Histamine in Provolone: What’s the Limit?

When it comes to cheese, there are a lot of variables to consider. One of those is the histamine content. For people with histamine intolerance, that can be a big issue.

So, what’s the limit on how much histamine they can consume? Let’s take a closer look at provolone and histamine.

Amount of Histamine Intake In A Day

As there is no such thing as histamine-free diets (1), having a general idea of the histamine content in different foods is important.

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Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have stated 20 mg per 100g of serving is the appropriate histamine hazard level for a healthy individual (2).

Several other sources (3, 4) also suggested that 6-25 mg/meal of histamine intake is a safe level.

In other words, the safe level of histamine intake is below 25 mg /100g for a healthy person in a meal.

For histamine intolerance persons however, the current studies did not have a conclusive answer for the safe histamine level.

The recommended method by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is to determine if foods without a detectable amount of histamine can be considered safe for intolerant people (5).

Okay, now we just have to look at whether the provolone has a “detectable” amount of histamine.

Histamine in Provolone – Okay to eat?

Yes, not only does provolone have a detectable level of histamine, other cheeses like cheddar, brie, camembert, Colby, Roquefort, gouda, mozzarella, and Swiss cheese were all showed a detectable amount of histamine level (6).

According to the EFSA statement above, they are not safe for histamine intolerant persons.

The amount of histamine in provolone is up to 23.5 mg/100 g. That’s about 4x compared to cheddar, 8x to Colby, 5x to camembert, and 5x to mozzarella (6).

For people with histamine intolerance, that could be a problem. So, it’s better to avoid it.

Why Provolone is High Histamine?

Like other cheeses, provolone is a hard cheese that ages for 2-12 months or longer. In general, fermented foods have a high amount of histamine – chocolate, wine, cheese, kimchi, vinegar, and everything.

The answer to this is not fully clear. However, there are some possible explanations:

  • The aging process can increase the histamine content in foods (like wine and cheese) as histidine decarboxylase enzyme activity increases with age (8).
  • The presence of lactic acid bacteria can lead to an increase in histamine production (7).
  • Additives, such as sulfites and nitrites, used for preservation can cause a similar reaction to those of histamines reactions (9).

Wrap up

Provolone has a detectable & high level of histamine. For people with histamine intolerance, that could be a problem as the safe amount of histamine intake is below 25 mg/100g for a healthy person in a meal.

So it’s best to avoid provolone in your diet. Consult your doctor if you’re not sure about which foods are safe for you.

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