Amine Sensitivity

What are Amines?

Amines are organic compounds that are formed within foods due to the breakdown of proteins.  Proteins are naturally broken down in foods as they age and the cooking, processing and maturing processes all increased amine content.  Amines also increase in content as fruits ripen such as in avocado and bananas.

Where are Amines most commonly found?

There are a variety of different types of amines, both found in foods and also in substances created by our body.  These include;

  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Adrenaline
  • Histamine (eg. wine)
  • Tyramine (eg. Cheese)
  • Phenylethylamine (eg. Chocolate)

The highest amine foods are usually your processed meats, organs, fermented foods, soy sauce and cheeses.  Browning, grilling, charring and overcooking will all increase amine levels.

What is amine sensitivity?

Amine sensitivity is the inability for the body to process an excessive amount of amines at a given time.  The amount of amines a person can handle at any period varies between individuals and there can be a cumulative effect in the body.  A person sensitive to amines may react to certain high amine foods such as cheeses and processed meats.  Those with a defective MAO snp can cause the breakdown of amines to be slowed, increasing the potential for amines to build up in the body causing negative reactions.

Common symptoms of amine sensitivity

Symptoms vary between individuals as can the severity of the reactions.  Amine sensitivity may show itself at any time throughout a person’s life.  Common symptomatic reactions include

·         Migraines and headaches ·         Eczema
·         Behavioural problems in children ·         Inability to focus
·         Aggressive children ·         Hangover type feeling
·         Bet wetting in children ·         Stomach aches
·         High blood pressure ·         Constipation
·         Depression ·         Rhinitis

If you are suffering from some of the above symptoms and feel you may have an amine sensitivity, the best way to assess the situation is a trial for two weeks avoiding foods containing very high and high levels of amines from the list provided.  Symptoms will disappear or greatly reduce if amines are a causative factor.  You could also try the Amine Challenge, increasing amine foods for 3-5 days and see if your symptoms get much worse.  Eg. Eat 2-3 large ripe bananas, cocoa powder and milk, canned sardines, dark chocolate daily and assess your symptoms, you may react after one day or it may take a few days for strong reactions if you are amine sensitive

Amine Content of Common Foods

Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Apple Blackcurrant Dates Avocado Mandarin
Apricot Grapefruit Kiwifruit Banana Pineapple
Peach Honeydew Lime Coconut Plum
Pear Rockmelon Orange Fig Raspberry
Strawberry Passionfruit Grapes
Cherry Pawpaw Lemon


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Asparagus Lettuce Broccoli Eggplant Sauerkraut
Cabbage Onion Cauliflower Mushroom Spinach
Carrot Potato Olives Tomato
Celery Soy Beans Pickles
Corn Turnip
Cucumber Zucchini


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Eggs Canned salmon Aged Meats Anchovies Organ meats
Beef (<2days old) Chicken liver Bacon Beef liver Pate
Fish-white Beef, chicken, lamb > 2 days old Canned sardines Canned tuna Salami
Lamb(<2days old) Frozen fish Fish – smoked Sausages
Turkey Frozen meat Gravy with meat juice Pickled meats Smoked meats
Veal (<2days old) Fresh Tuna Ham / Pork Meat pies


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Cottage cheese Jaalsberg cheese Mild Cheese Blue cheese Mozzarella
Ricotta Cheese Brie cheese Parmesan
Soy Milk Camembert Soy Sauce
Tofu Edam Swiss
Yoghurt Leicester Miso


Negligible Moderate High Very High
Coffee Tea Ale Beer Choc & cola flavoured drinks
Gin Vodka Champagne Port Cocoa / Drinking chocloate
Lemonade Whiskey Sake Wine – red & white Orange juices
Milk Stout Vinegar Vegetable juices


Negligible Low Moderate High Very High
Carob Caramel Brazil Nut Cocoa Dark Chocolate
Golden syrup Almonds Sesame seeds Milk Chocolate Black Walnut
Maple syrup Cashews Sunflower Seeds White Chocolate
Sugar Pistachio Peanuts


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