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What Convenient Packaged Foods Can I Eat?

Updated: Sep 13, 2023



A question we often get here at Histamine Haven is “what convenient packaged or prepared foods can I eat?”.



It’s a great question—who doesn’t need something they can grab as a snack or when you just don’t have time to prepare food.



There are great options on the market for many dietary approaches such as keto, gluten free, plant based, high protein, or even paleo. What about low histamine?




The dilemma with histamine, is that even if something is low histamine at the time of packaging, it may not stay that way once packaged.



Fresh is best from a histamine perspective, as foods tend to develop histamine over time.



Once histamine is produced, there is no method of reducing it in foods.



Where does histamine come from?



Histamine is derived from the amino acid histidine. Amino acids come from proteins and are found in all foods except oils and fats.





Histamine is produced when an enzyme called histidine decarboxylase (HDC) acts on the amino acid histidine. HDC is an enzyme that is produced in your body in a variety of cell types so that you can make the histamine that you need. It is also produced by bacteria (gram-negative bacteria for those of you who are science geeks).



Your gut microbiome is thriving with the bacteria that make this histidine decarboxylase. The more gram-negative bacteria you have, the more histidine decarboxylase you will have, resulting in more histamine. If you have too many microbes that make it, you can have levels that are too high for your body’s needs.



Histamine is only a problem when you have too much or can’t metabolize it (or break it down) quickly enough. This is why gut health is such an important piece of managing your histamine levels. If you can shift your microbial community away from gram-negative to gram-positive bacteria, you can bring your histamine levels down.



The same holds true for food. Microbes are everywhere, including on food. Just like humans have a gut microbiome, a skin microbiome, a bladder microbiome, a lung microbiome... (you get the idea), so do plant and animal foods each have unique microbiomes.



Whether the microbes are on food, or in your GI tract, they can make HDC that will act on histidine and convert it to histamine.



How does this impact convenience foods?


The microbes that produce HDC tolerate many different environments including varied pH (1) and oxygen levels which is why techniques that are commonly used to increase shelf life such as fermenting or vacuum packaging still result in higher histamine levels. Vacuum packing may slow histamine formation but does not stop it (2).



Freezing is the best option to inhibit histamine formation and should be one of the strategies you employ in your kitchen. Unless you are grabbing a frozen treat like a mango sorbet, this option isn’t very helpful when you are short on time.



Canned and processed foods tend to have more histamine than their fresh counterparts. When choosing packaged foods, it will be a combination of histidine content, microbial content, and time that impacts the final histamine content.



With that in mind, there are some tips that can be helpful when you are grocery shopping.



 


5 Tips When Choosing Packaged Foods


  1. Choose items with ingredients that are already low histamine.

  2. Choose items that were processed quickly using high heat to kill bacteria.

  3. Stay away from high protein items since they have more potential to form histamine.

  4. Check ingredient lists carefully to avoid any ingredients you already know you don’t tolerate. This is particularly the case if you have MCAS as food additives can act as mast cell triggers.

  5. Keep a food diary as you try new things. This will help you identify ingredients you are reacting to. Refer to it when you are trying new things, and cross-reference to make sure ingredients you have reacted to in the past aren’t included.



Our Picks



Start by seeing if your local grocery store carries any of these items. Many of the items we have found over the years are only available at certain stores.



The whole point of having convenient foods is to make life easy. With ease in mind, sometimes it is easiest to place an online order rather than drive from store to store to get everything you want. We have provided links below of great places to get you started.


We have tried our best to choose items that we have tried and tested, that don’t have inflammatory ingredients such as seed oils or processed sugars, but some of these items contain such ingredients. Read the ingredient list to help make the best choices for yourself.





This list is a combination of some of the must-have staples like healthy fats, flours, and glass noodles, while others are those quick grab & go foods you can have as a snack or on the run.



We are presenting this content for your information only. Everyone responds differently to foods. We are not endorsing these options, but rather providing some ideas for you to try as part of your journey of self-discovery. We cannot guarantee that any of these products are low histamine.



Healthy Fats

  • Grass-fed organic ghee in glass jar

  • Chosen Foods or Primal Kitchen Avocado oil

  • Coconut oil in a glass jar


Beverages

  • Full-fat coconut milk - look for a brand that doesn't contain any gums

  • Thai kitchen lite coconut milk

  • Gerolsteiner mineral water


Flours

  • Otto’s cassava flour

  • Bob’s Red Mill almond flour



Chips & Crackers

  • Artisan Tropic Cassava chips

  • Hardbite avocado oil black sea salt chips

  • Good Health avocado oil sea salt chips

  • The Low Carb Co Super Seed Crackers

  • Siete Sea Salt Tortilla chips (cassava and coconut)

  • Hippie Snacks Almond Crisps

  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers



Baking Mixes

All these mixes require the addition of eggs, and some of them also need vinegar. Make sure you tolerate these ingredients before trying these mixes.

  • Legit Sandwich Bread Mix

  • Simple Mills almond flour mix artisan bread

  • Bob’s Red Mill grain free flatbread mix

  • Bob’s Red Mill paleo pancake and waffle mix

Freeze Dried Fruit

Unlike drying using a dehydrator, freeze drying uses fruit that is frozen. Research on histamine content using freeze drying is currently unavailable.

  • Freeze dried organic blueberries

  • Freeze dried mango

  • Freeze dried apples

  • Freeze dried mangosteen (pictured below)



Additional Foods

  • Sweet potato glass noodles (also called sweet potato vermicelli or dangmyeon)

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Olives in brine (just water and salt, no vinegar)

  • Inno Foods Coconut Clusters (contains erythritol and natural flavours, so may not be suitable for everyone)


If you haven’t tried the sweet potato glass noodles, these are a great option for a pasta. Top them with our Chicken Alfredo (p 157 in our book, pictured below on sweet potato noodles) or No-Tomato Sauce (p 102).





Where To Shop


Some items we've listed are easy to find at your local grocery store. Chosen Foods avocado oil, Bob's Red Mill almond flour or Gerolsteiner are examples of commonly found items.


Many of these items can be harder to find, so we love online shopping for many of these products.


In Canada check out naturamarket.ca to find the products we have listed.


In the States thrivemarket.com is a great source for these handy items.


In the UK you will likely have to use a few sources to find what you are looking for, but healthysupplies.co.uk is a good place to start. Brand names will differ from those we have listed.


If you aren't in one of these countries, do an online search for the products you are most interested in and see what is in your area. For example, if you are in Germany and want some coconut milk, do a search for Kokosnuss Milch ohne Zusätze and see what comes up.


We hope you find some convenient foods here that you can easily add to your repertoire. Here at Histamine Haven, our goal is to help you diversify your diet, and bring in as much variety as possible. And with ease!


May this list help inspire just that!



Maven Tracey shared some of her favourites in a video recently as she was preparing for a camping trip with her family. Check it out:







 


Did we miss something on our list that works for you?


Comment below! We’d love to hear from you.



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