Can Cheese Cause Headaches?

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Yes, cheese can potentially cause headaches in some individuals. Cheese, particularly certain types, contains compounds such as tyramine and histamine, which are thought to contribute to headaches in susceptible individuals.

Tyramine is a natural compound formed from the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine in aged or fermented foods. Certain cheeses, especially aged or matured varieties like cheddar, blue cheese, Swiss, and others, contain higher levels of tyramine. Tyramine has been suggested as a trigger for headaches or migraines in some people. It’s believed that tyramine might cause blood vessels in the brain to constrict and then dilate, leading to headaches in susceptible individuals.

Histamine, another compound present in certain foods, can also potentially contribute to headaches or migraines in some people. Histamine intolerance or sensitivity to histamine-rich foods, including aged cheeses, might lead to various symptoms, including headaches, due to the body’s inability to properly metabolize histamine.

However, it’s important to note that not everyone is sensitive to these compounds found in cheese, and triggers for headaches or migraines can vary widely among individuals. Some people may be more susceptible to certain foods or food additives, while others may not experience any adverse effects.

If someone suspects that cheese or specific types of cheese are triggering their headaches or migraines, keeping a food diary to track dietary patterns and associated symptoms can be helpful. Identifying and avoiding potential triggers, including certain cheeses, might help manage headaches for individuals sensitive to these compounds.

Consulting a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide guidance on dietary adjustments and potential triggers for headaches, including addressing the role of specific foods like cheese in individual cases.