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.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy


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 section of gouda cheese on a wooden cutting board

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.


Chicken liver.


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


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


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

Nuts and seeds

All nuts.


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


Mincemeat pie.

Yeast and foods made with yeast:

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
Dr. Gourmet