The NHF’s “Low Tyramine Headache Diet”

The National Headache Foundation’s (“NHF”) low tyramine diet helps migraine sufferers identify and avoid diets containing large amounts of the biogenic amine tyramine.  This list is a good starting point to identify certain foods with high tyramine content. Our approach should be to avoid only those trigger foods that cause migraines, while consuming the ones that do not. Now, this is easier said than done.

The low-tyramine diet

Tyramine occurs as a result of the food’s aging process. Migraine sufferers, in general, can have problems dealing with biogenic amines.  The result is that, as migraine sufferers, we have to simply limit or avoid those foods that are high in tyramine. This is often not an easy task. Therefore, the work that the NHF has done is both beneficial and vital for those suffering from migraines. Since we as individuals have vastly different tolerance levels, many items on this list that say “allowed” might not be tolerated at all. Likewise, some food items listed under “use with caution” might be perfectly fine to consume. That is why the list only serves to begin the discovery process for your individual triggers.

Low-tyramine diet highlights

Some of the highlights are included below, with a link to the document.


  • Milk
  • American Cheese
  • Coffee Cakes
  • Onions Cooked in Foods
  • White Vinegar


  • Sausage
  • Corned Beef
  • Bologna
  • Any Meats with Nitrates or Nitrites
  • Sour Cream
  • Parmesan
  • Raw Onion
  • Avocados
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • All Soups with Hydrolyzed Yeast, Meat Extracts, or MSG
  • Coffee & Tea
  • Scotch
  • All Chocolate Based Products
  • Apple and Other Fermented Vinegars

Odds and ends

Dairy can be difficult to consume for many suffering from migraines. Therefore, it may make sense to avoid most dairy at least initially. Items that have generally been sitting out at the store are likewise not recommended. Coffee and tea have a mixed track record. For some, caffeine can actually help with migraines. As a general rule, the longer the fruit takes to ripen, the likelier that it can act as a migraine trigger. Therefore, it is not surprising to find bananas and papaya on the list. But, I would also add watermelon and mangos to the list of fruits to avoid.

Try a diet with lower tyramine in order to lessen migraines.

1. – “Low Tyramine Headache Diet*”

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Nancy Darling
Nancy Darling

This diet has been invaluable to my son. I don’t know if it stops headache triggers, but it radically decreases the ‘fog’ he had all the time around his migraines. After a year, I can tell if he’s cheated just by how he acts. It combines well with a low tyramine diet.


For so many years i tried to figure out my triggers, food journal,,but i’m not able to pin point, when i have good days, i will have have the same food, headache will come back, i,cannot find a pattern,,it’s like so many things triggers, can you give me a detailed list of what your triggers are, i eat very healthy, but i know there are some healthy food that are triggers
Thanks again