Yes, in some instances legumes can cause inflammation. However it isn’t straightforward yes or no across all legume varieties.
Let me cover this in a little more detail.
Many view legumes as being a healthy plant-based protein option, an alternative to meat, and a staple in plant-based meals.
The lectin content in legumes is the reason some view them as an inflammation-causing food.
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins, found in legumes in fairly high amounts.
Some lectins can be harmful and cause digestive problems.
These lectins are often viewed as “anti-nutrients” as they can prevent the proper assimilation of nutrients.
Phytohaemagglutinin, found in raw kidney beans, is a toxic lectin.
To get rid of this, however, the kidney beans need to be cooked.
Much of the lectin content in legumes can be reduced through various cooking methods.
These include boiling and steaming.
Once the lectin content has been reduced, the other nutritious aspects of the legumes can be appreciated.
Aside from this, the histamine content in legumes can lead to an increase in inflammation in the body.
Histamine intolerance can mean that otherwise ‘healthy foods’ such as fermented foods, bone broth, spinach, smoked foods, and legumes can in fact cause an individual to feel worse.
Where an individual has histamine intolerance, autoimmune illnesses, or digestion problems, avoiding legumes as much as possible might be best.
This is because of the histamines contained in the legumes.
The histamines can trigger an allergic reaction leading to further inflammation.
Are legumes low histamine?
No, legumes are high in histamine.
Histamine intolerance is the body reacting to high-histamine foods.
Histamine is a chemical the body creates when it comes across an allergen, this causes an allergic reaction.
Histamine intolerance is rare and is difficult to diagnose.
Despite the fact that it can be seen as an allergic reaction or intolerance it is actually neither of these things.
This is because histamines are good for you, and you cannot be intolerant or allergic to them.
However, histamine intolerance arises as a result of too many histamines in the body.
This can happen due to a digestive enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) that is produced alongside histamines which helps us break down the histamines from food.
If there is not enough DAO, we cannot break down histamines properly which can lead to histamine intolerance.
When consuming foods high in histamines, can trigger a response but finding the foods which caused this response can be complicated.
Following a low-histamine diet can be difficult, and it is important to keep a close eye on your nutrient intake in order to ensure all of the essential nutrients are being consumed.
There is some confusion around whether or not legumes are high in histamines which stems from the fact that histamine levels fluctuate.
Depending on storage and freshness, a portion of food can start out low in histamines and begin to increase in histamines as it ages.
If a food is frozen, this can prevent histamines from increasing.
When cooking legumes, freezing leftovers can help prevent histamine levels from increasing.
The way food is prepared can have an effect on histamine levels in food.
When foods are fried and grilled, this increases histamine levels whereas boiling decreases the levels or has little influence.
Boiling foods may be helpful where a person is sensitive to histamine intolerance as opposed to frying and grilling.
Lists of foods that are low or high histamine can often be confusing, this is because different lists take into account various factors.
Some lists don’t factor in the foods that could be DAO blockers and others do.
DAO blocking foods include citrus fruits, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, fresh tomatoes, black tea, and mushrooms.
This is why lists can vary greatly and can be a little confusing.
They also don’t mention foods containing oxalate, which can lead to a histamine release.
Legumes are high in histamines, although the level depends on storage conditions and the way the food is prepared.
Which beans are low histamine?
Dried black beans, white beans, and mung beans soaked overnight, and cooked are low in histamines.
Beans that are canned are high in histamines, and on a low-histamine diet, should be avoided.
As mentioned earlier, when some foods age, their histamine levels increase.
As canned beans can spend a long time being preserved, their histamine level is usually very high and should be avoided by those attempting to minimize or cut out histamines in their diet.
Dried beans do not age in this way and therefore have fewer histamines.
By soaking and cooking the dried beans, further reduces their histamine levels.
The way beans are prepared has an effect on their histamine level.
If you are looking to minimize histamine levels in your diet, you may want to pressure cook your beans.
This is because the longer you cook the food, the higher histamine levels rise.
This is even if you have made the effort to soak the beans overnight.
Remember, the key to reducing histamine levels is to ensure the food is consumed fresh, and as quickly as possible.
The longer the food is around, the longer it cooks, the higher the histamine levels.
Quicker cooking methods that thoroughly cook the beans are the best low-histamine option.
Although freezing food is said to prevent histamine levels from increasing, which is true, during the thawing process, histamine levels can rise.
This is why quick cooking methods like a pressure cooker can help reduce the histamine levels significantly.
Opt for low histamine beans such as black, white, and mung beans on a low histamine diet.
Avoid canned beans, and choose only dried beans as they will have significantly less histamine levels.
Is soybean high in histamine?
Yes, soybeans are high in histamines.
Mast cells play a big role in the allergic reactions produced by food.
This leads to a histamine release and symptoms that can include headaches, red eyes, congestion, fatigue, digestive problems, and nausea.
Many soy products have such a high level of histamines due to the fact that they are fermented.
Fermented foods tend to have the highest amount of histamines whereas fresh, unprocessed foods have the lowest.
Included in this list are fermented soy items like soy sauce, natto, miso, and tempeh.
Soy allergy can sometimes begin during infancy when a child reacts to a soy-based formula.
Many children will outgrow this allergy however some will continue to remain allergic to soy well into adulthood.
Signs of soy allergy include hives or itchiness in or around the mouth area.
On a low-histamine diet, soybeans and soy products should be avoided or minimized.
Is coffee high in histamine?
No, coffee is not high in histamine however it can lead to histamine intolerance.
Coffee and histamines are complex subjects with much misinformation on both sides.
Very few foods naturally have high levels of histamine, it is usually through fermentation that histamines levels rise.
Coffee, however, is not fermented for a long time.
It is only fermented for the purpose of moving the skin of the fruit around the coffee beans.
Coffee beans begin as small red fruits on trees, when these are fermented, histamine levels can increase.
These histamines stay around throughout the process of them being turned into your morning coffee.
Caffeine is also an important part of this discussion.
There are theories that caffeine can block DAO, which helps to break down histamines in the body.
This means that even if you take the time to avoid fermented coffee, there is still the possibility of coffee leading to histamine intolerance.
Another way to avoid high levels of histamine in coffee is to choose organic coffee whenever possible.
Organic coffee is often low-toxin, low-mold, and a little better quality.
Some people notice an improvement in the symptoms arising from histamine intolerance when opting for organic coffee.
Decaf coffee can also be an issue due to the process of removing caffeine from the coffee.
This process leads to a lot of chemicals being built up within the coffee which is not good news for individuals who have problems with histamine intolerances or digestive issues.
When it comes to histamine intolerance, there is not always a straight answer.
Some people may avoid all high histamine foods, prep accordingly, or even avoid any foods that block DAO to further avoid any histamine build-up in the body.
It is important to take into account each individual’s health, and their individual response to foods.
This provides a more accurate picture of whether or not food can be tolerated by an individual.
Sourcing, storage conditions, and cooking methods can all help to reduce or cut out histamines.
Some cooking methods such as boiling can help to cut down histamines in legumes, although the water will need to be chucked out.
Many will find that they can consume legumes when prepared correctly and when they avoid canned legumes.
If histamine intolerance is a problem, it may be best to not make legumes a staple part of a diet however this still depends on each indiviudal.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.