Here’s What You Need to Know About Tyramine Rich Foods

Updated on October 19th, 2020
foods high in tyramine

Tyramine is a vasoactive amine that influences blood pressure elevation, resulting in pain. Tyramine leads to cerebral vasoconstriction and subsequent rebound vasodilatation that causes a migraine attack in vulnerable persons. Tyramine is present in a number of foodstuffs, most notably beverages and aged and fermented foods. 

What Is Tyramine?

Tyramine is a natural compound present in certain foods, specifically fermented or aged foods. It is formed by the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine is regarded as a monoamine due to its chemical nature—our body processes monoamines with an enzyme called MAO (monoamine oxidase) [1].

What does tyramine do?

Our adrenal glands usually respond to tyramine by sending catecholamines — fight-or-flight chemicals that act both as neurotransmitters and hormones — into the bloodstream. These messenger chemicals include: [2]

  • norepinephrine
  • dopamine
  • epinephrine

This gives you an energy boost and, in turn, elevates your heart rate and blood pressure.

Many people take tyramine-containing foods without experiencing any adverse side effects. However, this hormone’s release can cause life-threatening blood pressure spikes, mostly when taken in excess.

[Also Read Vitamin B12 Rich Foods for Vegans]

When should I think of a tyramine-free diet?

Tyramine-dense foods might alter or interact with how medications work in our bodies. For instance, certain MAOIs, including certain medications and antidepressants for Parkinson’s disease, can lead to a tyramine pileup. [3]

Overconsumption of tyramine may lead to a hypertensive crisis that can be deadly. A hypertensive crisis can happen when blood pressure is so high that you have a greater chance of death or stroke.

If you have a poor capacity to break down amines like histamine or tyramine, you may experience allergic-type reactions to small quantities of amines. Your physician may say that you’re “amine intolerant. [4]

For most amine intolerant people, tyramine’s effects are most apparent when you have excessive amounts. At abundantly high levels, you might experience symptoms, such as:

  • nausea
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches
  • vomiting

If you’re taking MAOIs or If you think you may be sensitive to tyramine, report any symptoms to your physician.

As a treatment for migraines, some physicians suggest trying a tyramine-free diet or low-tyramine. The diet’s effectiveness in treating migraines is not medically validated.

[Also Read: Collagen-Rich Foods]

Does tyramine trigger migraines?

If individuals prone to migraines consume foods with tyramine and do not have adequate MAO in their bodies to process it, migraines or headaches may develop. The exact reason tyramine triggers headaches is unknown.

However, tyramine triggers norepinephrine release (neurotransmitter and a hormone), and some studies suggest that increased norepinephrine combined with high levels of tyramine may trigger a headache. High levels of tyramine in the body may also increase blood pressure and heart rate.

If migraines or headaches are an issue, foods that are high in tyramine should be skipped. This is particularly true for individuals who take antidepressants known as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), which reduce your body’s ability to process tyramine.

[Also Read: Gut-Friendly Probiotic-Rich Foods]

What foods are high in tyramine?

In general, foods that are cured, fermented, spoiled, aged are high in tyramine.

Particular examples of foods with high tyramine levels include the following: foods high in the tyramine list.

Foods high in tyramine

  • Cheeses — Swiss, Cheddar, blue, Gorgonzola, feta, 
  • Fish and Meats — Smoked or cured meats (e.g., salami and sausage  ), caviar or smoked or pickled fish
  • Beans and other proteins — Broad beans, fava beans, tempeh, tofu, 
  • Vegetables and fruits — Citrus fruits, fermented or pickled vegetables, raw onions (e.g., sauerkraut), 
  • Beverages — Home or tap-brewed beer, caffeinated beverages, red wine, 
  • Condiments — Teriyaki sauce, wine vinegar,  soy sauce, fish sauce

Moderate-tyramine foods

Some cheeses are less tyramine-dense, including:

  • Parmesan
  • American
  • Havarti
  • farmer’s
  • Brie

Other foods with moderate tyramine levels include:

  • anchovies
  • avocados
  • wines
  • raspberries

You may be able to consume some beer or other alcoholic drinks. Be sure to check with your medical practitioner.

[Also Read: Foods high in Estrogen]

What foods are low in tyramine?

Example of foods with low tyramine levels include the following:

  • Cheeses — Brie, American, farmers, 
  • Fish and Meats  — Fish, fresh meat, poultry, eggs
  • Vegetables and fruits — Most canned, fresh, or frozen vegetables and fruits except raw onions, citrus fruits, fermented or pickled vegetables
  • Grain products — Pasta, most loaves of bread, 
  • Beverages — Decaffeinated tea, coffee, or soda, soy or fresh milk, vodka, rum, gin
  • Condiments — Mustard, Ketchup,  Worcestershire sauce

Other tips to keep tyramine levels low include eating fresh produce within 2 days of purchase, eating frozen or canned foods right after opening, and freezing or eating fresh meats, fish and poultry, on the day of purchase.

[Also Read: Vitamin K Rich Foods]

Tips for limiting tyramine intake

If you want to restrict your tyramine intake, follow these tips:

  • Use extra caution when storing, selecting, and preparing your food.
  • Eat fresh produce within 2 days of purchase.
  • Read all drink and food labels carefully.
  • Avoid aged, spoiled, pickled, or fermented foods.
  • Don’t thaw foods at room temperature. Thaw in the microwave or the refrigerator instead.
  • Eat frozen or canned foods, including produce, poultry, meats, and fish, right after opening.
  • Buy fresh meats, poultry, fish, freeze them immediately, or eat them the same day.
  • Remember that cooking will not lower the content of tyramine.
  • Be cautious when you eat outside foods because you don’t know how foods have been stored.

Bottom Line

Tyramine accumulation in the body has been associated with life-threatening blood pressure spikes and migraine headaches in people taking MAOI antidepressants.

If you experience migraine headaches, think you may be intolerant to amines, or take MAOIs, you may want to consider a tyramine-free or low-tyramine diet. Talk to your physician first, and ask them if this diet will work well with your present medical treatment.

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