Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid that forms from the breakdown of protein in food as it ages. Though tyramine helps regulate blood pressure, it can also affect the human body in many different, negative ways. It has been known to trigger cluster headaches and severe migraines, and it has been demonstrated to interact severely with antidepressants such as Nardil and Parnate. Knowing the foods that contain tyramine will make avoiding it much easier.
Cheeses are among the food groups that contain tyramine, though not all cheeses have it. Most aged cheeses contain tyramine. These cheeses contain more tyramine the longer they are aged. A few aged cheeses that contain tyramine include Parmesan, Romano, asiago and aged cheddar. Many cheeses with a strong taste contain tyramine. Cream cheese and cottage cheese contain little to no tyramine. The cheese syndrome--a depression caused by the build-up of tyramine--was first noted in people who ate too much cheese. Avoiding aged cheeses can thus help you avoid tyramine.
Fruits are also another source of tyramine. Overripe fruit contains higher amounts of tyramine. Avocados are a notable source of tyramine, especially once they have become overripe; eating them in small amounts, however, shouldn't cause a problem. Many fruits (but not all) contain tyramine, including bananas, figs, grapes, oranges, pineapples and plums. Dried versions of these contain more concentrated doses of tyramine and should be eaten in moderation.
Meat and Fish
Aged meat and fish contain large amounts of tyramine. Normally, fish and meat contain little to no tyramine, but if left to age it will collect large amounts of tyramine. This is also true of processed meats, including cured meats, pickled meats, lunch meat, meat by-products and soup broths. The level of tyramine in these meats and fish is high enough that they should be used sparingly. A lunch-meat sandwich every day shouldn't be enough to cause migraines or cluster headaches, but eating a large amount of aged meat in one sitting could. If you experience migraines or cluster headaches after eating aged meat, you may want to consider avoiding it all together.
Soy is a healthy alternative to meat products generally, but all soy products contain tyramine, especially fermented soy products. This depends on the age of both the soya beans used and the age of the soy product. If you let your soy product sit around too long, it will begin to build up even higher levels of tyramine. If the soya bean is grown too long, it will begin to collect tyramine in itself, on top of the tyramine that may collect in soy products later. Soy products with elevated levels of tyramine include soy sauce, tofu, miso and teriyaki sauce.
Nuts and Chocolate
Chocolate does not generally contain much tyramine. However, chocolate contains ingredients that can trigger the same kind of cluster headaches and migraines that tyramine does. And though nuts generally don't have a high amount of tyramine, they have been known to trigger these same symptoms as well. If you suffer from cluster headaches and migraines, you should avoid peanuts, coconut and Brazil nuts.