Headache Home > Migraine Food Triggers

Food triggers are sometimes responsible for causing a migraine. However, it's important to find out the specific foods that may trigger your migraines instead of just avoiding all possible triggers. Keeping a migraine diary can help with this. Some examples of known food triggers include aged cheeses, chocolate, wine, garlic, and foods with MSG.

An Overview of Foods That Trigger Migraines

There are several types of foods that can trigger a migraine headache. Of course, everyone is different, so what causes migraines in one person may not affect another person.
The goal for anyone with migraines is to first be able to identify possible migraine triggers. The next step is to avoid or limit these triggers as much as you can. However, there is a right and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way is to avoid all foods listed in this article as possible "migraine food triggers." This is because there are only a small number of people who have migraines that are triggered solely by food. Furthermore, avoiding food groups can lead to an unbalanced, unhealthy diet.
The right way to figure out your migraine triggers is to keep a migraine diary. This will allow you to document, in a systematic manner, a number of factors that could play a role in triggering your migraine attacks -- including psychological, physical, and chemical factors.

Possible Migraine Food Triggers

Some migraine food triggers include:
  • Cheeses that contain tyramine. This includes aged cheeses, such as:
    • Blue cheese
    • Cheddar cheese
    • Swiss cheese
    • Mozzarella.
  • Meats with nitrate preservatives, such as hot dogs or bacon.
  • Cured or smoked meats, such as salami, cured cold cuts, pepperoni, or liverwurst.
  • Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), a commonly used flavor enhancer found in Asian cuisine and snack foods.
  • Certain dairy foods, including sour cream, yogurt, and buttermilk.
  • All nuts, including peanut butter.
  • Chocolate.
  • Certain vegetables, such as snow peas, fava beans, lima beans, or other broad beans.
  • Certain fruits, such as bananas, avocados, figs, raisins, and dried fruit.
  • Fermented foods, such as:
    • Sour cream and yogurt
    • Pickles
    • Sauerkraut
    • Fermented soy products (such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and miso).
  • Freshly baked yeast breads and cakes.
  • Red wine and beer.
  • Garlic.
  • Onions.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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