with seasonal allergies. Cooking or peeling zucchini and other fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of localized allergic reactions from oral allergy syndrome.

raw zucchini

The Bottom Line

Is zucchini low histamine? Zucchini is not naturally high in histamine, but it may contain other amines, as components like glutamate and salicylates, that cause reactions. If you’re sensitive to any of these components in food, be cautious about eating zucchini. Introduce small quantities into your diet. Keep a food journal and document any symptoms you experience when you eat zucchini.

By now, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms of histamine intolerance and the effect histamine release has on your body. Histamine intolerance symptoms vary with the individual. Some you should be aware of:

  • Digestive issues
  • Hives or rash
  • Headache
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety

If you experience these symptoms, note the food that triggered it, and avoid it in the future.

Although most people with histamine intolerance can safely eat zucchini, a small number cannot be due to sensitivity to other components in this veggie from the squash family. If you can eat it though, it’s a tasty and nutritious vegetable to put on your plate. One of the healthiest ways to prepare zucchini is to saute it lightly in olive oil. Olive oil is safe if you have histamine intolerance and the healthy fats in olive oil help you better absorb fat soluble nutrients, including the carotenoids, in zucchini. Now, find out whether green beans are high histamine.

References:

1.    Vieths S, Lüttkopf D, Reindl J, Anliker MD, Wüthrich B, Ballmer-Weber BK. Allergens in celery and zucchini. Allergy. 2002;57 Suppl 72:100-5. doi: 10.1034/j.1398-9995.57.s72.20.x. PMID: 12144566.

2.    “Foods High In Salicylates, Amines and Glutamates.” 25 Nov. 2014, https://alessandraedwards.com/mental-health/foods-high-in-salicylates-amines-and-glutamates/.

3.    “Oral allergy syndrome – PMC – PubMed Central (PMC).” 08 Aug. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917934/.

4.    Reindl J, Anliker MD, Karamloo F, Vieths S, Wüthrich B. Allergy caused by ingestion of zucchini (Cucurbita pepo): characterization of allergens and cross-reactivity to pollen and other foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Aug;106(2):379-85. doi: 10.1067/mai.2000.107602. PMID: 10932084.

5.    “Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.” https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/oral-allergy-syndrome-oas.

6.    “12 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Zucchini.” 19 Feb. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zucchini-benefits.

7.    Fakhreddine Houhou, Cordero T, Verónica Aragonés, José-Antonio Daròs. Carotenoid and tocopherol fortification of zucchini fruits using a viral RNA vector. ResearchGate. Published February 18, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2022. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349421781_Carotenoid_and_tocopherol_fortification_of_zucchini_fruits_using_a_viral_RNA_vector