27 Foods That Can Trigger Migraines

Teri Robert | Aug 16, 2013

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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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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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This warning actually extends to anything that has been pickled – eggs, beets, olives, vegetables, peppers, cucumbers, etc.

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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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The tyramine in olives is believed to be a trigger of migraines.

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Dried fruits

Dried fruits contain sulfites, which are thought to be the reason they can be a migraine trigger.

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The tyramine in avocados has been linked to migraines.

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Red plums

Again, blame it on the tyramine.

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The tyramine and histamine in bananas are thought to be the reason they can be migraine triggers.

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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

A naturally occurring chemical called coumarin in yeast may be why it’s a migraine trigger.

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The yeast in the crust of pizza can be a migraine trigger.

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Soft pretzels

Once again, yeast is suspected as the reason soft pretzels can be migraine triggers.

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Processed meats

The tyramine and preservatives in processed meats have been linked to triggering migraines.

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As with processed meats, the tyramine and preservatives in bacon are suspected as migraine culprits.

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Hot dogs

Same thing with hot dogs – tyramine and preservatives.

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Ditto with sausages – tyramine and preservatives.

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Aged cheeses

The tyramine in aged cheeses is thought to be the reason they can be migraine triggers.

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Sour cream

Choline in sour cream may be the reason it can be a migraine trigger.

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Whole milk

Choline and casein in whole milk have been blamed for triggering migraines.

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Tyramine is thought to be at least part of the problem if alcohol is a migraine trigger.

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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

Phenylethylamine, tannin, and caffeine may be the culprits when chocolate is a migraine trigger.

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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

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

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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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

A naturally occurring chemical called coumarin in yeast may be why it’s a migraine trigger.