Tyramine is a monoamine, an amino acid produced from the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine appears to play a role in managing your blood pressure. In the body, tyramine is broken down by the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO).

Certain medications, known as MAO inhibitors, interfere with the production of MAO, and therefore people who take these medicines should avoid eating tyramine in excess. If there isn’t enough MAO to break down the tyramine, tyramine could build up in your system, and your blood pressure could rise. This is why it’s common for doctors to recommend that people who take MAOIs limit dietary tyramine.

Tyramine also has an anecdotal reputation for triggering migraine headaches. While there isn’t much research to back up the theory, some people find relief from migraines when avoiding tyramine-containing foods.

Which Foods Contain Tyramine?

The foods that are richest in tyramine tend to be aged, fermented, cured, or processed. Cheeses, meats, and sauces have a reputation for containing higher levels of tyramine.

Once a food has been cooked, tyramine levels increase, so if you’re trying to avoid tyramine, it’s best to eat food that’s fresh and recently cooked. Because of the breakdown process, leftovers are often high in tyramine.

Some foods that are considered higher in tyramine include:

– Fermented foods like soy sauce, miso, and tempeh
– Aged cheeses like gorgonzola and cheddar
– Cured meats such as lunch meat or salami
– Anything pickled, like kimchi or sauerkraut
– Processed meats like hot dogs or bacon
– Citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges
– Leftover foods
– Alcohol


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– Moffett A, Swash M, Scott DF. Effect of tyramine in migraine: a double-blind study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1972;35(4):496-499. doi:10.1136/jnnp.35.4.496