Trying to shop and put meals together on a low histamine diet can definitely be tricky at times. It is easy to walk around the supermarket or do your online food order not really knowing where to start and feeling overwhelmed about all the foods that are restricted on this diet.
To overcome this I sat down with the Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI) food list and made a low histamine shopping list that would serve as the basis for low histamine recipes, alongside fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, dairy etc. It made such a difference and now mealtimes are far easier and definitely more tasty!
The SIGHI food list for histamine rates foods on a scale of 0-3, with 0 being low and 3 being high histamine. Although the SIGHI list does not rate branded products, the ones below largely contain ingredients that score 0 or 1 in line with its histamine ratings.
However, please be aware that although I always try to buy foods that are either free of any additional additives etc or have very minimal amounts, there may be some in the items below. We also all have our own sensitivities when it comes to food items so please check the ingredients are suitable for you!
If you would like some food ideas then check out my low histamine recipes page!
Low Histamine Diet Resources
While the majority of this page is dedicated to low histamine foods, I thought it may be helpful to include some useful books on low histamine cooking, and mast cell activation disorders.
Mast cell friendly and low histamine cooking. A very useful book from the Swiss Interest Group, histamine intolerance food compatibility list (which I use to 'rate' ingredients in my low histamine recipes) which includes information on mast cell disorders and a recipe collection that follows the SIGHI guidelines. UK link: Mast cell-friendly and low histamine cooking: diet guidance and recipe collection
Never bet against occam: mast cell activation syndrome and the modern epidemics of chronic illness and medical complexity. Authored by one of the world's leading experts on mast cell activation, Dr Lawrence Afrin, this huge book covers everything there is to know about the condition, including the wide-ranging symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and more. Includes personal stories of living with mast cell activation and a helpful glossary of terms. UK link: Never bet against occam: mast cell activation disease and the modern epidemics of chronic illness and medical complexity
Low histamine shopping list
Oils, vinegars & salt
Sherpa extra fine pink Himalayan salt. My favourite condiment! Pink Himalayan salt is an absolute staple in my kitchen cupboards, as it has a milder, less 'salty' taste than regular table salt. It is also understood to be higher in certain minerals and is less processed than regular table salt. UK link: Silk route spice company spice grinder; and Silk route spice company pink Himalayan salt.
Napolina extra virgin olive oil (500mls). Some oils are not suitable for a low histamine diet (such as sunflower oil, walnut and avocado oils), so I often use olive oil. Great for cooking or for making salad dressings. UK link: Napolina extra virgin olive oil.
The Groovy Food Company organic virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil scores a '0' on the SIGHI list, and is a great cooking oil when you don't want the more distinctive taste of olive oil. I often use this for more sweet dishes and desserts. UK link: The Groovy Food Company organic virgin coconut oil. There is also a coconut oil spray, which is really helpful for baking.
Aspall organic cyder vinegar. Certified organic, this vinegar is great in cooking, in dressings and marinades. Apple vinegar rates as a '1' on the SIGHI food list. Some people may react to vinegar - so test it out with small amounts if you are unsure whether you can tolerate it.
Heinz distilled white vinegar. Scoring a '0' on the SIGHI food list for histamine, distilled white vinegar is great for salad dressings and marinades, as well as being useful as a sub for lemon or lime juice. UK link: Heinz distilled white vinegar
Spreads & butters
Pip and nut almond butter 250g; and the larger 1kg tub. I absolutely love this! Almonds rate as a '1' on the SIGHI list, so aren't super high histamine. Check with a doctor or dietitian if you are unsure whether to try them or not. I like Pip and nut because it doesn't contain palm oil, added sugar or any other 'extras' - it's just roasted almonds and a small amount of sea salt. UK links: Pip and nut 250g, and the more cost-effective 1kg here.
Meridian organic smooth almond butter. Another nut butter that I love and buy often. Again, this one has no palm oil or any other ingredients except the almonds themselves. UK link: Meridian smooth almond butter.
Biona maple syrup. A great sweet treat for porridge, salad dressings or on toast. Scores a '0' on the SIGHI list! Mix with some coconut cream for a sweet 'dip' for fruit! UK link: Biona organic maple agave syrup.
Clarks maple syrup. This is another favourite brand of maple syrup, alongside the Biona one above, and I use it in a lot of recipes.
Clarks agave syrup. Also a '0' on the SIGHI food list, agave syrup is great for topping porridge, in salad dressings or anything you want to have a hint of sweetness.
Rice, pasta, quinoa and oats
Rice - all forms of rice, whether white, brown or wild rice, rate as a 0 on the SIGHI list, so this is definitely a pantry staple in my house and used to make a lot of meals. It is best not to leave leftovers in the fridge for too long though - SIGHI recommends 12-24 hours max.
Instant rice vermicelli noodles. Great for a stir-fry or as a rice noodle salad - maybe with a tahini sauce? This is the brand I always use. UK link: Mama instant rice noodles - this looks to be a re-named version of the US version.
Merchant gourmet red and white quinoa. Perfect for days when cooking quinoa is too time-consuming and you want a super-quick salad or meal. I often reach for this to form the basis of salads or buddha bowls.
Oats - Nairns gluten free porridge oats. I eat a LOT of porridge for breakfast so go through a lot of oats! My carrot cake porridge recipe is a favourite, and you can add suitable fruit, nuts and seeds as well. There is also Bob's red mill gluten free old fashioned rolled oats. UK link: Quaker wholegrain rolled porridge oats
Nuts & seeds
The histamine content of nuts is an area of debate, so please be guided by your own food sensitivities. This list encompasses those that score a 0 on the SIGHI list.
Food to Live pepitas. Compliant with the SIGHI low histamine diet, and a great option to either enjoy on their own or for recipes that call for nuts if you prefer to avoid them. For breakfast they can go on porridge or cereal, or even be whizzed up in smoothies. I also love to use pepitas as a topping for salads. UK link: Whole foods organic pumpkin seeds.
Pistachio nuts (not salted). Pistachios score a 0 on the SIGHI list, which makes me very happy! Have as a snack by themselves, use as a topping for salads or make my white fish with a pistachio herb crumb! (make sure you don't use salted for the latter) UK link: pistachio nuts
Macadamia nuts. These are also a 0 on SIGHI but I couldn't find a brand that wasn't very expensive on Amazon - so perhaps have a look at your supermarket or health food store.
Barabara's bakery organic corn flakes. Cornflakes rate as a 0 on the SIGHI list, but the list states that we should be careful with added folic acid or malt. This brand does not have either of these listed on its ingredients.
Dove's farm organic gluten free cornflakes. Another great option for cornflakes. The ingredients of these cornflakes are really simple - maize, rice syrup and salt and they don't have a ton of added sugar. I like to add a bit of fruit and some seeds to make a more substantial breakfast. Also great as a mid-afternoon snack! UK link: Dove's farm organic gluten free cornflakes.
Arrowhead organic puffed rice cereal. Who remembers rice crispies as a child? Well these are the healthy version! Stated to be a single ingredient product - just puffed brown rice so no other ingredients to worry about. I often mix these with cornflakes. UK link: Kallo organic wholegrain puffed rice cereal
Nairns organic oatcakes. Oatcakes are great as they are a quick and easy snack. Topped with cream cheese, nut or seed butter, jam, whatever you like really! These aren't 100% oats, so check the ingredients for any sensitivities. UK link: Nairns organic oatcakes
Kind bars, almond and coconut. My absolute go-to as a snack to keep in my bag when out and about. The coconut and almond ones are low histamine (according to the form of the diet that I follow, with almonds scoring a 1 on SIGHI). UK link: Kind bars
Herbs & spices
Great for adding flavour to your meals. Personally, I was recommended not to use herbs or spices that had been in the kitchen cupboards for longer than 6 months, although this will vary person to person.
Sweet paprika (dried). Although smoked and hot paprika is considered high histamine, sweet paprika scores a 0 on SIGHI and makes a nice change flavour-wise to using more typical herbs. UK link: sweet paprika
Tea, coffee, milks & other drinks
Tea and coffee are a little controversial on low histamine diets. Black tea scores highly on the SIGHI list for histamine, and so I do not drink it myself or include it here. Instead, herbal teas such as peppermint and chamomile are a great substitute! With coffee, it scores a '1' on the SIGHI list and I have been advised that it is often person-dependant in terms of tolerability. Personally, when I do drink coffee I prefer to use higher quality brands that are also decaffeinated.
Clipper organic unbleached peppermint tea; Pukka three mint tea. As black or green tea isn't a good idea on a low histamine diet, I tend to opt for peppermint tea. During the summer I have a mint plant in the garden and I pick leaves from it whenever I want a hot drink, but in the winter I opt for tea bags. UK links: Clipper organic infusion peppermint tea or Twinnings pure peppermint tea. Pukka three mint herbal tea is also delicious.
Pukka three chamomile tea; Clipper organic chamomile tea. Reputed to help relax us, and help us unwind for a restful night's sleep. Perfect for the evening on cooler days. UK links: Clipper organic infusion chamomile tea; Pukka three chamomile herbal tea
Taylor's of Harrogate Decaffe ground coffee. Coffee tends to be subjective on a low histamine diet, some people are fine with it others are not. If you are able to drink coffee then decaf is usually best, and this brand uses a natural water process rather than a solvent one. UK link: Taylor's of Harrogate Decaffe ground coffee.
Tim Horton's decaf coffee. This brand uses the Swiss Water method of decaffeination which, anecdotally, many people find less problematic than other methods of decaffeination.
Oatly oat drink. Oatly is a non-dairy milk that I use a lot to make porridge or splash over cereal. Oat drinks do score a 1 on SIGHI, so use dependant upon personal sensitivities. UK link: Oatly oat drink
Belvoir elderflower cordial 500ml; Belvoir presse cans (12 pack). A non-alcoholic cold drink that's perfect for a summer's day, or when you are celebrating a special occasion - even if it's just a night in watching Netflix! UK links: Belvoir elderflower cordial 500ml. There are also Belvoir elderflower presse cans, which are great for taking out with you.
Marigold swiss vegetable bouillon powder 150g; and the 500g tub. Gluten and yeast-free, this was recommended to me by a dietitian. Great for making soups, or you can have it as a hot drink. The only option I have found that is yeast-free, it is a staple in my kitchen cupboards. It does contain MSG. UK link: Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder.
Related posts to check out:
Low histamine diet - overview of the SIGHI list for histamine
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Please follow the advice of your doctor as to all medical treatments, supplements, and dietary choices, as set out in my disclaimer. I am not a medical professional, and this is simply my story and the resources that are helpful to me.