The 5 Most Surprising Foods that Trigger Migraines

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If you’re following a migraine-friendly diet, then you already know to tread carefully around certain foods. Chocolate, coffee, aged cheeses and red wine are all red-light items that are most likely to result in a raging migraine headache. Here are some lesser-known migraine triggers that you may not have been warned about.

The 5 Most Surprising Foods that Trigger Migraines

What are migraine triggers?

Migraine triggers don’t actually cause migraines; rather they increase your odds of getting a migraine attack. The more migraine triggers you’re exposed to, the likelier you are to spend more days suffering from headaches and nausea; it’s a snowball effect that can only be avoided by eliminating certain triggers from your life.

Easier said than done- there are hundreds of migraine triggers, including food ingredients, hormonal changes, stress, bright lights, noise, scents, and even the weather.

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Some migraine triggers just can’t be avoided, so to improve your health with migraine it’s important to focus on the ones that you can change, such as diet.


If you like taking home a doggie bag, then make sure to use it quickly. Leftover foods are likely to contain tyramine, a headache trigger that occurs with foods containing the amino acid tyrosine. With time, as your food sits, tyrosine is converted to tyramine. The highest amounts are found in foods that aren’t refrigerated properly. To save money and prevent migraines, store leftover restaurant foods in airtight containers in the refrigerator.


As with leftover foods, fruits that sit on the counter and get very ripe, such as bananas and avocadoes, have very high amounts of headache-inducing tyramine.


Citrus fruits- oranges, lemons, kiwi- are excellent sources of vitamin C, but they can also lead to migraines. Sour fruits that contain a lot of acid can wreak havoc on your pH blood level, increasing your chances for migraine headaches. Additionally, citrus fruits contain tyramine and histamine- together with citric acid, a triple-whammy of a migraine trigger.

Diet soda

Artificial sweeteners, food colorings, and preservatives are all chemicals that contribute to migraine frequency, in addition to many other health issues.  For great health and fewer migraines, try to reduce the number of processed foods you eat, and up your whole foods intake.  Choose plain seltzer over diet or original Coke, make the change to whole wheat bread, and cook with fresh meats instead of buying frozen prepackaged dinners.


One of the most notorious migraine triggers- monosodium glutamate (MSG)– lurks in some of the least-suspected food items; roasted nuts, mayonnaise, noodle soup mix- these yummy treats are all seasoned with MSG, the manufacturer’s number one choice in food flavorings, valued for its delicious taste and low cost. When you have the urge to nosh, look out for MSG-free  snacks in the health food aisle; they’re slightly more expensive, but worth the price of a migraine-free day.

Please tell us..

What foods have you learned to avoid in order to prevent migraines?

Can you add some migraine food triggers that aren’t mentioned here?

Questions? Please feel free to comment below!

Also read:

5 Foods that Help with Migraines

Does Alcohol Always Trigger Migraines?

10 Ridiculously Healthy Vitamins for Women Migraine Patients

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