Top Foods with Mold to Avoid + Why

by | Mar 11, 2024 | Blog, General Wellness

The other day I had some pistachios. Sounds nice, right?! Not so much. I felt pretty rough after. You’ve guessed it right: mold contamination.

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that has the ability to grow and thrive just about anywhere under various conditions. Warm, moist, and damp environments are particularly great places to grow. Some types of mold love to grow indoors, other types prefer the outdoors, and some can be found both indoors and outdoors. 

Though mold is a common issue in old and unkempt buildings, it may affect newer buildings too. Mold can hide in your bathroom, kitchen, basement, under carpeting, and behind wallpaper. Mold issues are particularly prevalent in old or unkempt buildings. It can also affect your food and, as you will learn, hide in your food even without you noticing it (1). 

The Problem with Mold Mycotoxins

Mold releases mycotoxins in the air. Unfortunately, mold mycotoxins can travel and spread very far very quickly. Mold growth may start in one small corner of your bathtub, but its microscopic spores can travel and spread far very quickly, invading your entire home. Similarly, at first, mold may be just a small dot on your bread, but give it a day, and your entire bread will be moldy. 

Mold mycotoxins can cause allergies and other uncomfortable symptoms. Chronic exposure to any of these mold mycotoxins can seriously impact your health and cause various symptoms and diseases. You may learn more about mold illness here.

Signs of Mold Toxicity

Signs and symptoms of mold toxicity may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Symptoms of allergies
  • Asthma flare-ups 
  • Chronic sinus congestion or runny nose
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Throat pain
  • Coughing
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin infections, rashes, and other skin issues
  • Nose bleeds
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nausea or digestive issues
  • Brain fog
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Histamine intolerance or mast cell activation issues
  • Mood changes

Sources of Mold Toxicity

Mold may hide in your home in various areas, including:

  • In the bathroom, including the tile and walls
  • In your kitchen
  • In your basement
  • Behind wallpaper or old paint
  • Under the carpet or rugs 
  • On your clothes
  • In the vent of your air conditioner or heater
  • Any water-damaged areas

Mold can also affect your food. In the next sections, you will learn about the top foods with mold and how to prevent health issues related to high-mold foods. 

Top Foods with Mold

Let’s look at the top high-mold foods.

Dried Fruits

Who doesn’t love dates, figs, raisins, prunes, and dried apricots? They can be a great addition to trail mixes, fruit salads, salads, and oatmeal. Unfortunately, they are some of the top high-mold foods out there (2).

Fresh fruits are naturally high in moisture. This means that they can easily attract mold spores during the prepping and drying process. With time, mold mycotoxins can grow and multiply, infecting the entire bag of dried fruit. 

Dried fruits are also high in sugar. Do you know what loves sugar? Not just you, but unfortunately, mold does too. Sugar molecules in dried fruits can attract and feed mold, allowing them to thrive and multiply.


Mold is not the only issue with grains. Gluten-filled grains can increase food sensitivities, food allergies, digestive issues, and inflammation. The high sugar and carbohydrate content in bread, pasta, and other grainy foods may also increase the risk of blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance. Moreover, grains also attract mold growth (6).

There are so many stages of pasta, bread, and other grain production that may attract mold and toxins, including the growing, storage, treatment, and manufacturing stages. Though many governments have regulations on how much mold mycotoxins can be in their grains to make them safe for human consumption, it may not be enough. Many grain foods are also high in sugar, which can attract mold.


Corn is another common food that is found in most of our food products (7). Mold spores can easily come in contact with corn during the growing process. To grow mold, you also need lots of moisture, and corn is a moisture-rich vegetable. This means that mold can grow and spread easier. 

Moreover, mold can come in contact with corn during storage, manufacturing, and packaging too. On top of all this, corn is one of the top allergens and is commonly used in food-like packaged products. High-fructose corn syrup and other corn sugars are hiding in most overly processed packaged foods. Mold is clearly not the only reason to be careful with this high-mold food.

Processed Foods and Meat

Again, there are a lot of issues with overly processed foods and processed meat. They can cause inflammation and all kinds of chronic health issues. They may also be laden with mold mycotoxins.

Processed foods are often high in sugar, attracting mold. They often contain corn and grains as well. Again, high-mold foods. Storage, manufacturing, and packaging may also attract mold growth. Animals raised for processed meat products may also be fed with mold mycotoxin-contaminated food and grains and the manufacturing process of processed meat may also attract mold growth (8).


You may feel like I’m trying to take away all your fun. But your after-work drink may also be adding to your mold issues. It depends on the type of alcohol, though. Beer and wine are at high risk of being contaminated with mold. The fermentation process involves yeast, mold, and sugars. That says it all. And mold loves alcohol, so it will multiply. 

Some alcohols, such as vodka, tequila, and some spirits, are at lower risk. However, since all contain some form of fruit or grain, there is always some risk. Yet another reason to drink in moderation only or not at all (9).


This may be obvious. Certain cheeses are known for being moldy cheeses. Blue cheese, Roquefort, camembert, and brie are made with the presence of mold. It gives them a distinct look and taste.

However, it’s not just these cheeses that can be high-mold foods. Cheese, in general, turns into a favorable environment for mold growth. There is moisture and nutrients from dairy. And if you are not careful with storage, cheese can easily go bad and moldy (10).


Condiments can be a fun way to ‘dress up’ your meals and salads. Unfortunately, ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, and other condiments can be high-mold foods. Issues may occur during manufacturing. However, improper storage and temperatures can also lead to issues (11). Condiments are usually overly processed and are filled with sugar and additives. Leaving packaged condiments behind may be for the better.


Yes, coffee can be a high-mold too. I know, it’s sad news. Coffee beans and mold, unfortunately, love the same humid environment. During the growing and storage period, it’s not unusual for the two to meet. This may mean that you end up with mold mycotoxins in your morning Joe (12).

Though companies are not required to test for mycotoxins in the coffee batch, some trusted companies do test for it. Buying high-quality coffee from trusted companies that test may help to reduce mold toxicity, but there are never any guarantees.


First coffee, now tea. You are probably not surprised. Black and pu-erh tea are especially high-risk for being high-mold drinks because of the fermentation process they go through. Pu-erh tea is matured with the help of the wet piling method that uses fungal contamination, which, of course, encourages mold and mycotoxin growth. You may even notice a musty, moldy taste when drinking pu-erh tea (13).

Black tea also goes through a fermentation process. Fortunately, organic green tea goes through a milder fermentation procedure and has a lower risk of being contaminated with mold. Green tea is also high in phytochemicals and herbal tea is high in all kinds of nutrients. They may be better options if you want to reduce mold issues while experiencing the therapeutic benefits of tea (14).


Cacao beans are similar to coffee beans in many ways. They grow in tropical areas that invite mold growth. They can get contaminated with mold mycotoxins during the growing process, storage, and production (15). 

Since chocolate brands don’t test for mold mycotoxin levels, keeping dark chocolate in your diet means some risks and self-experimentation with brands. I recommend staying away from milk chocolate, chocolate candy bars, and other chocolate processed desserts. They are high in sugar, invite mold growth, and are also highly inflammatory.


Just like mold, mushrooms are also in the fungi family. However, edible mushrooms can be incredibly nutritious and healthy. Some are even touted as superfoods. The problem is that because of the familiar environment, mold spores can easily live and spread on mushrooms. They both thrive in a similar moist environment after all (16).

Peanuts and Nuts

This may be the end of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Aflatoxins are a common mycotoxin widely present in peanuts and peanut products, including peanut butter. Aflatoxins can also be found in other crops outside of peanuts, including corn, cottonseed, and tree nuts. 

Yes, I’m afraid, even tree nuts, including pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, and cashews, can be contaminated with mold mycotoxins. Mold contamination may occur during any growing, production, and storage (17, 18).

Old Food

You probably already know this, but if a food is old, expired, or not stored properly, mold can start growing on it, even if it wasn’t contaminated with it during growing, production, and packaging. Paying attention to expiration dates, not keeping leftovers too long, and storing your food properly are critical. Always examine your food. Check for visible moldy spots or other signs of mold, such as an odd smell, color, or texture.

Low-Mold Diet

To reduce mold exposure and support your body’s recovery, I recommend leaving high-mold foods behind and following a low-mold diet. Here is what I recommend:

Follow a Nutrient-Dense, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

To reduce mold exposure and support your body’s recovery from mold toxicity, I recommend following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, whole-food diet. Avoid refined sugar, gluten, grains, refined oil, corn, and overly processed foods that are either at risk of mold contamination or promote mold mycotoxin growth. Eat plenty of organic greens, vegetables, sprouts, herbs, low-glycemic index fruits, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised dairy and eggs, wild-caught fish and seafood, and wild game.

Stay Away from High-Mold Foods

Following a low-mold diet means staying away from high-mold foods listed in the section earlier. Reducing mold mycotoxin exposure from high-mold foods will allow your body to restore health and regain balance. This is particularly important since mold exposure can come from many places, not just food but your home and work environment too. Avoiding mold exposure as much as possible gives recovery the best chance.

Support Your Gut 

Support your gut with a high-quality probiotic supplement to improve your microbiome after mold exposure. Unless you have histamine intolerance, eat probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha (19). Add some prebiotic-rich foods, such as Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, apples, and jicama, to support probiotic action.

Support Your Body with Antifungal Foods

Try some mold and fungus-fighting herbs in your diet and/or as supplements, including garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and turmeric. You may also try some coconut oil or organic raw honey to find fungal issues (20, 21, 22, 23, 24).

Support Your Body to Detoxify from Mold

Support your body’s mold detoxification process with some other strategies. Drink plenty of water to support your body’s cleansing process. Move your body regularly and try infrared sauna treatments to aid detoxification through sweating. Try activated charcoal for short periods, which can absorb toxins and help eliminate them (25). Take glutathione to support mitochondrial health and recovery from mold toxicity (26). 

Seek Mold Testing and Support

If you’ve been exposed to mold or have noticed symptoms, I recommend getting tested for mold toxicity, as well as allergy testing. Seek the services of a qualified health professional to assist with testing and recovery in more complicated cases. Book a consultation to get personalized help from me here

Next Steps

If you are dealing with symptoms of mold illness or other chronic health issues, I recommend that you speak with your doctors first for more personalized health information and support. I invite you to schedule a consultation with me here to see if you can benefit from the strategies listed in this article. 

If you are dealing with any chronic health issues, for advice on how to improve your nutrition and health, I welcome you to start a functional medicine consultation with me for further personalized guidance. You may book your consultation here

Learn more about working with Dr. Gannage