Apples and Onions

Apples & Onions

… with natural antihistamines?

Quercetin, a compound found in many plants, is a flavonoid and an antioxidant with many valuable properties. It’s readily available in natural foods, especially apples and onions.

  • Quercetin is an antioxidant, and may promote good health by decreasing or even helping to prevent some of the damage free radicals do to our bodies.
  • It may help guard against heart disease and cancer.
  • It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • In addition, quercetin may have an antihistamine effect by aiding in the stabilization of histamine-releasing cells in our bodies.

In laboratory tests, quercetin stops immune cells from releasing histamine. If this mechanism also works in living humans, then quercetin would be a valuable aid in reducing symptoms of allergies such as –

  • itchy skin
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • hives
  • sneezing
  • wheezing, shortness of breath

Quercetin can be bought in the form of a dietary supplement (capsules, pills etc.).  In the form of supplements it is generally considered safe, however the University of Maryland cautions people against taking more than the recommended dose. It is possible to harm your health by overdosing on quercetin supplements, but it’s unlikely you could eat enough apples or onions to cause any problems!

You can eat apples and onions raw or cooked – you’ll still get the benefits of quercetin. Cooking can change the levels of quercetin in foods, but not enough to worry about. For example, in a study on onions,  “Baking and sautéing produced a 7–25% gain in quercetin concentration, while boiling produced an 18% decrease in quercetin concentration.”

So grab an apple now, or slice up an onion for a salad, and enjoy crunching on a nutritious fruit or vegetable that may help reduce your histamine intolerance symptoms!


References:

[Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 18, Issue 6, September 2005, Pages 571–581 Quercetin in onion (Allium cepa L.) after heat-treatment simulating home preparation. Kevin Lombard, Ellen Peffley, Emanuel Geoffriau, Leslie Thompson, Andy Herring. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2004.03.027]

 

 

 

 

 

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Fresh Figs – a low histamine fruit

FigsFresh Figs: delicious and low-histamine

Figs are one of the fruits to be enjoyed on a low histamine diet.

There are hundreds of fig varieties, but only a few are usually found in farms and markets.  Figs come in a range of colors from pale yellow, yellowish-green or brown to red or purple or even almost black. They may be striped or speckled, and their pulp varies widely in colour, too.

“The taste of a good fig, a tree-ripened, freshly-picked fig, is sublime. Many people these days have only ever tried figs bought from a supermarket, and finding the flavour and texture unpleasant, have believed thereafter that they don’t like figs. Do not judge figs on the frequently poor quality ones available commercially.

“A ripe, fresh fig should be tender and slightly soft. When you bite into it, a surge of silky, juicy, sweet, rich flavour fills your mouth. It is like jam eaten straight out of the jar, only infinitely more subtle and complex, with overtones of honey and flowers. When you look at the interior of the fruit from which you have taken a bite, you’ll see dense fringes of flowerlets lapped in a luscious, glistening syrup.”

Source: Figs: Rare and Heritage Fruit Cultivars #13

People who suffer from histamine intolerance should eat only fresh figs recently picked, or figs which have been frozen and recently defrosted in the refrigerator. (Dried figs are not part of the Strictly Low Histamine diet).

The National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia and Pick Your Own advise on how to freeze fresh figs:

How to ‘Wet Freeze’ Figs

Freeze within 12 hours of picking time, if possible.  Prepare and freeze figs only about 1 1/2 litres (3 pints) at one time. Then repeat the process until all figs are frozen.

  1. Make a medium sweetness syrup by mixing 3 cups sugar with 4 cups water. Simply stir the sugar into the water to dissolve. No heating is necessary.
  2. Optional step: To the sugar syrup, add an citric/ascorbic add mixture bought at the grocery store (for example, “Fruit Fresh”) and follow the directions on the package, generally adding about 1 teaspoon per batch.  This helps preserve colour and flavour.
  3. Wash the figs. remove the stems and any soft spots. Slice the figs about 1/2 cm (¼-inch) thick.
  4. Pack the sliced figs into polyethylene containers, ziploc bags, or vacuum freezer bags, allowing room to add about 1/2 cup of sugar syrup, and allowing about 1/2 inch per pint expansion room. More room will be needed for larger containers. Pack the containers to force out as much air as possible since air dries out the figs when they freeze. Be sure to label and date containers.
  5. Place containers as quickly as possible into the coldest part of your freezer, allowing room around the containers to promote fast freezing. Containers can be packed more economically after they are frozen solid, usually 24 hours.

When you are ready to eat them, thaw the frozen figs in the refrigerator in the container.

How to ‘Dry Freeze’ Figs

To prevent darkening of light colored figs, dissolve 3/4 teaspoon (2250 mg) of ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons cold water and sprinkle over 1 quart of fruit. Pack figs into containers, leaving some ‘headspace’.

These nutritious fruits (which are really flowers turned inside out) can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory recipes.

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