Are there low histamine cheeses? And if there are, which types of cheese are suitable on a low histamine diet?
Those were two of my pressing questions when advised to eat low histamine (cheese fiend over here!), and it's always a matter of discussion amongst my friends on the diet. I'll say that dairy is a debated and contentious topic, with some advised to remove completely, either in the initial stages or for the longer-term. It's also the case that we each have personal sensitivities.
In this post, I give a low histamine cheese list based upon the Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance list (SIGHI list). Broadly speaking, fresh cheese is considered by this list to be suitable, while aged hard cheeses are understood to be high histamine.
For each of the low histamine cheeses I give some recipe ideas for how to enjoy them. So I hope you find something tasty to make at home!
This post does not constitute medical or dietetic advice in any way. It is for informational purposes only. All persons should follow the advice of a medical professional for their particular circumstances.
How to buy low histamine cheese
When we look at the SIGHI list, the first thing to notice is that, generally speaking, fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, ricotta cheese and mascarpone are rated as low histamine, while aged cheeses are rated as high histamine.
However, it is important to remember that the list refers to fresh cheeses as they are, rather than flavoured or with other added ingredients. So if we think about ricotta cheese, the list is referring to plain ricotta cheese. Not to different varieties that have added fruit, herbs or other ingredients.
One thing to note when buying cheese then, is to check the ingredients label. Anecdotally, I tend to find that 'big name' brands have more added ingredients than store-own products, although this could just be where I live.
The following cheeses all score 0 on the SIGHI list. I've given a small description as well as some recipes to make using them.
Cream cheeses are rated as low histamine by SIGHI. They make clear that this refers to plain cream cheese without additives. There is a note, 'Tolerated if unfermented. Always check for additives. Mostly contains intolerated thickeners or stabilizers. e.g. E407, E410!'.
If you can find a suitable cream cheese it can therefore be enjoyed, per SIGHI, on a low histamine diet. To add flavour, it is best to combine with fresh herbs or other flavourings yourself rather than purchase ready-done.
Mascarpone cheese is quite versatile as it can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. It has a loose texture and is quite rich and creamy in taste and texture. It scores 0 on the SIGHI list.
Mozzarella cheese comes in two forms, either the fresh ball that comes in plastic with liquid or a more dry grated or sliced cheese. It isn't clear which the SIGHI list is referring too, but to hazard a guess (not medical advice!) I would suggest it is likely the fresh cheese.
Ricotta cheese is creamy, fresh and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It's very versatile and can be used for cold dishes such as dips, but is also delicious hot. This cheese has a spreadable consistency, but will hold together when baked.
Other fresh cheeses
These cheeses don't appear on the SIGHI list, but do appear on their histamine elimination diet list. Please note that they state this list is for people with histamine intolerance, and is not sufficient for people with mast cell disorders.
Cottage cheese isn't rated on the SIGHI list, but does appear on their histamine elimination diet list as well tolerated.
If you are able to tolerate cottage cheese, then I suggest checking that it is a plain cheese without other added ingredients such as fruit or intolerated herbs or spices. You can always flavour yourself with fresh ingredients!
Goat's cream cheese
This isn't a cheese that is too common where I live, but does appear on the simplified SIGHI list for those with histamine intolerance.
As a note, goat's milk is on the SIGHI list as 0 but with a ? as a liberator.
High histamine cheeses
Broadly speaking, aged, mature hard cheeses rate as higher histamine on the SIGHI list. These include:
- Blue cheeses
- Cheddar cheese
- Hard cheese, all well matured cheeses
- Fontina cheese
- Gouda cheese, old
- Processed cheese
- Raclette cheese
- Roquefort cheese
Frequently asked questions
Cream cheeses are rated as low histamine on the SIGHI list, if they are plain, without additives and not fermented.
Cottage cheese is noted to be suitable for those with histamine intolerance by the Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance. This is plain cottage cheese without added flavouring, fruit or herbs that are high histamine.
It is typically understood that hard, aged cheese is high histamine, including blue cheeses, cheddar cheese and processed cheese, amongst others.
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