Biogenic Amines in Plant-Origin Foods: Are They Frequently Underestimated in Low-Histamine Diets?

Foods. 2018 Dec 14;7(12):205. doi: 10.3390/foods7120205.


Low-histamine diets are currently used to reduce symptoms of histamine intolerance, a disorder in histamine homeostasis that increases plasma levels, mainly due to reduced diamine-oxidase (DAO) activity. These diets exclude foods, many of them of plant origin, which patients associate with the onset of the symptomatology. This study aimed to review the existing data on histamine and other biogenic amine contents in nonfermented plant-origin foods, as well as on their origin and evolution during the storage or culinary process. The only plant-origin products with significant levels of histamine were eggplant, spinach, tomato, and avocado, each showing a great variability in content. Putrescine has been found in practically all plant-origin foods, probably due to its physiological origin. The high contents of putrescine in certain products could also be related to the triggering of the symptomatology by enzymatic competition with histamine. Additionally, high spermidine contents found in some foods should also be taken into account in these diets, because it can also be metabolized by DAO, albeit with a lower affinity. It is recommended to consume plant-origin foods that are boiled or are of maximum freshness to reduce biogenic amine intake.

Keywords: biogenic amines; cadaverine; culinary process; histamine; histamine intolerance; low-histamine diet; plant-origin foods; putrescine; storage conditions; tyramine.

Publication types

  • Review