List of foods prohibited for migraine

Foods that increase histamine and produce migraines

What foods are those that produce migraine?

Migraine-producing foods are mainly those that increase histamine. For a long time, migraine was considered a disorder of unknown origin and with little success of treatment. However, in recent years, scientific studies have shown that migraine is related to more than 80% of people suffering from DAO deficit.

For this reason, the dietary treatment of migraine is now very important and is already being implemented in many hospitals.

dietary treatment of migraine

Dietary treatment of migraine. A diet is recommended to decrease histamine levels.

What is the DAO deficit and how does it relate to migraine and histamine?

The DAO enzyme is in our intestines and is responsible for eliminating the histamine contained in food (although not all foods have histamine). As it can not be eliminated, histamine accumulates and produces migraine.

A characteristic of migraine due to the DAO deficit is that it is usually associated with other conditions such as gastrointestinal, inflammatory and dermatological disorders.

Why is there a DAO deficit?

It is not true that people with DAO deficiency lack this enzyme, but have it, but, for different possible causes, it has very low activity. Most medications and some substances such as alcohol, decrease the activity of the DAO enzyme producing histamine accumulation and migraine attacks.

What foods should not be consumed in case of DAO deficiency?

The dietary prohibitions on DAO deficiency are based on:

  • Avoid foods that contain histamine (or other biogenic amines)
  • Avoid foods and beverages (such as alcoholic beverages) that decrease the activity of the DAO enzyme

Foods that cause migraine

To summarize, the migraine-causing foods are the following:

  • Processed meat such as sausages, hamburgers, sausages, or ham
  • Canned fish (tuna, …)
  • Oily fish: tuna, sardines, etc.
  • Shellfish
  • Alcoholic beverages, both fermented (wine, beer) and distilled (whiskey, vodka, …)
  • Vinegar
  • Histamine-releasing foods such as shellfish, egg white, canned tomato, papaya, nuts, chocolate
  • Junk food: Cookies, pastries, pre-cooked
  • Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (E-621), tartrazine (E-102),sulfites (E-223) or benzoates (E-210 E-213).
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries and dried apricots containing sulphites
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Fermented soy products, such as tempeh
  • Citrus
  • Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)

List of prohibited foods for migraine

The foods prohibited for migraine are detailed in depth in the following list.

Food groupFoods prohibited or NOT RECOMMENDED in migraine diet

(DAO enzyme deficiency)


Fruits and vegetables

  • Fermented and preserved: homemade pickles, cabbage sauerkraut (cabbage), pickled gherkins, garlic in vinegar, etc.
  • Olives or preserved olives
  • Citrus fruits: Tangerine, grapefruit, orange, lemon, kumquat
  • Orange juice (orange juice)
  • Kiwi
  • Chocolate
  • * Vegetables according to tolerance, in moderation: eggplant, spinach, tomato and tomato sauce, courgettes (Italian squash), squash (pumpkin), cucumber, chayote
  • * Fruits according to tolerance, in moderation: strawberries, banana, papaya and avocado




  • Processed meat, especially cured: ham, sausages, minced meat, hamburgers, meatballs, , mortadella, chopped, bacon, , pâté, etc.
fish and shellfish

Fish and shellfish

  • Canned fish (canned tuna, sardines in oil, etc.), surimi, smoked salmon, etc.
  • Blue or fatty fish: sardines, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, etc.
  • Shellfish: Mussels, clams, etc.


  • Egg white (It is recommended not to abuse the eggs, but it is not a prohibited food, only in cases of strong migraine should be avoided)
Mdairy products

Dairy products

  • Milk and dairy products: yogurt, kefir
  • Cured cheese, Manchego cheese, goat cheese, cabrales cheese, pecorino cheese, emmental cheese, Gruyêre cheese, Roquefort cheese
  • Cheese spread
  • Grated chees
  • * Fresh cheeses have little histamine and they could be included in the diet.

Legumes, cereals, seeds and nuts

  • Soybeans and derivatives (fermented soy products, such as tempeh), are strongly discouraged
  • Nuts (depending on individual tolerance)
  • Nut butter (peanut butter or peanut, sesame tahini, etc.)
  • Bread, because histamine is produced during the fermentation process. Wheat flour and rice flour contain histamine, although its content is low

Junk food

  • Pre-cooked or powdered soups and broths
  • Pre-cooked of any kind
  • Chinese Food
  • Pizza (for the fermented dough, cheese, sausages, sauces with dairy products, etc.)
  • Any product with glutamate
  • Cookies, industrial pastries, chocolate palms, churros, etc.
  • Homemade pastries with yeasts, flours, etc.


Any drink with alcohol is totally inadvisable:

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages: wine, beer, champagne and champagne, cider
  • Spirits: Vodka, whiskey, liquor, etc.
  • Wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Modena vinegar, balsamic and similar.
  • Soy sauce
  • Industrial sauces with glutamate
  • Nutritional or beer yeast

How much histamine does alcohol have?

Alcoholic beverages contain histamine, but very little. The reason why they are discouraged is because it inactivates the DAO enzyme, causing it not to act and therefore accumulate histamine.

Does cooking destroy histamine?

Histamine and other biogenic amines are thermostable, so that, once formed in food, they are not eliminated by cooking.

migraine natural treatment

Natural treatment of migraine

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This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 January, 2023

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