Tyramine is a compound that develops in certain foods. Although most people can consume it with ease, tyramine triggers headaches in some people. It can also interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitor medications, causing serious side effects. Because tyramine tends to develop over time as the amino acid tyrosine breaks down, common sources include aged meats and cheeses, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, and some fruits. If tyramine causes problems for you, avoiding certain fruits and emphasizing others can enhance your wellness.
Citrus fruits are valuable sources of vitamin C, which plays an important role in immune system function and wound healing. Because citrus fruits also contain moderate amounts of tyramine, consuming large amounts can cause problems if you are sensitive to it. For reduced headache symptoms, the National Headache Foundation recommends limiting your intakes of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, pineapple, lemons and limes to a total of 1/2 cup per day. Vitamin C-rich, low-tyramine alternatives include kiwis, strawberries and tomatoes.
Avocados are rich sources of nutrients such as vitamin E, fiber and healthy fat. Because they contain moderate amounts of tyramine, the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois recommends avoiding them as part of a low-tyramine diet. For vitamin E and healthy fats, consume nuts, seeds and plant-based oils such as olive or canola oil -- all of which contain little, if any, tyramine. Fruits and vegetables high in fiber and low in tyramine include fresh berries, pears, artichokes and lentils.
Dried fruits contain small amounts of tyramine. To lower your risk for headaches or MAOI side effects, choose fresh fruits such as black plums, grapes and apricots instead of prunes, raisins and dried apricots. If you enjoy dried fruit, limit your intake to modest, occasional portions.
Bananas, Papayas and Passion Fruit
Like citrus fruits, bananas, papayas and passion fruit contain moderate levels of tyramine. They also provide a variety of essential nutrients, such as potassium and beta-carotene. For overall health, the Association of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating at least 2 cups of fruits per day, and including a variety of types and colors in your diet. As part of a low-tyramine diet, no more than 1/2 cup should consist of bananas, papayas or passion fruit. Potassium is prevalent in all fruits and vegetables. Valuable low-tyramine beta-carotene sources include berries, tomatoes, peaches, carrots, squash and broccoli.
The tyramine content of fruit increases with age. For this reason, tyramine-sensitive individuals should avoid all overripe fruits. Signs that fruit is past its prime include extra soft texture, darkened color and increased smell. If you are unsure about a fruit's freshness, ask grocery store staff for guidance. Canned and frozen fruits are additional low-tyrmaine options.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com