Are macadamia nuts a high histamine nut? Macadamia nuts have a smooth, buttery taste that makes them a delicious snack alternative to chips and other processed munchies. Macadamia nuts originated in Australia, but came to America, specifically the island of Hawaii, in the 1920s. From there, they caught on and became a snack nut. Macadamia nuts are also popular in desserts, especially as an additive to cookies.
Macadamia Nuts and Histamine
If you’re a fan of this buttery nut and have histamine intolerance, there’s good news. Macadamia nuts are low in histamine, although they may contain other biogenic amines that slow histamine breakdown. Despite this, most people with histamine intolerance can enjoy macadamia nuts, in moderation, without triggering histamine sensitivity symptoms. Tolerance can vary though, as there are no two people with histamine intolerance who are alike.
For example, you may have a higher diamine oxidase (DAO) level than someone else, so you can tolerate more histamine from food sources than someone with a severe DAO deficiency. DAO is the main enzyme that breaks down histamine, so you can clear it from your body. If you have histamine intolerance, you likely have a low level of this enzyme and can’t clear histamine from your body as quickly as someone with more of this enzyme.
If you love tree nuts, but don’t want to raise your body’s histamine level, macadamia nuts are one of the best choices relative to other tree nuts. Histamine intolerance sufferers can have problems with some tree nuts, particularly walnuts, due to their higher content of biogenic amines, and because some tree nuts can trigger histamine release. Pistachios, macadamia nuts, and pecans in modest amounts are better choices if you have histamine intolerance.
Tree Nuts Are a Source of Biogenic Amines
Tree nuts are a known source of biogenic amines (1), as they’re a component of many plant and animal foods, including meat, seafood, dairy, wine, and fermented foods. They’re also found in some fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolate. Histamine is one biogenic amine, but there are others. These include tyramine, cadaverine, and putrecine. These biogenic amines form when foods ferment or decompose.
When biogenic amines accumulate in large amounts, they can be toxic even for people who don’t have histamine intolerance. So, you want to avoid foods high in biogenic amines. Since most people who break down histamine slowly can tolerate macadamia nuts, there aren’t enough total biogenic amines in macadamia nuts to be a problem.
Macadamia Nuts Contain Monounsaturated Fats
Macadamia nuts are high in fat but have one of the healthiest fat profiles. They’re rich in monounsaturated fats, a form of fat linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol (the type linked with cardiovascular disease) in the bloodstream. (3)
This doesn’t mean you should eat huge quantities of monounsaturated fats, but replace some of the saturated fat (from animal and dairy products) you currently eat with monounsaturated fats, like those in macadamia nuts.
Other sources of monounsaturated fats include:
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame seeds
But as with other foods, you have to consider how such foods affect your body’s histamine burden. Even knowing that macadamia nuts are low in histamine, it’s still important to keep a food diary and find out what YOUR tolerance is. A food diary is your best friend if you have histamine intolerance. It lets you clearly identify how your body responds to dietary changes.
Another Way Macadamia Nuts Could Benefit Histamine Intolerance
When you have histamine intolerance and your histamine level rises, it creates an inflammatory state inside your body. Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E (an antioxidant vitamin) and flavonoids (antioxidant phytonutrients). By reducing oxidative stress, these components in macadamia nuts help fight inflammation. Macadamia nuts top the list of flavonoid-rich tree nuts. (4)
This doesn’t mean you can eat all the macadamia nuts and anti-inflammatory foods you want if you have histamine intolerance. Some high-histamine foods increase your body’s histamine burden, even though they have inflammation-fighting phytonutrients.
But foods that are low histamine and anti-inflammatory are a winning combination if you have histamine sensitivity. Some, but not all fruits and vegetables, fall into this category.
Macadamia Nuts Are Among the Best Tree Nuts if You Have Histamine Intolerance
If you enjoy eating tree nuts, macadamia nuts are one of the better choices, since they’re not high histamine, and most people with histamine intolerance tolerate them in moderation. But, as always, keep a food journal and see how you respond when you add macadamia nuts to your diet. Start with a small amount and see how you respond.
Also, know that other foods can affect your response. Don’t confuse the issue by adding other new foods to your diet simultaneously. Even some medications can affect how your body breaks down histamine and increase your body’s total histamine burden. So, don’t make more than one dietary change at a time, and consider whether you’re on a new medication that affects your histamine burden.
The Bottom Line
Some tree nuts can increase your body’s histamine burden, but macadamia nuts are one of the better choices. They’re also nutrient-dense and contain vitamin E and flavonoids with anti-inflammatory benefits.
Macadamia nuts also have one of the healthier fat profiles since their predominant fat is monounsaturated. Macadamia nut butter is also an alternative to peanut butter if you have histamine intolerance. It’s more expensive but its smoothy, buttery flavor is satisfying. Even though they’re delicious, avoid dark chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, since dark chocolate increases your body’s histamine burden.
Also, choose the freshest macadamia nuts to ensure you’re eating nuts that contain the fewest biogenic amines. Buying macadamia nuts from bulk bins can be risky, since you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting there. Buy them in a sealed package from a reputable supplier. Call the supplier and inquire about the freshness of their product. It’s worth it!
- “Biogenic amines: their importance in foods – ScienceDirect.” 01 Apr. 1996, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0168160595000321.
- “Biogenic amines in fermented foods – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21045859/.
- “Monounsaturated Fat | American Heart Association.” 01 Jun. 2015, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/monounsaturated-fats.
- Bolling BW, Chen CY, McKay DL, Blumberg JB. Tree nut phytochemicals: composition, antioxidant capacity, bioactivity, impact factors. A systematic review of almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Nutr Res Rev. 2011 Dec;24(2):244-75. doi: 10.1017/S095442241100014X. Epub 2011 Dec 12. PMID: 22153059. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22153059/