Everyone needs an occasional snack, but if you have histamine intolerance, you must consider whether your chosen snack will trigger histamine intolerance symptoms. Snacks vary widely in the amount of histamine they contain.
Some snacks are very high in histamine, while others, like some veggies and fruits (with exceptions), are low in histamine and may even reduce symptoms by reigning in inflammation.
So, what should you do when hunger strikes?
Fortunately, there are low-histamine snacks that can satisfy your hankering without trigger histamine sensitivity symptoms. Hopefully, this post will make you more aware of what you can snack on when you’re hungry or need extra energy.
A Bowl of Fresh Blueberries
Blueberries are a low histamine snack and one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Not only are these brilliant blue orbs low in histamine, but research also shows they have anti-inflammatory properties. (1)
The deep blue color of blueberries comes from compounds called anthocyanins, antioxidants that help tame cell damage and inflammation. Plus, they a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. (2)
Although blueberries contain natural sugar, their high fiber content means you should get a blood sugar spike when you enjoy this nutritious snack. Studies show blueberries may reduce insulin resistance and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. (3)
Plus, bowl of blueberries blows ultra-processed snacks out of the water when it comes to nutrition. Those vitamin-packed little orbs taste delicious just as they are, or you can add them to your morning bowl of oats for a highly nutritious morning meal. Oats are another low-histamine food.
Apple with Macadamia Nut Butter
If you’re looking for a balanced low histamine snack after a workout or any other time, look no further than an apple with a layer of macadamia nut butter on it.
Apples are a low histamine fruit packed with nutrients including vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin, and fiber to help you feel full and stay full longer.
Beyond being a low histamine fruit, apples contain quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits. Early studies suggest that quercetin could help balance the immune system and tame the allergic response. (5)
The type of fiber in apples, called pectin, also supports the growth of gut-friendly bacteria that help keep your gut lining healthy. (4)
When you spread macadamia nut on top of an apple, you get added protein and heart-healthy fats called monounsaturated fats.
Macadamia nuts are the best source of monounsaturated nuts in the nut family. Plus, they a low-histamine nut in contrast to some tree nuts. Plus, they have heart health benefits.
A randomized-controlled trial found that a diet rich in macadamia nuts lowered LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol in adults with mildly elevated cholesterol. (6) These changes could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Apples supply fiber and healthy carbohydrates while macadamia butter provides healthy fats and protein. It’s a nutritious and tasty combo that will give you sustained energy for hours.
Low-Histamine Snacks: Homemade Zucchini Chips
Zucchini is low histamine food and low in carbohydrates. They’re a tasty (and healthy) alternative to potato chips too and won’t raise your blood sugar to the same degree as potato chips. Plus, it’s easy to make homemade zucchini chips at home in your oven. Here’s how:
- Preheat your oven to 250 F.
- Place two parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Cut zucchini into thin slices using a mandolin slicer, food processor or sharp knife. Thinner cuts will be crispier.
- Lay the zucchini slices on the baking sheets so they aren’t overlapping. Spray lightly with olive oil spray and lightly sprinkle the slices with salt.
- Bake in your preheated oven until they are golden and crispy. Baking time will vary with the thickness of your slices but should take an hour or more.
- Check them at 30 minutes. If the top side is golden brown, flip them over to ensure both sides are cooked evenly.
The advantage of using a lower temperature and longer baking time is it makes the chips crisper. Another option is to use a dehydrator to make zucchini chips.
Now you have a crunchy, low histamine snack that’s easy to make at home when a snack craving strikes. And did you know zucchini is rich in carotenoids, a type of antioxidant? (7)
The antioxidants in zucchini include beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, compounds that may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss later in life. (8) That’s a nice perk, right?
Chia seeds are another low-histamine snack packed with nutrients. You might already add chia seeds to your morning bowl of oats, but they also make a delicious pudding.
Plus, these tiny seeds are packed with fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants. Two tablespoons of chia seeds supply around 18% of your daily calcium requirements, a mineral important for bone health.
When you mix chia seeds with liquid, it creates a gelatinous texture that’s ideal for a pudding snack. The tiny seeds absorb liquid, making the pudding thicker and smoother than many other puddings, which can be sticky and gummy.
Here’s how to make low-histamine chia pudding:
- Mix 4.5 tablespoons of chia seeds with a cup of coconut or almond milk and a tablespoon of vanilla extract.
- Add a tablespoon of honey and mix the seeds and liquid well
- Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 3 hours until it thickens
You can top the pudding with blueberries for more flavor and nutrients. It’s a delicious low histamine snack or dessert and a tasty way to get calcium, protein, and fiber.
You’ll need something to drink with your chia pudding and zucchini chips and rooibos tea fits the bill. Rooibos tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the rooibos plant. The name rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans. It is also known as red tea or red bush tea.
Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free, low in tannins and rich in antioxidants, making it a healthy choice if you have histamine intolerance. Rooibos contains two key flavonoids called aspalathin and notofagin that are strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory activity too. (9)
Although not extensively studied yet, some experts believe the flavonoid in rooibos tea could be an effective treatment for allergies. (10) It also contains quercetin, a bioflavonoid that prevents the release of histamine from mast cells. So, it’s possible that rooibos tea has unique benefits for allergy sufferers and those with histamine intolerance.
You can buy rooibos tea in health-food stores, grocery stores, and online. If possible, buy rooibos tea in loose-leaf form rather than a bag. Tea bags can be a source of microplastics (13), and some are bleached, which could increase the chlorine content of your cup of tea.
I buy loose leaf rooibos tea leaves and steep them in cold water over night. In the morning, I strain the leaves through an unbleached filter to separate the leaves from the tea. Then, I add a small amount of liquid Stevia for added sweetness. Stevia is low histamine and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes.
Rooibos Tea is a Caffeine-Free Coffee Alternative
Rooibos is a good caffeine-free alternative to coffee. It’s a beverage I recommend to patients who have a problem sleeping when they consume caffeine in the afternoon. If you have a history of a hormone-sensitive cancer, like breast cancer, be aware that rooibos tea contains phytoestrogens. (11)
It’s not clear what effects these weak estrogens might have on cancers that grow in response to estrogen. The effects could be harmful or beneficial.
Also, don’t overdo the rooibos tea. There are a few case reports in the literature of being developing liver toxicity from drinking very large amounts (12), quantities the average person wouldn’t consume.
The Bottom Line
It’s challenging to come up with low-histamine snacks that are healthy. Although the low-histamine foods in the snacks above aren’t problematic for most people with histamine intolerance, keep a food diary, so you’ll know how the foods you eat affect your histamine intolerance symptoms. Keep snacking healthy, too! Now, find out whether yams are a high histamine food and explore whether hummus is high histamine.
- Torri E, Lemos M, Caliari V, Kassuya CA, Bastos JK, Andrade SF. Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties of blueberry extract (Vaccinium corymbosum). J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;59(4):591-6. doi: 10.1211/jpp.59.4.0015. PMID: 17430644.
- “Blueberries, raw nutrition facts and analysis..” https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Blueberries%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html.
- Antioxidants (Basel). 2016 Dec; 5(4): 44.Published online 2016 Nov 29. doi: 10.3390/antiox5040044.
- “Apples | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/apples/.
- Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016 May 12;21(5):623. doi: 10.3390/molecules21050623. PMID: 27187333; PMCID: PMC6273625.
- Griel AE, Cao Y, Bagshaw DD, Cifelli AM, Holub B, Kris-Etherton PM. A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. J Nutr. 2008 Apr;138(4):761-7. doi: 10.1093/jn/138.4.761. PMID: 18356332. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18356332/
- Blanco-Díaz MT, Del Río-Celestino M, Martínez-Valdivieso D, Font R. Use of visible and near-infrared spectroscopy for predicting antioxidant compounds in summer squash (Cucurbita pepo ssp pepo). Food Chem. 2014 Dec 1;164:301-8. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.05.019. Epub 2014 May 15. PMID: 24996338. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24996338/
- Zhou H, Zhao X, Johnson EJ, et al. Serum Carotenoids and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Chinese Population Sample. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science. 2011;52(7):4338. doi:10.1167/iovs.10-6519
- Baba H, Ohtsuka Y, Haruna H, Lee T, Nagata S, Maeda M, Yamashiro Y, Shimizu T. Studies of anti-inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea in rats. Pediatr Int. 2009 Oct;51(5):700-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2009.02835.x. Epub 2009 Mar 27. PMID: 19419525.
- “Benefits of Drinking Rooibos Tea: Does It Help Allergies ….” 11 Feb. 2016, https://www.edubloxtutor.com/benefits-of-drinking-rooibos-tea-does-it-help-allergies/.
- Shimamura N, Miyase T, Umehara K, Warashina T, Fujii S. Phytoestrogens from Aspalathus linearis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Jun;29(6):1271-4.
- Engels M, Wang C, Matoso A, Maidan E, Wands J. Tea not Tincture: Hepatotoxicity Associated with Rooibos Herbal Tea. ACG Case Reports Journal. 2013;1(1):58-60. doi:10.14309/crj.2013.20
- Plastic Teabags Release Billions of Microparticles and Nanoparticles into Tea. Environmental Science & Technology. Published 2019. Accessed March 25, 2022. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.9b02540.