Top 10 Histamine Containing Foods

Histamine is a biogenic amine that triggers the immune response. Histamine also acts as a neurotransmitter and has some other physiological functions (such as in the gut). Histamine increases the permeability of small blood vessels so that immune cells and proteins are better able to fight an infection. Histamine is also involved in sleep regulation; too much histamine release in the brain increases wakefulness.

Histamine is also thought to make rosacea symptoms worse. Since we also ingest histamine through our diet, I thought it was helpful to look at what foods contain the highest amount of histamine. Aged and fermented foods are naturally high in histamine, so these kind of foods dominate the list. I have gathered the information below from various sources on the internet as well as from a number of scientific papers.

The amounts of histamine are given as mg per serving size (either 3.5 Oz., 4 Oz. or pint). Please note that the same food item from different sources vary tremendously in their histamine content: food items that are close to their expiration date have a higher histamine content. Therefore, the numbers given below are for illustrative purposes only.

Here are the top 10 foods high in histamine:

  1. Champagne (76 mg/4 Oz.)
  2. Sauerkraut (23 mg/3.5 Oz.)
  3. Tofu (as high as 22 mg/3.5 Oz.)
  4. Parmesan Cheese (15 mg/3.5 Oz.)
  5. Beer (7 mg/pint) Beers vary in histamine content, with top fermented beers being higher in histamine.
  6. Sausage (6 mg/3.5 Oz.) Fresh sausage is often lower in histamine than the cured/aged sausage.
  7. Blue Cheese (5 mg/3.5 Oz.)
  8. Red Wine (3.5 mg/4 Oz.)
  9. Eggplant (3 mg/3.5 Oz.)
  10. Tomato Ketchup (2 mg/3.5 Oz.)
  11. Canned Fish (tuna, salmon, herring) (2 mg/3.5 Oz.)

Numbers shown are approximate

Foods that stimulate the release of histamine

Certain foods (even food that is low in histamine) can stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells (a type of immune cell). These foods include bananas, tomatoes, strawberries, pineapple, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, spinach, egg white and chocolate. Eating these foods can thus have an indirect effect on rosacea.

Some of the most tasteful food is high in histamine. High histamine levels however, can cause headaches, runny nose, sneezing, stomach aches/cramps and flushing skin.

Maintz, L. and Novak, N. (2007) Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr 85: 1185–96.

52 thoughts on “Top 10 Histamine Containing Foods

  1. I have mastosytosis which is too much histamine in my blood. No one has ever told me what foods I can eat and which foods to stay away from. This helps me out.

  2. Hi, I have been reading through these articles about rosacea and how to best deal with treating it. Overall, I have found a lot of good help. This article has also given me some great new tips of foods to stay away from, but to be honest, I’ve created quite a list now of foods that I can’t eat. I’m a vegetarian (but I do eat fish occasionally) and lactose intolerant. You can imagine how floored I was to find that tofu is just 3rd on the histamine list. :( About the last food item-canned fish- does this include sardines? I do enjoy the sardines for their vitamin benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids. Thanks again for writing this article.

  3. Hi. I am yeast intolerant and thought i was OK to drink champagne, but now discover it is high in histamin – which causes all of of my symptons – are all chamapagnes the same? What about cava is that the same?

  4. Other than peanuts, I have never seen a measured histamine level for any nuts or seeds. Does anyone have any information on actual amount of histamine in various nuts/seeds?

  5. This is unbelievably helpful…I have also read that it can cause eczema…and for the past year I’ve been suffering from incredibly inchy skin all over my body and constant migrane and stomach cramps that sometimes last for 6 hours or more.

  6. This page is incredible. For as long as I can remember I have been ‘allergic’ to just about everything – I am a vegetarian also and have just been told never to eat raw fruit and veg also. Leaves me maybe oil that I am able to eat from the food groups lol. Anyways, I was just watching Mystery Diagnosis and decided to start searching again – as Drs, gasterinteroligists, allergists etc etc etc don’t seem that interested. So all these comments help me a great deal. I will be bookmarking this (although I don’t have rosacea – yet…………..)

  7. Great info. Been having bad migraines all of my life.
    I get stuffed up after eating, especially in the evening it is worse and it didn’t matter which foods I ate which is hard to pin point,although I’m going to watch more carefully. I have noticed that the less I eat, the better I feel.
    I’m pretty thin already! Any kind of alcohol gives me migraines so I quit drinking years ago. Most is distilled from grains and with the fermenting aspect is a really bad choice. Clear alcohol is the best, for some, if you choose to drink.
    My worse allergy reactions happen days later (food allergy), after several days of constipation, my sinuses swell up, and then I get a massive headache (on head and face) very painful (throwing up) and won’t go away until I get antibiotics. The pain will last days & continue until I get antibiotics. No doctors have understood or helped me out.My sinuses were recently scanned but no problems.
    I recently got an EPI PEN, so I’m going to try to stop the allergic reaction before the headache starts so I don’t have to go on antibiotics (again). I believe it’s a delayed food allergy problem, but hard to diagnois. Also when taking the full prescription of antibiotics, also starts to give me headaches toward the end of the prescription, so I can’t take more than 22 pills of 500mg of amoxicillan.(Usually the prescription is for about 30 pills) Probiotics also give me migraines, like yogurt, Tutti melon ice cream, or taking probiotics in a pill form.Watch out for that. The headache comes the following day after eating it.
    Otherwise, I’m extremely healthy whenever tests come back from the lab. I do have hypo-thyroidism and take synthroid. thanks for reading. Gale

  8. This summer I suddenly started getting hives, but I’ve had rosacea for a number of years now. Since I found out about histamine intolerance, I’ve noticed that the rosacea is getting better. I’ve just started this diet, so I hope it will be as promising as it appears to be. It feels like finding my way out of a labyrinth.

  9. I started suffering Chronic Urticaria and Angiodema 5 years ago, I was eventually told it was Idiopathic (no known cause) and that there was nothing I could do about it, I have also suffered from persistent Rhinitis for nearly 10 years and 12 months ago was told I have early COPD, I was told none of this conditions are linked. Having read a large number of papers about Histamine I have been on a Histamine free diet for 6 weeks and my health has improved enormously. That is until 2 days ago when foolishly I ate pasta covered with a rich tomatoe sauce and added some cheese. Since then I have been wheezing, sneezing, eyes itching and ankles swollen (no urticaria yet)and had difficulty sleeping. I think that regardless of what the doctors say I have identified the real problem and shall be sticking to a strict Histamine free diet from now on.

  10. Very Interesting – some notes for comments and some questions.

    Have a look in top “Blood type and diet” Dr Peter D’Adamo- brilliant chap, you will see lots of links.

    Nina are you a blood type A?

    also have a look at too much fibre causing problems of this nature.

    get the gut right and symptoms ease.

  11. iv suffered from uitrcara for years , an never bin able to cure it, its bin hell still is, can any one tell me does ur hair fall out, its grows back but comes ou all the time much more then normal.

  12. There’s a new product out called Histame by Naturally Vits. It’s made for people who are sensitive to histamine. It contains the enzyme DAO. Hope this helps.

  13. Recently heard of “histapenia” and “histadelia”. Low or high histamine types. If you’re a low histamine type you may actually benefit from adding histamine in your diet! But I assume most people here are high histamine types already. The theory seems to be, that for high histamine types, adding more histamine just makes you worse. But low histamine types, perhaps drowsy individuals by nature, may feel more awake with a (small) addition of champagne or sauerkraut. The other side of the coin. I thought this may interest someone, somehow, somewhere.

  14. I was diagnosed with RA in 2002. I was taking meds unhappily and found information from health enthusiasts stating RA was basically cause from a food allergy. I didn’t believe it but thought the test was worth a try and brought my daily eating intake to only 3 items and water. Almost all my pain was gone in about a week. I slowly tried other items and it seemed if I had a reaction I would feel it in 2 days or less. I was doing great and got off the meds that same year I was given them until 2010. I was in pain all over my body. Couldn’t get out of bed. It was like nothing I had experienced before. Started with my knees, then my shoulders, then my hands and then all over. I had no strength either. It was just zapped out of me. I went to my doctor ended up on meds again but I know a body changes over time and what bothered me in 2002 may be something else now. It all makes sense. I am booked for both a food allergy testing and a food intolerance blood test. And now I will be following this guide and others on what foods are high in histamine and what to avoid as this is primarily what causes pain in Arthritis and RA patients. Thanks for the information.

  15. I am 49 , have had rosacea for over a year and have tracked it down to the histamines in my diet. Someone above said laughingly they were down to eating oil. well that sadly seems to be the diet for me. i am down to melons, sweet potatoes, chicken, and rice, and i am having a reaction to something still! if you google “anti histamine diet” you will find lots of varying lists, some foods allowed, while restricted on other ” histamine” lists. would love to hear from others with rosacea if you have found the holy grail. thanks, lucy

  16. I have arthritis in my hands and other joints, but the worst is my hands, and I am searching for how to help myself without taking prescription drugs. I just learned today from another website that histimines could be causing my problems. Thank you for the information.

  17. I have severe arthritis in my hands and feet and am about ready to give up as it is constant and I suffer. What can i do?

  18. Lucy,

    Melon & rice are moldy & potatoes may be as well. This year, I started having anaphylactic reactions to rice, soy sauce & herbal mouth rinse. Common denominator: all are naturally infiltrated or processed with mold. I’m going by fresh organic lean meats & produce that is not over-ripe, spotted or moldy & getting higher level air purifiers for my home & office.

  19. My dietician mentioned several important things in the diet for histamine sensitivity:- ensure you only eat fresh caught fish (or commercial frozen), freeze immediately all left over cooked meat, dont just put it in the fridge. Also avoid sulphites, benzoate and tartrazine additives. I just gave my daily vitamins to my husband as they have tartrazine in them.

  20. @ lucy locket, I’ve read that rice is not good if histamine is high. that may be why your still having problems. I love rice and had to stop eating it also. Not much i can eat anymore either. It’s a real pain.

  21. Thanks for the info…
    That may explain why I had violent bout of runny congested nose, itchy skin, itchy throat/ears, sneezing and flushing after eating German food (sausage, sauerkraut, ketchup)accompanied with blush wine…yikes

  22. The hives started last summer while I was vacationing in Canada. I thought they were some sort of insect bite. They didn’t get better when I returned home to my accustomed bugs and food. By October I was a mess. Cortisone shot. November another cortisone shot. An infinite variety of medications – antibiotics, antihistamines, cortisone creams etc. The hives abated to be replaced by eczema type rashes. My doctor was interested and did his best to help me but could really only deal with the symptoms. I went on the wheat belly diet – and still eat no wheat. I discovered the horrors of tartrazine (Yellow 5) and Yellow 6. That was in my multi-vitamin and probably started the whole thing. My doctor said “No more multi-vitamin.” I avoided all the long list of commercial products containing this dye – my shampoo, hand sanitizer, medications and many, many foods. I’m now trying to avoid the high histamine foods too. I still have hives and sudden explosions of itchy rash. I can eat chicken, cooked and consumed fresh, a wide choice of vegetables, seeds and nuts, and oats. But there is not much fun or anticipation in food anymore. I eat few carbohydrates, less sugar and even eschew salt. I am too old to suffer this torment!

  23. Wow, just perhaps discovered something. i have been ill off and on (more one) in the past year, had tons of tests on abdomen, kidneys, liver. i get this feeling of something running through me, fluid in chest, swelling in legs, drop of 50 in blood pressure, feel out of it, rash on face and itchy neck. I went away 2 weeks ago and ate from a buffet only fresh vegetables, eggs, not my ordinary diet, and felt great. home one week and tonight felt the whole thing starting again, and thought i was having some sort of reaction for the first time realized it may be. i had chronic urticaria for 2 years about 10 years ago that went away. I feel when my blood pressure drops, and i am sweating, pain in chest that i may be in trouble. once i felt like i couldn’t breathe and went to hospital and they told me i was having an allergic reation but to what? no answers. Histamine is the word i think i have been searching for!! i will try avoiding these high histamine items for awhile. Oh yeah when this first started i developed no tolerance for any alcohol and still can’t have a sip. Any suggestions?

  24. It might be worth it to check out salicylate sensitivity or intolerance, especially for anyone with rashes, but it’s also connected to Rosacea.

  25. I was diagnosed with aggressive systemic mastocytosis with chronic myloid lukemia up until recently i hadnt had any reactions/anaphalactic. I have since found out that the histamine levels in food may have something to do with it
    i found a list of foods to avoid wich i did . I then didnt hav them for nearly two wks n i ate some chocolate. I started to cough wheeze and my throat felt like was being throttled also blistering to back of throat . I just used to say it were the meds/chemotherapy.
    I was obviously wrong!!!
    i am waiting to see a consultant imunologist to get a more difinitive answer to what im intollerant too
    not good news as all the foods to avoid r what i like to eat!
    And im worried as my appitite very very poor

  26. I’v known for a while that I was sensitve to histamines(started with the fermented black tea but that is a whole other story)
    so I recentally decided to to try the diet.
    After being up most of the night feeling like I was one big itch
    (fluid in the ears, psoriasis on scalp and ears,itching around my mouth,heavy breathing,feet itching this is a new one ect….)I have more spots that itch than not.
    I’m calling it done on all my favorite foods.
    Yesterday I had chocolate, tomatoes, olives,3 types of cheese, eggs, see the pattern!!!! Not to mention what I had over Easter!! How funny that everything I love is a histamine. I’ll post later how it goes.

  27. How does rhubarb rate for rosacea
    it is spring and love stewed rhubarb and rhubarb loaft as well as strawberries and rhubarb
    can you help


  29. Finally a list that is giving numbers! A bit astonished about champagne? Was it a dry one or a sweet one? Would it be possible to have the numbers for the other foods and drinks? Would be so much easier to judge on what we can eat and how much.
    Thank you so much!

  30. I wonder if I have this. Definitely have mold allergies and avoid certain foods and the aspergillus process. Despite restrictions I still have intestinal symptoms that build up to racing heart’ burning bronchial’ nasal symptoms. I can’t gain back needed lost weight either due to this constantly.

  31. Has anyone had anxiety because of this? I have problems breathing and sometimes it feels like my throat is closing up.
    Also has anyone noticed milk is a problem? I am on meds for anxiety because I have panic attacks but I wonder if it’s because the not being able to breathe throws me into panic mode. Also anyone notice salt is an issue? Can you eat any fruits? Or is sugar a problem too?

  32. I am thrilled to find this web site. I have felt so alone in dealing with my chronic rosacea which has been in full bloom for six months. This blog has been extremely helpful. Thank you.

  33. I’m amazed that no one has mentioned mast-cell stabilizers on this site. I have indolent systemic mastocytosis (which took years and many doctors to diagnose since it’s rare and most doctors don’t think of it) and taking mast-cell stabilizers has helped tremendously. My ige number has dropped to 9 and my tryptase number has leveled-off. The main ones are Quercetin, Lutein, Freeze-Dried Stinging Nettles, and Chondroiten Sulfate.

    For those treating themselves with antihistamines, remember you can take both H1 and H2 blockers. Leukotriene inhibitors can help with symptoms, too.

    Also, there’s a long list of mast-cell degranulating foods (including caffeine and alcohol) and medications, as well as other things that trigger degranulation, such as heat, stress, PMS…

    For many of the people who have commented on this site, get your tryptase checked to see if you might have masto.

  34. Wish I’d known about this site last year! Since 3/5/11 I have suffered “episodes” which include simutaneous facial flushing, cramps, unbelievable diarrhea, syncopy (fainting), hives and chills. Test after test, doctors galore, finally Univ. South Florida (tryptase)and Moffitt Cancer (bone marrow biopsy) proved I have malignant systemic mastocytosis. The meds are $689/mo, which I can’t afford. Guess I’ll try deleting many foods from my diet. I’d love to hear from anyone with this malady.

  35. I have malignant systemic mastocytosis. I’ve had it for about 20 yrs. Have had chemo bone marrow biospy’s 7 to be exact.

  36. I’ve been at wit’s end with my skin problem for years… but discovered it was histamine. Itching all over that comes and goes. It’s worse at the end of the day. Anyone have that problem? Anyway, Urticaria seems to be my self-diagnosis. Day before yesterday I ate a lot of tofu… right now I am sooo red and blotchy and itchy and have a huge hive on my face. At least I know the triggers. Anyone had any success with Histame by Naturally Vits? Also… if you have Netflix instant watch…. watch the documentary “Fat, sick and nearly dead”. It was really helpful with my skin condition. Watch the whole thing.

  37. My daughter has extreme reactions to high histamine foods that break her entire body out in a rash, severe stomach ache,.headache, runny nose the list goes on and all at once! we have found by balancing salt and water intake has been crucial to her diet and has even allowed her to eat small portions of higher histamine foods. we have found a quick remedy to her onslaught of symptoms and that is 1/8 tbls of salt held on the tongue for 2 minutes, quick rinse then 300ml of water within 5 minutes her symptoms had almost disappeared it took us a little while to find the right amount for her as everyone is individual but something as small as salt has increased her quality of life.. Its harmless and worth a shot good luck!

  38. I have found by covering myself head to foot with organic coconut oil and getting rid of all the nasty little critter/mites/fungus/morgellon like things that come out of my pores the skin issues, skin tags, rashes etc. have all disappeared. Look up demodex mites for the cause of rosacea and if you have tons of black looking specs that come out of your pores look up….tons and tons of people have these problems and western Dr.s are being slow to acknowledge the issues. 1/4 bleach in the bath, borax, epson salts, tea tree oil all good cleansers for the skin. I’ve actually started injesting 1/8 tsp in a litre of water per day and am about to do the paragone cleanse and the intestinal freedom cleanse. We all have these issues some people just can’t face it though. It terrifies them, gives them the heeby jeebies so bad they refuse to try the help or even to research it or look at the pics on utube. Its all there if you want to look. All the best!! :)

  39. There is at least one product on the market which purportedly relieves the discomfort of histamine/histamine producing foods. One of these products is called “Histame”. I just began taking the product, yesterday. Apparantly, this product contains a Diamine Oxidase Enzyme–from porcine kidney protein concentrate pellets….I know, I know,yuuuck, but if it relieves my symptoms without harming me, I’m gonna take it. There are a few other companies that make products to reduce? histamine, so one of those may be helpful. I don’t know if any of these products help with tyramine/monoamine oxidase, but they DO purpotedly help with histamine.

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