I think many people think that a restrictive diet, such as a low histamine diet, is bland, boring and lacking in flavour. Yet there are so many lovely low histamine herbs and spices to enjoy and that will make all your meals extra tasty.
The herbs and spices given here are all taken from the information presented in the SIGHI list, which has a comprehensive breakdown of the 'score' of histamine in each food (or most of them!).
So let's talk about herbs and spices that score 0 on that list, and a few that score 1, and then I've got lots of recipes that make the most of them to enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and some sweet treats as well, of course!).
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Low histamine herbs
The SIGHI list has a large number of herbs that are scored as low histamine, and as 0 on their scale from 0-3. One thing I will note is that it isn't clear whether the list refers to fresh or dried herbs. I use both personally, although mostly fresh in the summer when my windowsill and garden is awash with herb pots!
I've linked to dried varieties in case it is helpful, where appropriate.
Scoring as low histamine (0 on the SIGHI list) there is:
Scoring slightly higher as a 1 on the SIGHI list are:
Cilantro - scores 0 but with a ? as a liberator and a note stating that only small amounts are well tolerated.
Low histamine spices
One of the first things a doctor said to me when I was advised to go low histamine due to having mast cell activation syndrome was to steer clear of curry powder and chilli powder.
Thankfully though there are other spices that can really elevate the flavour of your meals, and make them a little curry-like (kind of!).
Scoring 0 on the SIGHI list, there is:
Black caraway - personally I haven't ever tried this, but must get some!
Caraway (Carum carvi) - as the SIGHI note, don't get this confused with cumin, which is higher histamine and noted to be a liberator.
Cardamom - there is a note stating that some varieties may not be well tolerated.
Cinnamon - I will note that this is rather controversial and other histamine lists do rate it as higher histamine.
Scoring slightly higher as a 1 on the SIGHI list are:
And some other flavourings
Vinegar appears to be quite a tricky one for those on a low histamine diet. While many are high histamine, such as red and white wine vinegar and balsamic, there is white distilled vinegar which scores 0 on the SIGHI list. It has a ? as a liberator and a note 'Low histamine, but not free from histamine. Use sparingly. Check for intolerated additives'
I will say that from conversations with people on my Low Histamine Kitchen Instagram, it appears individual as to whether people can tolerate any form of vinegar.
Garlic scores 1 on the SIGHI list. Personally I mostly use fresh, but there is also garlic powder if you tolerate well.
How to enjoy your low histamine herbs and spices
I thought it would be fun to shares some recipes that make use of these herbs and spices, and I think they are full of flavour! There are so many to choose from on the low histamine recipes page here on the site, but I've picked a few favourite and popular ones for some of the herbs and spices.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of basil is caprese salad, and then pesto.
Baked stone fruit caprese salad
Peach and mozzarella caprese salad
I am a huge fan of sage for its pungent taste that definitely gives a lot of flavour. I most often use it with brown butter as it goes so well and feels quite indulgent.
Brown butter and sage butternut squash spaghetti
Brown butter and sage skillet chicken
Hasselback butternut squash with brown butter and sage
This always feels like a Sunday lunch kind of herb, if you know what I mean! Perfect for adding lots of flavour to meat and vegetables dishes.
Honey roasted vegetables with rosemary
I still remember the day I discovered cardamom was low histamine and have been using it on so many dishes ever since! It works as both a sweet and and savoury flavouring in my opinion, and so is very versatile.
Cardamom chia pudding with blueberry compote
Cardamom pistachio energy balls
Chicken burger with a honey ginger glaze
Not to be confused by hot or smoked paprika, sweet paprika is milder and has a different (but delicious!) flavour.
I hope you enjoy some of these recipes, and perhaps discovered a herb or spice that you don't tend to use. I think that following a restrictive diet encourages you to explore all the foods that you can enjoy. I know I didn't ever use cardamom before having MCAS but now it is always in my pantry!
Low histamine recipes collection
10 tips for starting a low histamine diet
Living the low histamine life - FAQ
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Please note that this post does not constitute medical or dietary advice in any way. It is for informational purposes only, and all persons should consult with a qualified medical professional for advice on their diet and health.
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I have recently been diagnosed with Mast cell disease/Mast cell activation syndrome and in the process to be tested for Mastocytosis. I also have several other health issues: connective tissue disease, dercum's disease, parathyroidism, diabetes type 2, and etc...
I am new to the Mast cell and Diabetes. Any chance you are familiar with diet restrictions that would be beneficial (also has to be gluten free and I'm lactose intolerant)? I am not able to have anything canned, jarred, boxed, fortified, sugar free (as much as possible), no chocolate, no acidic fruits, VERY limited amounts of fruits with natural sugar, no seafood, no red meats (including pork), no processed meats of any type, limited amounts of cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower and no corn. 😞
I have a HUGE list of foods I cannot eat, but not much for what I CAN.
ANY help would be SO appreciated.
Hi Robin, sorry to hear that you have so much going on. It must be very challenging. I think the best course for you would be to see a dietician. They are trained to help with complex medical conditions in relation to diet. Wishing you the best, Claire