Foods That Cause Migraines


Many foods can be linked to triggering headaches and migraines. Foods associated with migraines contain a natural substance or food additives--sometimes a combination of both--that contribute to the onset of migraines. Knowing which foods contain ingredients that are migraine triggers can be the first step to reducing the occurrence of migraines.

Natural Migraine Contributing Substance

Tyramine is a natural substance found in protein-based foods. Tyramine forms from the breakdown of protein, and can trigger severe hypertension resulting in migraines.

Foods Containing Tyramine

The following foods contain high levels of tyramine and should be avoided by migraine sufferers:

Avocados Bananas Beef liver Blue cheese Bologna Canned soup Camembert cheese Cheddar cheese Chicken liver Dates Dried figs Fava beans Garbanzo beans Kiwi Lima beans Nuts Olives Onions Papaya Peanut butter Pepperoni Pineapple Pinto beans Raisins Raspberries Red plums Roquefort cheese Salami Sauerkraut Soy sauce Spinach Stilton cheese Summer sausage Swiss cheese Teriyaki Tofu Tomatoes Yeast Yeast extracts

Food Additives Proven to Contribute to Migraines

Nitrates, nitrites, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt, aspartame, meat tenderizer and soy sauce are food preservatives that have the ability to dilate blood vessels and cause migraines. Most processed foods contain additives; while some contain minuscule amounts, others contain as many additives as the original product.

Foods Containing Food Additives

The following foods typically are abundant in food additives and should be avoided by people who suffer from frequent migraines:

Bacon Cured meat Deli meat Hot dogs Ham Luncheon meat Oriental foods Pepperoni Pickles Processed meat Red wine Sausage Whiskey

Dairy Products Can Trigger Migraines

The protein found in milk is a known allergenic for many people. This protein--casein--creates histamines, which in turn are responsible for the production of mucus. Excessive mucus puts pressure on brain membranes, which can trigger migraines.

Dairy Products to Avoid

Dairy products may contribute to migraines for many people. To see if dairy products trigger migraines, avoid the following:

Cheese (all types) Ice cream Milk Sour cream Yogurt


Every person who experiences migraines may have different triggers; therefore, avoiding all foods listed may not be entirely necessary. For this reason, it is recommended to determine triggers through an elimination process. Eliminate all foods listed for four to six weeks, then add one food each week. Any unpleasant side effects noticed upon reintroducing a food would indicate a food to avoid.

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