Luteolin & Quercetin

I still get frustrated at the lack of information on the histamine content in foods.  There is barely any research on the subject and I have no idea what information most of the low histamine food lists is based on (my own included).  I found the same when trying to research anti-inflammatory foods.

After listening to Dr Theo’s talk yesterday, and the fact that luteolin and quercetin are mast cell stabilizing compounds, I looked up “high flavanoid foods” and again found very little.  After Googling til my fingers bled, however, I came across this site from the US Department of Agriculture which pools loads of small research studies and lists the information in a table.  Hurrahhh!  I then spent most of the day analysing the data and came up with a list of the highest sources of both luteolin and quercetin from the foods listed (please note, the following table is not exhaustive and there may be other really good sources which aren’t included as they haven’t been involved in research trials).

The top 5 food sources containing both luteolin and quercetin from the data are:

  1. Dried oregano (fresh isn’t half as potent)
  2. Juniper berries
  3. Raw radicchio
  4. Yellow hot chilli peppers
  5. Green hot chilli peppers

The amount of luteolin in dried oregano is staggering: 1028 per 100 mg, the highest source by a mile.  The luteolin in juniper berries is 69 per 100mg, so you can see the difference.  From the data, it appears luteolin is only found in high quantities in a small number of foods, unlike quercetin which is much more readily available.

The top 5 luteolin food sources are:

  1. Dried oregano
  2. Celery seed
  3. Juniper berries
  4. Fresh thyme
  5. Radicchio and chinese celery

The fact that dried oregano is much higher in luteolin than fresh is surprising, as you always think fresh is best.  Celery seed, as against fresh celery, was also interesting.  I then wondered how to incorporate more celery seed into my meals and thought celery salt was worth a try – commercially it’s made up of crushed celery seeds mixed with normal salt, or you can make your own by crushing the seeds and adding them to twice their quantity of regular salt.  Fresh juniper berries are fairly hard to come by here in the UK, but you can get dried – there’s some information on how to use them on the BBC food website.  I haven’t come across chinese celery before, and think it will only be available from Asian grocers here, but obviously radicchio is widely available.

The top 5 quercetin food sources are:

  1. Raw capers
  2. Tinned capers and raw lovage leaves
  3. Elderberry juice concentrate
  4. Raw dock leaves
  5. Raw raddish leaves, wild rocket (arugula), fresh dill weed, fresh coriander (cilantro), fresh fennel bulb (all being much of a muchness)

Eugh, I hate capers so am disappointed they’re both no.1 and no.2 on the list!  Lovage, however, is something easily incorporated into meals, particularly sandwiches and salads.  I was happy to see elderberries at no.3, as I drink Belvoir concentrated elderflower cordial and it’s gorgeous.  Dock leaves are only ever something I fed my rabbit as a kid 😉 .  The herbs and salad vegetables listed at no.5 are all easily added to meals.

There were a few high food sources of quercetin I didn’t include in my table, as I’d never heard of them but my overseas readers might have access to them so I’d recommend you take a look at the original list – all 146 pages of it 😉 .

Here is the table of all the high luteolin and quercetin foods I extracted.  The first group lists foods high in both luteolin and quercetin.  The next group lists foods only high in quercetin and the last group lists foods only high in luteolin.  I only extracted foods which had more than 10 mg/100 of flavanoid.

luteolin quercetin table

I was surprised to see that carob flour was much higher in quercetin that regular cocoa powder (which didn’t even make the list) and I need no more excuse to make more carob chip cookies 😉  Also a surprise was how relatively low down the list kale was, as it’s widely touted online to be an excellent source of quercetin.  Ditto with the “superfood” chia seeds.

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22 thoughts on “Luteolin & Quercetin

  1. naturallymum

    Just a caution. I really upped my quercetin intake with supplements and foods. I then discovered that quercitin is a natural MAO-A inhibitor which is crucial in metabolising tyramine and histamine throiugh the HNMT pathway. So I stopped the supplements and just went with the foods in moderation. It’s all such a finely balanced system!

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks for that C. Dr Theo touches on this balance in his talk and about MAO-A – I’m sure he must have looked into this when making his supplements.

      As you say, as long as you eat a balanced range of foods, and don’t eat excesses of anything, it should be fine. I’d never have known quercetin was in any of these foods if I didn’t have mast cell disease and would just have eaten them regardless x

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    2. Linda

      Great bit of research! Thanks so much. Saved me a lot of work online
      So now I’m off to buy a load of dried oregano tomorrow…!

      Linda (Manchester uk)

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        1. Linda

          Hi again! Just discovered online that Mexican oregano is not the same as European oregano !
          Mexican oregano is from the Lemon Verbena Family (while the European oregano is part of the Mint Family). Mexican is much more pungent to taste. Is available on Ebay. Phew !
          Best wishes, Linda.

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  2. Elizabeth Milo

    How funny that you’ve posted this and I just left a comment on your other post asking if you were incorporating some of these foods into your diet. Great minds. 🙂

    I’ve eat a lot of capers, rocket, fennel bulb, celery seed (I add it to veggies and salads), thyme, dill. We just planted lovage and I have a huge oregano plant and a dehydrator, so I’ll get to drying. I decided to ignore the dock leaves when I read about those. 😉

    I find it interesting that in Mexican foods there’s so many hot peppers which help to counteract the salsa and guacamole and in Italian food, the oregano (and capers?) counteracts the tomato sauces… It’s all about the big picture.

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  3. Erin Schwarze

    Reblogged this on Erin Schwarze and commented:
    MCAD Frustrations with eliminations of high histamine foods. I haven’t even begun to process the foods I need to cut out. I haven’t even made a food diary yet. I guess with so much going on I’ve been putting on backburner. However, I think it’s time to start one soon.

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  4. Vicky

    Hi Jak

    Elderflower cordial and elderberry juice concentrate are two different things; the cordial being made from just the flowers and the juice from the berries. Do you think it’s actually in the flower cordial?

    You can make a cordial from the berries yourself although I’ve never tried due to being scared about poisoning myself (the cordial is popular in Germanic countries as a flu/cold remedy). Belvoir Spiced Winter Berries Cordial (may be nice hot?!) has it mixed with other berries and sounds rather nice. Otherwise Sambucol liquid supplement from Holland and Barrett is the concentrate mixed with Vit C & Zinc (not sure what types of the latter vit/min as haven’t checked).

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    1. Jak Post author

      Hi Vicky

      I am aware flowers and berries are two different things – the flowers appear in spring and in autumn turn into the berries. Both the flowers and berries have been used medicianally throughout history.

      Jak

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  5. Annette

    Hi, thanks for another great post and for picking out all those useful numbers for us from the big document! With 2 young boys under the age of 3 I unfortunately don’t get much chance to do all the Googling that I really desperately want to do! I’ve been meaning to research quercetin myself. I had heard that redbush/rooibos tea and red onions are high in quercetin so have been incorporating more of those. Redbush tea is nice and really easy to drink on a daily basis! I’m a bit disheartened by the fact that many of the foods that you discovered are also high in histamine and so I won’t dare touch them (preserved capers, rocket, carob, dill, kale). I also worry about foods high in salicylate (herbs) and oxalates, but I have no idea whether these chemicals are really a problem for me! I’m still confused about what’s going on in my silly body and also worry about whether I have issues with methylation or sulphoxidation but I do believe that limiting my carbohydrate intake seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Despite all the worry we still have to eat, right!?

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    1. Jak Post author

      Hi Annette

      The whole area is a minefield and to be honest because these are newly emerging disease barely any research has been done, so no-one else is any the wiser either. I’m interested in why you think rocket, dill, kale and carob are high in histamine? Do you have a link to the research on that? Kale, in particular, is widely touted as being excellent on a low histamine diet as far as I’m aware.

      I can’t help with the methylation or salicylate avenues as it’s not something I’ve explored. I eat as wide a range of food as I can. You have to bare in mind that food is just *one* trigger for mast cell disease, others include emotions, stress, moulds, chemicals, environmental pollutants, hormones……..just about anything really! You could live on a diet of raw cabbage and water and still be reacting to your laundry detergent or pollen, so I personally try to keep my attitude towards food balanced in relation to everything else.

      Jak x

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  6. brittany

    It pleases me that a blog like this exists! I have EDS, Chiari Malformation, Scoliosis, Degenerative disc disease, and a lot of other exciting stuff. The relevant other issue being MCAD. Interestingly enough, I noticed relief from my constant dizziness, nausea, and brain fog when I took a zantac which led me to believe the majority of my symptoms were coming from MCAD and not the Chiari Malformation – structural abnormality likely caused by the EDS. Unfortunately, when I went to take it the next day it just didn’t work. Strange. Really fascinating and irritating at the same time. I’m thinking all of these issues are probably stemmed from a leaky gut caused by EDS- hyper intestinal permeability and that this permeability causes all sorts of toxins to filter through the membrane which provokes systemic inflammation as your body tries to get it under control. The only other one thing that gave me relief was an antibiotic, which was probably killing the toxins in my gut that were leeching through, but again, by the next day the relief started dwindling. Treatment plans seem exhausting with MCAD as you can become allergic to even the treatment. Don’t get me started on perfumes….. grr…. Well, end rant. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I will be an avid follower.
    -B

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    1. Jak Post author

      Hi Brittany

      So sorry to hear of everything you’re dealing with, that’s a lot to have on your plate 😦 For me my drug allergies make treating my MCAD almost impossible – my stomach and nausea was loads better when I was able to take an H2 antihistamine, but then I became allergic to it and I’m in stomach hell again. As you say, soooo frustrating! Jak x

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