WHICH FAT IS LOW HISTAMINE?

January 27, 2015 9:00 pm

Which Fat Is Low Histamine?

One of the questions I often get asked is which are low histamine fats.

There is a lot of confusion around fats, let alone histamine intolerance, so when you add the two together, it’s easy to be confused.

To simplify this, let’s clarify some key points.

Contrary to marketing propaganda, fat does not make you fat. Instead, fats are essential for health and regulating cell function.

What Happens When We Eat Fats

When we eat fats, here’s what happens.

First, fats act as histamine releasors. This means that when we consume fat, histamine is released from mast cells because fats are pro-inflammatory.

Simultaneously, H4 receptors release diamine oxidase (DAO) in proportion to the histamine released from mast cells by the fat. As a result, the more histamine released, the more DAO is released, and the DAO then rapidly degrades the histamine in around 30 minutes.

However, fat consumption does not increase our overall reserves of DAO.

It’s all about balance. Consuming fat is not usually a problem. It only becomes problematic at the tipping point when our body cannot release as much DAO as the histamines present in the fat we consume.

From a histamine intolerance perspective, we must eat fat to be healthy. However, for low histamine fats we must consume the least pro-inflammatory fat possible.

Histamine Levels in Fats

Fats as Histamine Releasors

The histamine released from mast cells after consuming fat has been extensively studied. Here are the results:.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids - Omega 6

[VERY HIGH] Arachidonic Acid is typically found in offal and causes the highest increase in histamine.

Offal is traditionally included in a healthy diet in small quantities due to its high nutritional content. 

Additionally, chicken eggs are relatively high in arachidonic acid, while duck eggs are relatively low in it. Consequently, many people with low histamine tolerance do well on duck eggs which are a low histamine fat source.

[HIGH]  Linoleic Acid is typically found in large quantities in flax seeds, seed-based oils, and in small amounts in various foods.

Having now tested hundreds of people, I can say that few, if any, can tolerate seed-based oils, which are inflammatory.

Interestingly, we can meet our dietary requirements without using seed-based oils. 

Additionally, it is worth noting that while seed-based oils are typically low in salicylates and recommended for a low-salicylate diet, I don’t eat or recommend them.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids - Omega 3

[MODERATE] A-Linolenic Acid is an essential fat typically found in chia seeds, hemp seeds, herbs, micro herbs, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, avocado, onions, and butter.

It is beneficial in preventing inflammation but paradoxically also leads to moderate histamine release.

Moreover, only a modest amount converts to the EPA and DHA forms of Omega 3. To enhance my diet, I actively eat herbs, micro-herbs, and sprouts as ingredients rather than as garnishes.

Additionally, I consume more vegetables than a vegetarian, around 6 cups a day. These vegetables are rich in a-linolenic acid fats and are a powerhouse of antioxidants, including glutathione and its precursors.

Therefore, I prioritize these in my diet and believe they are much lower in histamines than the ingredients I would otherwise eat.

[LOW HISTAMINE FATS] EPA and DHA are also essential fats typically found in fish and grass-fed protein. Two servings of fish a week typically meet dietary requirements.

Studies haven’t examined the histamine-releasing potential of EPA and DHA. However, these healthy fats, at moderate levels, likely prevent inflammation from Omega 6, brain inflammation, and depression. They are therefore low histamine fats.

Firstly, my biggest challenge on a low histamine diet was finding a reliable EPA and DHA source.

Wild salmon isn’t native to my area, and ‘flash frozen’ imported salmon was too high in histamines.

If wild salmon is native to your area, or you can get an overnight frozen supply, it will solve many problems. Fish consumed within 12 hours of a catch is generally well tolerated.

Living in sub-tropical Australia, I rely on wild snapper and barramundi, both white flesh fish.

Through persistence, I found a reputable supplier of white fish caught the night before. They vacuum-pack and deliver within 12 hours of the catch. I tolerate this fish well and eat it twice a week.

Additionally, I found farmers who supply me with a wide range of grass-fed protein, which has high Omega 3 fat levels.

If you wonder about the nutritional differences, try a grass-fed chicken compared to an organic chicken fed ‘organic’ pellets. They have entirely different colors, flavors, textures, and fat content. This comparison converted me instantly.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

[LOW HISTAMINE FATS] Medium-chain Triglycerides are typically found in coconut milk, coconut oil, and mother's milk and result in almost no increase in histamines.

Coconut products are metabolized differently from other forms of fats and are pre-digested. Additionally, they are high in antioxidants.

However, coconut products are a grey area for people with histamine intolerance because they are also high in salicylates.

Despite this, many people with histamine intolerance tolerate coconut oil and MCT oil without an issue. They are low histamine fats.

Unfortunately, many coconut milk brands have additives. Finding an organic brand without additives took me some time but was worthwhile.

Monosaturated Fatty Acids

[LOW HISTAMINE FATS] Oleic Acid is found in olive oil, avocado, lard, and nuts like macadamias. It only slightly increases the precursor that leads to histamine release from the mast cells.

Oleic acid dramatically increases the release of DAO into the bloodstream by up to 500%, thereby improving histamine degradation. Therefore, it is a source of low histamine fats.

Olive oil is one of the primary sources of oleic acid. Although canola oil is also a source, studies show it is highly inflammatory, so I choose not to eat it.

My diet includes a generous amount of locally sourced olive oil and macadamia oil, both of which are produced in my area. They are a regular part of my diet, purchased in small, manageable quantities.

Controversially, I now eat barely ripe, local, organic avocados without issue a couple of times a week. Although avocados contain (hist) amines, these increase in the fruit as it ripens. In small quantities, firm, barely ripe avocados can often be tolerated.

As my health has improved, I have reintroduced this exceptionally healthy fat source into my diet, a process that has taken a while.

Saturated Fat

[ LOW HISTAMINE FATS] Stearic Acid is mainly found in meat, coconut, and milk products and does not result in histamine release. This fat is around 80% of the fat stored in the body's cells for future use.

Finding ethical sources of organic grass-fed protein, rather than supermarket-sourced protein, has significantly reduced my histamine levels. Although this may cost more, I find it worth the investment.

Conclusion

Fats are vital to our health and cell membrane integrity.

We can obtain the low histamine fats from our diet by following these steps:

First, eat fresh, local, organic produce whenever possible.

Second, avoid industrial seed oils.

Additionally, eat pasture-fed protein within two weeks of processing.

Furthermore, consume a minimum of two, preferably four, servings of local fresh fish a week within 12 hours of the catch.

Moreover, eat herbs, micro-herbs, sprouts, and vegetables.

Next, use heat-stable oils such as ghee and expeller-pressed coconut oil for cooking.

Lastly, continue to increase and rotate the variety of quality fats consumed.

We can also include supplements to support fat digestion, such as digestive enzymes. Our ability to digest fats doesn’t change our cells’ needs for them

To learn more about how amines build in foods, read my post, Safe Food Handling and Histamine Intolerance.

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Additional Reading