Banana Hangovers? Surprising Headache Triggers You Didn’t Know About

By Perri O. Blumberg

As many of us recovered from a long weekend of merriment, friends, family—and, in many cases, too much alcohol—I wondered if champagne alone was really to blame for that oh-so-crummy feeling after New Year’s Eve. Turns out it might not have been.

As this Wall Street Journal article explains, booze is not the only thing that brings on killer hangovers. Researchers have found that a range of surprising foods (onions! pickles! cheese!) can do the same for some people.

Tyramine, a naturally-occurring compound that can contribute to headache pain, is contained in a wide variety of meats, fruits and vegetables. Highest amounts  of it are in foods that are aged, marinated, smoked or pickled, like sauerkraut, tofu, cheeses, and pickles. But significant amounts of tyramine are also found in bananas (especially overripe ones because the tyramine becomes higher as the fruit ages),  avocados, onions, chocolate and, you guessed it, alcohol. The more tyramine-rich foods you consume, the worse your pain may be.

To make matters worse,  if you’re taking an  MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor, or more simply put, antidepressants), foods heavy in tyramine can lead to what is known as the “cheese effect,” intense headaches as a result of eating cheese and other tyramine-rich foods. Here’s a helpful link on MAOIs and tyramine from the Mayo Clinic.

If you suffer from food headaches, try to limit your intake of tyramine-heavy foods and see if your condition improves. Here’s a helpful list of what to look out for:

      • Aged cheeses
      • Alcohol
      • Food additives
      • Caffeine
      • Peanuts
      • Smoked or dried fish

Get the full list here.