Foods that trigger headaches

By | May 24, 2013

For many headache and migraine sufferers, certain foods can act as triggers.

We received this question from a viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,
I've noticed that whenever I eat red grapes I get a headache. Could there be something in them that is causing this to happen?
Thanks, Jay

Alvarez said grapes are low in calories and rich in vitamin C and fiber, so they are a nutritional snack. But they also contain a substance called tyramine, a naturally occurring amino acid that forms from the breakdown of protein in food as it ages.

Tyramine can cause your blood pressure to rise, which can trigger headaches in some people.

If you experience this reaction, you may want to avoid other trigger foods, such as:
• Smoked or cured meats
• Aged cheeses
• Citrus fruits
• Sauerkraut
• Soy sauce
• Red wine
• And certain beers

Research shows that tyramine in grapes can have a negative effect on certain antidepressants called MAOIs.  Patients taking these medications should talk to their doctor about their diet. Keeping a food diary to see if you may be sensitive to tyramine-rich foods could also help.

The bottom line: Learn what your triggers are – so that you can avoid them.

If you have a question, email

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