Foods high in histamine are often fermented and include alcohol, aged cheeses, pickled foods, buttermilk and sour cream. Smoked meats and fish are also high in histamine as are avocados, spinach and tomatoes. Some fruits, chocolate, milk, fish and shellfish cause the human body to release histamine, causing results similar to consuming foods high in the substance.
Histamine is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. The immune system triggers its release when it detects an offending substance, resulting in an allergic reaction. However, when histamine enters the body through the digestive tract, it does not cause an allergic reaction but instead leads to food intolerance. Although this reaction is not technically an allergic reaction, some of the symptoms it causes are similar.
Scomorbid fish poisoning is a syndrome due to the consumption of fish with a high histamine level. Mackerel, slapjack, tuna, bonito and other fish from the Scomorbidae family are the most common causes of the syndrome, but other types of fish, including bluefish, marlin and mahimahi may cause it. Cooking the fish does not destroy the histamine, and proper storage is the best way to prevent its formation. Some of these fish show no outward signs of contamination, even though bacteria break down the flesh to release the chemical.