Headaches are one of life’s frustrating inconveniences that we can do without. One minute you’re quietly enjoying some downtime and then bam! Your head starts pounding. If you’re one of the many people who suffer from headaches, you know the usual dietary culprits like alcohol and caffeine. But there are some other surprising foods that could be causing you to reach for your temples.
They may be good for your heart, but for some people eating beans can trigger a headache. The culprit is thought to be the tannin contained in beans, which is also found in many teas and some alcoholic beverages like red wine.
Some takeaways and restaurants often use MSG (monosodium glutamate) as a flavour enhancer, however studies have shown that this additive can trigger a headache in some individuals. It is thought that MSG can cause dehydration as well as affecting the blood vessels in the brain leading to a headache.
3. Aged cheese
Aged cheese contains more of a substance called tyramine, which can causes your blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, causing a headache. Tyramine levels increase in foods when they are aged, fermented, pickled or stored for long periods of time.
4. Ice cream
Any cold food can cause a headache – aka brain freeze. Intensely cold food stimulates nerves in the top of your mouth that causes your blood vessels to constrict. This type of headache usually goes away in a few minutes, but for migraine sufferers a brain freeze headache can trigger a migraine attack.
For some people chocolate can be more pain than pleasure. Chocolate contains the substance phenylethylamine, which is thought to trigger blood vessel activity in the brain resulting in a headache or migraine.
6. Dried fruits and nuts
Tyramine is the culprit again here. Tyramine is naturally present in all nuts (and nut butters) but the concentration of this substance increases in fruits when they are dried and aged.
7. Yeasted breads
Freshly baked breads and pastries that contain yeast can trigger a headache in some individuals. Yeast breads that are cooked and that are at least a day old are generally considered less of a problem.
8. Whole milk
Choline and casein in whole milk can cause headaches in some people. Many migraine sufferers have found relief from headaches by cutting milk products from their diet.