Which foods are precipitants of migraine headache?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

Certain foods and food additives have been suggested as potential precipitants of migraine, including the following:

  • Caffeine

  • Artificial sweeteners (eg, aspartame, saccharin)

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

  • Citrus fruits

  • Foods containing tyramine (eg, aged cheese)

  • Meats with nitrites

However, large epidemiologic studies have failed to substantiate most of these as triggers, [46] and no diets have been shown to help migraine. Nevertheless, patients who identify particular foods as triggers should avoid these foods.

Although chocolate has been considered a migraine trigger, data from the PAMINA study do not support this contention. [46] Instead, it has been hypothesized that ingestion of chocolate may be in response to a craving brought on at the start of a migraine, as a result of hypothalamic activation.


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