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Ask Dr. Gourmet



What Foods Cause Migraines?

Are there any foods or food groups that contribute to migraine headaches? Are there any foods or food groups that assuage migraine headaches?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a Gouda cheese wedge and a small slice of cheese on a cracker

There are no foods that have been definitively shown to help relieve migraines. We do have some evidence that foods that are high in tyramine can provoke migraine. Here's a list of some foods that are high in tyramine. In general, if it says aged, dried, fermented, salted, smoked or pickled, you should suspect that this is high in tyramine.

Meat

Cured meats like ham, bacon, salami, pepperoni, liverwurst, summer sausage, Genoa salami.

Beef or calves liver. Meats prepared with meat tenderizer. Prepared gravies or meat extracts.

Poultry

Chicken liver.

Fish

Salted fish, dried herring, cod, camlin, pickled herring. Shrimp paste.

Dairy

Yogurt, sour cream, egg.

Aged cheese

Low in Tyramine:
If you get migraines, the best cheese for you is farmers cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese - all young cheeses.

High in Tyramine:
Blue cheese, boursault, brick, brie, camembert, cheddar, emmenthaler, gouda, mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, romano, Roquefort, stilton, gruyere

Vegetables

Fava or broad beans, sauerkraut, pickles, olives. Any fermented soy products like miso, tamari, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

Nuts and seeds

All nuts.

Beverages

All alcoholic and fermented beverages. Ale, beer, Chianti, sherry, sauterne, Riesling, red wines, champagne.

Desserts/sweets:

Mincemeat pie.

Yeast and foods made with yeast:

Homemade bread. Yeast extracts, soup cubes, canned meats, mincemeat pie. Marmite and products containing marmite.

Fruit

Canned figs, bananas, raisins, avocados.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet