Watermelon is wonderful this time of year – sweet, juicy, and crunchy. If you are out grilling during the summer holidays, it can be a perfect dessert. If you can get watermelon that is cold, it is even better. Consuming watermelon is also great from a health standpoint. The vegetable contains lycopene which is said to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Unfortunately, migraine sufferers can experience increased migraine episodes from watermelon.
Yes – watermelon may not be safe if you suffer from migraines!
Several health websites, including those of some prominent Universities, state that watermelon is safe to eat for those of us with migraines. This is only true under certain conditions as the fruit cannot be too ripe or unripe – it has to be perfect. The problem with perfect is that it does not leave a comfortable margin of error. As with other foods, aging is a real problem for those of us with migraines. After a certain period of time, sugars are broken down into alcohol and CO2. This process of decay also produces a biogenic amine called tyramine, which can be a migraine sufferer’s worst nightmare.
So what does “Unsafe” watermelon actually look like?
When a watermelon is a pale shade of green or white, it is unripe. If you consume it at this stage, you experience an acidic taste. For migraine sufferers, the increase in acidity may cause a migraine headache.
If the watermelon is too ripe, it develops dark red soft spots as in the picture shown below.
It will also have light pink/white indentations that may or may not contain seeds. It also tastes too sweet, with a slight bitter after taste. If you see any of these spots, throw the watermelon in the trash. The spots are indicating that the vegetable is high in tyramine. When you cut the watermelon in half, it should be the same pink color across. If it is too red, it is also a cause for concern. You also need to make sure that the inside is not bleeding out into the shell as shown below.
Proper way to reduce the risk of a migraine
- Don’t buy too much!
- Cut the watermelon up immediately when you bring it home from the grocery store and place in the refrigerator. Only put as much as you are going to eat that very day into the refrigerator. Place the rest of the chopped up pieces in one or more zip lock bags and right into the freezer. This guarantees that each piece remains as fresh as possible.
- Do not leave the watermelon out for anymore than two days if you suffer from migraines. In fact, one day may be the maximun.
- Under no circumstance should you follow advice that says you can safely leave the watermelon out to ripen for several weeks if it is not yet ripe.
** Use the Tyramine Calculator to estimate the overall amount of tyramine in your meals **