Migraine Triggers

27 Foods That Can Trigger Migraines

Teri Robert Aug 16, 2013 (updated Oct 31, 2014)
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It can be frustrating to manage food triggers. It can seem especially difficult to eat in a restaurant or go to parties. But, when managing food triggers means fewer migraines, it's well worth it. Here are foods that can cause problems.

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Beans
Beans
 All kinds of beans are potential food triggers – string beans, navy beans, kidney beans, lima beans and so on. The tannin in beans is thought to be the culprit.
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Pickles
Pickles
This warning actuallys extends to anything that has been pickled – eggs, beets, olives, vegetables, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
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Chili peppers
Chili peppers
The capsaicin in chili peppers can be a migraine trigger. In fact, it’s sometimes used in research to trigger migraines.
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Olives
Olives
The tyramine in olives is believed to be a trigger of migraines. 
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Dried fruits
Dried fruits
Dried fruits contain sulfites, which are thought to be the reason they can be a migraine trigger.
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Avocado
Avocado
The tyramine in avocados has been linked to migraines. 
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Red plums
Red plums
Again, blame it on the tyramine. 
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Bananas
Bananas
The tyramine and histamine in bananas are thought to be the reason they can be migraine triggers.
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Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits
That combination of tyramine and histamine are thought to be the reason citrus fruits can be migraine triggers.
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Yeast breads
Yeast breads
A naturally occurring chemical called coumarin in yeast may be why it’s a migraine trigger.
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Pizza
Pizza
The yeast in the crust of pizza can be a migraine trigger.
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Soft pretzels
Soft pretzels
Once again, yeast is suspected as the reason soft pretzels can be migraine triggers. 
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Processed meats
Processed meats
The tyramine and preservatives in processed meats have been linked to triggering migraines. 
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Bacon
Bacon
As with processed meats, the tyramine and preservatives in bacon are suspected as migraine culprits. 
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Hot dogs
Hot dogs
Same thing with hot dogs--tyramine and preservatives. 
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Sausage
Sausage
Ditto with sausages--tyramine and preservatives. 
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Aged cheeses
Aged cheeses
The tyramine in aged cheeses is thought to be the reason they can be migraine triggers.
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Sour cream
Sour cream
Choline in sour cream may be the reason it can be a migraine trigger.
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Whole milk
Whole milk
Choline and casein in whole milk have been blamed for triggering migraines. 
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Alcohol
Alcohol
Tyramine is thought to be at least part of the problem if alcohol is a migraine trigger.
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Red wine
Red wine
Tyramine and sulfites are thought to be responsible if red wine is a migraine trigger. Tannin may also be a problem.
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Chocolate beverages
Chocolate beverages
Phenylethylamine, tannin, and caffeine may be the culprits when chocolate is a migraine trigger.
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Caffeine
Caffeine
Caffeine is a paradox. For some people, it can trigger a migraine; yet, those very same people can benefit from caffeine in and with medications because it helps them work more quickly and efficiently.
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Anything with MSG
Anything with MSG
The newest theory on MSG as a migraine trigger connects it to the TRESK gene, which is activated by glutamate.
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Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners
Excitotoxins, which cause neurons to fire spasmodically, are thought to be the reason artificial sweeteners can be migraine triggers. It’s worth noting that all artificial sweeteners are triggers for some people, while others can use some sweeteners, but not others.
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Vinegar
Vinegar
The tyramine in red and balsamic vinegar is thought to be the reason they’re potential migraine triggers. White vinegar is usually not a trigger and contains no tyramine.
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Fresh yeast products
Fresh yeast products
A naturally occurring chemical called coumarin in yeast may be why it’s a migraine trigger.