Low Tyramine Diet for Migraine

Tyramine is produced in foods from the natural breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine is not added to foods. Tyramine levels increase in foods when they are aged, fermented, stored for long periods of time, or are not fresh.

Food Group Allowed Use With Caution Avoid If on MAOI
Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs or Meat Substitutes Freshly purchased and prepared meats, fish, and poultry Eggs Any allowed items that are canned or frozen   Any with nitrates or nitrites added     Fermented sausages: pepperoni, salami, mortadella, summer sausage, etc.   Non-fresh or improperly stored meat, fish, poultry or pickled herring Limit processed meats to 4 ounces per meal ** Limit tofu or tempeh  to 10 ounces per day 
Dairy Milk: whole, 2% or skim  Fresh cheese: American, cottage, farmer, ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella, Velveeta or other processed cheese, etc Soy milk, soy cheese Aged cheeses  Cheddar cheese Limit other aged cheeses to 4 ounces per meal  e.g. Blue, Brick, Brie, Cheddar, Swiss, Roquefort, Stilton, Parmesan, Provolone, Emmentaler, etc **Limit any combination of aged cheese and processed meats to TOTAL of 4 ounces per meal. 
Breads, Cereals, Pasta All breads, biscuits, pancakes, coffee cakes, etc All cooked and dry cereals All pasta: spaghetti, rotini, ravioli, (with allowed ingredients), macaroni, and egg noodles       
Vegetables All  except on caution section(including all dried beans except fava or broad beans) Raw onion Fava or broad beans, sauerkraut  Limit fermented soy products like miso, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce to 1 ounce per day  
Fruits All except on caution section Limit intake to ½ cup per day from citrus types: orange, grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, lemon and lime    
Soups  Soups made from allowed ingredients, homemade broths      
Beverages Decaffeinated coffee or tea, club soda, caffeine-free carbonated beverages Limited caffeinated beverages to no more than 2 servings per day (less than 200mg total) *Consult with your physician & pharmacist regarding alcoholic beverages   Alcoholic beverages: No more than 2 domestic bottled or canned beers or nonalcoholic beer or 4 ounce wine per day.   No tap beers
Desserts & Sweets Any made with allowed foods and ingredients: sugar, jelly, jam, honey, hard candies, cakes, cookies Chocolate based products: ice cream (1 cup), pudding (1 cup), cookies (1 average size), cakes (3” cube), and chocolate candies (½oz).  (All count as one serving of caffeinated beverage)    
Ingredients Listed on Food Labels Any not listed in the caution section Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Nitrates/nitritesSulfitesAspartame   
Fats, Oils, and Miscellaneous All cooking oils and fats Commercial salad dressings with allowed ingredients, vinegars All fresh nuts and seeds All spices and extracts not listed in restricted ingredients       Concentrated yeast extract  i.e. Marmite or Vegemite


Caffeine Content of Selected Beverages
Carbonated beverages 12oz=30–50mg (Regular and sugar-free) Coffee 6oz=103mg Decaffeinated  tea or coffee 6oz=2mg Tea 6oz=31-36mg(Instant and 3-minute brew)
General Guidelines
  • Each day eat three meals with a snack at night or six small meals spread throughout the day.
  • Avoid eating high sugar foods on an empty stomach, when excessively hungry, or in place of a meal.
  • All food, especially high protein foods, should be prepared and eaten fresh.  Be cautious of leftovers held for more than one or two days at refrigerator temperature.  Freeze leftovers that you want to store for more than 2 or 3 days.
  • Cigarette and cigar smoke contain a multitude of chemicals that will trigger or aggravate your headache.  If you smoke, make quitting a high priority.  Enter a smoking cessation program.
  • The foods listed in the “CAUTION” column have smaller amounts of Tyramine or other vasoactive compounds. Other foods in the “CAUTION” column do not contain Tyramine but are potential headache “triggers”.
  • Each person may have different sensitivities to certain level of Tyramine or other vasoactive compounds in foods.
  • If you are not on an MAOI medication, you should test the use of foods in the “avoid” column in limited amounts.  In you are taking an MAOI medication; do not consume foods in the “Avoid” column.  Consult with your prescribing physician for additional precautions.
  • Adapted from the Saint Joseph Hospital & Diamond Headache Clinic Headache Diet.


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