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Histidine Content of Different Foods

Histidine Content of Different Foods

Zack West
  • Struggling with histamine issues or allergies? Knowing which foods contain higher levels of histidine may help keep your histamine levels in check!
high histidine foods illustration optimus medica

Histidine is an amino acid that is readily converted into histamine by the histidine carboxylase (HDC) enzyme. Foods higher in histidine content may pose a greater risk to those with conditions such as histamine intolerance, mast cell activation syndrome, or allergies.

Health conditions involving histamine issues often focus on the therapeutic use of low-histamine diets to lower overall histamine levels. Research has shown such diets to be effective at managing certain histamine-related health conditions (1).

Introduction

Not all these diets take into consideration the level of histidine found in foods. In some cases, low-histamine foods contain high levels of histidine that may still pose a threat to those with histamine issues. High levels of histidine, or even genetic mutations affecting the expression of the HDC gene, are integral considerations for any low-histamine diet.

High Histidine Foods

Below you’ll find a series of tables listing a selection of foods and their respective histidine content. Some general rules:

  1. Meats & high-protein foods contain higher levels of histamine and histidine
  2. Cooking food increases histamine and histidine (2)
  3. Aged and/or fermented foods may have lower histidine levels but will almost always have high histamine levels.

With these rules in mind, the following tables list high histidine foods, by category, in descending order. In each case, measurements are in milligrams (mg) per 100 grams (g) of food samples.

Meats

Meat, as with many high-protein foods, is rich in histamine. Many wild game types of meat like deer and boar have higher measurable levels. As a general rule, fattier meats have less histidine, and cooking meats increase levels (cooking also increases histamine).

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Deer 1494
Bacon 1452
Boar 1435
Antelope 1402
Veal 1322
Pork Shoulder 1289
Pork Loin 1267
Bison 1238
Beef Round 1237
Lamb 1126
Beef Chuck 1108
Beef Brisket 1082
Chicken Breast 1037
Beef Loin 986
Beef Sirloin 985
Pheasant 971
Moose 963
Elk 948
Turkey Breast 933
Chicken Thigh 874
Quail 857
Pigeon 825
Emu 737
Ostrich 729
Duck 724
Goose 700
Salami 699
Ham 693
Pepperoni 688
Bologna 646
Pastrami 549
Bratwurst 508
Beef Sausage 466
Pork Sausage 444

Fish

Fish are relatively high in histidine and, worth noting, also generally high in histamine as well. For those seeking low-histamine/histidine options here its essential to purchase from sources that flash-freeze fish directly after catching the fish.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Cod 1849
Tuna 882
Yellowtail 873
Anchovy 850
Salmon 806
Halibut 786
Trout 784
Snapper 774
Mackerel 765
Swordfish 747
Perch 732
Grouper 731
Sardine 725
Bass 712
Catfish 551
Eel 543
Shrimp 482

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are generally high in histidine with a few notable exceptions like pine nuts, walnuts, and macadamia nuts.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Hemp Seeds 969
Pumpkin Seeds 780
Watermelon Seeds 775
Peanuts 661
Sunflower Seeds 632
Almonds 539
Chia Seeds 531
Sesame Seeds 522
Pistachio 512
Poppy Seeds 471
Cashew 456
Walnuts 391
Pine Nuts 341
Macadamia 195

Fats & Oils

Fats & oils have little to no histidine. The table below has been included mostly to illustrate this point as it relates to common fats and oils. Note that some oils like olive and avocado may temporarily lower DAO before increasing it.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Bacon Grease 0
Beef Tallow 0
Chicken Fat 0
Duck Fat 0
Goose Fat 0
Cod Liver Oil 0
Flaxseed Oil 0
Lard 0
Olive Oil 0
Almond Oil 0
Grapeseed Oil 0
Hazlenut Oil 0
Canola Oil 0
Palm Oil 0
Walnut Oil 0
Avocado Oil 0
Coconut Oil 0

Spices

There are a handful of spices that contain large amounts of histidine that may be surprising to some. These measures are still in mg/100g amounts and, in the case of spices, likely outside the normal amount being used.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Mustard Seed 762
Fenugreek 668
Caraway Seed 550
Fennel Seed 331
Dill Seed 320
Garlic Powder 309
Basil 287
Ginger 158
Cinnamon 117
Peppermint 75
Rosemary 66

Beans/Legumes

Most beans, with the exception of Soybeans, have a similar amount of histidine. Oddities like peanuts have been omitted from this section and included in the nuts & seeds.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Soy Beans 1097
White Beans 271
Lentils 254
Black Beans 247
Pinto Beans 247
Kidney 242
Lima Beans 238
Great Northern 232
Mung 205
Fava Beans 193

Dairy & Eggs

Dried forms of eggs seem to have copious amounts of histidine compared to fresh or freshly cooked forms. Most all cheeses have a high level of histidine, though many have been omitted from this table for brevity.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Dried Egg White 1830
Parmesan Cheese 1609
Romano Cheese 1231
Gruyere Cheese 1117
Provolone Cheese 1115
Swiss Cheese 1065
Gouda Cheese 1032
Dehydrated Milk 981
Goose Egg 346
Duck Egg 320
Quail Egg 315
Egg, Whole, Fresh 309
Egg, White, Fresh 290
Lowfat Yoghurt 142
Milk, Lowfat 107
Buttermilk 95
Goat Milk 89
Sour Cream 80

Vegetables

For vegetables, most are considered as the fresh, mature form, cooked by boiling without added salt.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Spirulina 1085
Soybeans 449
Lentils 354
Lima Beans 238
Garlic 113
Corn 91
Spinach 64
Chives 57
Shiitake Mushrooms 56
Avocado, raw 48
Peas 20
Tomatoes 14
Green Pepper 10

Fruits

Fruits are generally low in histidine. The ones listed below are cherry-picked mostly to show how little histidine is present in those with the highest histidine measures. It is worth noting is that dried fruits typically have high levels of histamine.

Food Histidine (mg/100g)
Banana 77
Raisins 72
Plantains 64
Avocado 55
Dates 32
Apricots 27
Kiwi 27
Olives 27
Plums 27
Oranges 24
Grames 23
Cranberries 18

Sources: US Food Data Central

Final Thoughts

Navigating conditions such as histamine intolerance or mast cell activation syndrome is complex in the best of cases. A deeper awareness of histamine-influencing nutrition can help chart a better nutritional path forward. Levels of histidine may play a critical role in raising levels of histamine—especially when mutations in genes like the HDC are involved.

In the case of the foods listed above, I’ve made many selections based on criteria not too far from personal preference. I selected what I thought was encompassing of popular foods, those perceived as high histidine, and some just for fun.

In most cases, food data includes dozens of options, varieties, and preparations methods. In some cases, the range of measured histidine are great. I urge anyone with serious histamine/histidine issues to consult a nutritional professional before altering their diet. Certainly—don’t make changes based on this article alone!

References

  1. Son, Jee Hee et al. “A Histamine-Free Diet Is Helpful for Treatment of Adult Patients with Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria.” Annals of dermatology vol. 30,2 (2018): 164-172.
  2. Chung, Bo Young et al. “Effect of Different Cooking Methods on Histamine Levels in Selected Foods.” Annals of dermatology vol. 29,6 (2017): 706-714.