It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Are there any foods or food groups that contribute to migraine headaches? Are there any foods or food groups that assuage migraine headaches?
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 the package says aged, dried, fermented, salted, smoked, or pickled, you should suspect that this food is high in tyramine.
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.
Salted fish, dried herring, cod, camlin, pickled herring. Shrimp paste.
Yogurt, sour cream, egg.
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
Fava or broad beans, sauerkraut, pickles, olives. Any fermented soy products like miso, tamari, soy sauce, or teriyaki sauce.
All alcoholic and fermented beverages. Ale, beer, Chianti, sherry, sauterne, Riesling, red wines, champagne.
Homemade bread. Yeast extracts, soup cubes, canned meats, mincemeat pie. Marmite and products containing marmite.
Canned figs, bananas, raisins, avocados.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS