What is Tyramine?

Tyramine is a naturally occurring substance in foods

Tyramine is produced in foods with the natural breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine(1). It is thought to cause the dilation and contraction of blood vessels. In other words, as high protein food ages in your refrigerator, tyramine is produced. This is particularly  important for people prone to migraines since high levels of tyramine can be a significant migraine trigger.

For example, aged cheese has extremely high levels of tyramine since it has aged for a very long time. I generally do not eat refrigerated food after three days. If I know that it is going to take me more than three days to finish a dish, I put it in the freezer.

how do you limit tyramine?

It can be difficult to cut back on certain items that are high in tyramine, like red wine and that parmesan cheese but it is the only way if you want to minimize your migraine episodes. However, you need to make sure that you do not take other offending items at the same time.

A personal example

I had made too much beef stew when we were only two people eating. Obviously, the result was a lot of leftovers which went into the refrigerator. I ate the leftovers for three days without any issues. However, on day four, I developed a migraine and I now know that I did a couple of things wrong. First, I should not have made so much food since we were only two people eating. Second, given the large amount, I should have portioned off the stew in Tupperware and placed the containers in the freezer. This way I could enjoy the stew after several weeks and would not have to worry about headaches or growing bored by eating the same dish every day.

Below you will find some of the foods and drinks with the highest concentration of tyramine

  • Beer
  • Red wine
  • Ale
  • Homemade bread
  • Cheese
  • Salami
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Bananas
  • Red plums
  • Avocados
  • Fava Beans
  • Commercial Gravies
  • Eggplant
  • Pickled foods
  • Liver
  • Dry sausage
  • Canned Meats
  • Chocolate
  • Soy Sauce

(1) NATIONAL HEADACHE FOUNDATION, ”Low Tyramine Headache Diet*”, http://www.headaches.org


Add yours
  1. 1
    D Harvey

    Thank you for this information. Is it possible that the same can be said for elevating of blood pressure? I’ve noticed both a headache and elevation of my blood pressure after eating watermelon…

    • 2

      You are most welcome. First, in terms of goat cheese, it is of a significantly milder variety which may explain some of it. Bread contains gluten, yeast, and other leavening agents that can be problematic for us. Bananas are not only high in histamine/tyramine as part of natural aging, but also tend to be high even when ripe (green). Yoghurt is interesting because it contains a high amount of lactobacillus bacteria which tend to be very good for our digestive systems. Therefore, if you are able to eat yoghurt, I would expect that mild cheddar cheese could also be tolerated, also increasing lactobacillus in your small intestine. That is positive and, as long as the yoghurt is plain, will help balance your gut flora overall. Eggplant/ pickled foods are high in tyramine, and I am not sure why there would be no reaction. You should include eggplant over a period over several days, daily on its own, to understand whether this constitutes a trigger. Not everyone reacts to chocolate and perhaps in your case, small amounts tend to be OK.

  2. 3
    Mitch B Williams

    Not sure what to make of this list when looking at my results? :
    Red wine-problem
    Homemade bread-problem
    Cheese(goat cheese-no problem)
    Yogurt-no problem
    Sour cream-problem
    Red plums-no problem
    Avocados-no problem
    Fava Beans-problem
    Commercial Gravies-?
    Eggplant-no problem
    Pickled foods-no problem
    Dry sausage-problem
    Canned Meats-problem
    Chocolate-no problem
    Soy Sauce-problem
    Thanks for this list. It has prompted me to start a journal.

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