Every summer I get asked one very important question - are there are any low histamine salad dressings? I often get tales of sad looking salads that need a bit of 'pep' or 'zing' to up the flavour . . .
There are so many ways to make a salad dressing suitable for a low histamine diet, we just need to do some food swaps and omit a few more typical items. But that means we can add in some flavourful ones too!
The following recipes are salad dressings without mayo or citrus and omitting certain forms of vinegar. I'm sharing some of my own recipes as well as those from other amazing low histamine bloggers, who have got creative with their dressings! Thank you to Tania of Histamine Friendly Kitchen, Bertha of Guts and Good and Stacy of Low Histamine Baby for sharing their recipes!
I've chosen recipes that score as lower histamine on the SIGHI list, but please make sure to check that the ingredients are suitable for you. This post does not constitute medical or dietetic advice, and is for informational purposes only.
The problem of salad dressings on a low histamine diet
Salad dressings often contain ingredients that are higher histamine such as mayo, citrus, certain vinegars, mustard or (certain) spices. This means they can be a problem for those following a low histamine diet due to having mast cell activation syndrome or histamine intolerance (or other conditions). Simply put, these are high histamine foods and so may not be well tolerated.
A classic addition to a salad is mayo. It's what I grew up on, and there was always a jar in the fridge! Unfortunately though, it has egg whites and lemon juice as the main ingredients, both of which are high histamine (on the SIGHI list).
Citrus is another typical addition to dressings, particularly to vinaigrettes. It is used as the acid to balance out the oil and to give that tang many of us love. Citrus is a problem on a low histamine diet, with both lemon and lime scoring as high histamine on the SIGHI list.
Vinegar and a low histamine diet
Vinegar is one of the most contested items on a low histamine diet in my experience. It also seems quite individual in terms of tolerance. This is one to tread carefully with, and to work with a dietician for your personal circumstances.
Certain vinegars are rated as high histamine, and so off-limits for most of us. This includes red and white vinegars, as well as balsamic vinegar. None of the recipes here use these.
However, white distilled vinegar scores as 0 on the SIGHI list, and so lower histamine. It can easily be used in place of other vinegars for most recipes. Apple cider vinegar scores slightly higher, as 1 on the SIGHI list. It would be more individual then if you can tolerate or not. Best to speak to a dietician on this ingredient before trying.
Making your own dressing or adapting a recipe that isn't suitable as it is? Some food swaps will likely help you out!
- Adjust the oil to vinegar ratio. We all have different tastes, so change up the ratio to taste preference.
- Swap higher histamine vinegars for lower histamine options. Some people won't be able to tolerate any vinegar, but if you can, then white distilled vinegar is the lowest histamine (per the SIGHI list) so you may like to use this rather than other vinegars.
- Swap lemon juice for a low histamine vinegar. You will still get the acidic 'tang' with white distilled vinegar!
- Use fresh herbs. An easy way to perk up a salad dressing is to use fresh herbs such as basil, coriander or parsley.
- Use spices. Adding a touch of turmeric, sweet paprika or ginger will liven up a salad. Find ideas on my low histamine herbs and spices post!
Vinaigrette is a classic salad dressing, usually made with an oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Often herbs and spices, or even mustard are added for extra flavour.
Here are some flavourful vinaigrettes that use lower histamine vinegars, and have some tasty additions such as fruit as well. A vinaigrette works well on more simple green salads.
While we can't use mayo, there are other ways to get a creamy dressing that are equally delicious (maybe even better!).
Pesto works really nicely as a salad dressing, particularly if you thin it out a little with more oil, vinegar and/or water. Or just add little blobs to your salad as it is for a pop of flavour!
Traditionally pesto is made of pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, basil and garlic. But we can keep it low histamine by swapping out some of those ingredients and using other nuts and seeds and omitting the cheese. Some flavourful options:
Dips and spreads
While dips and spreads aren't technically dressings, they are always good as a side for salads!
Frequently asked questions
Many traditional salad dressings are not suitable for a low histamine diet as they contain high histamine vinegars, citrus and spices. A low histamine salad dressing can be made using low histamine ingredients such as olive oil, certain herbs, fruits or spices.
Mayonnaise likely isn't suitable for a low histamine diet as it typically contains higher histamine foods such as white wine vinegar, lemon juice and mustard.
Traditional pesto is likely not suitable for a low histamine diet as it contains Parmesan cheese and sometimes lemon juice. However, it is possible to use other ingredients to make a low histamine pesto.
Find more ideas on my low histamine sauces page including even more pesto recipes (I'm quite the pesto fan!) and jam recipes.
Don't forget to pin the post!
Please note that this post does not constitute dietary or medical advice in any way. It is for informational purposes. Please consult a doctor for your medical needs.