Most people think that chocolate causes migraines. In fact, chocolate does not trigger migraines or tension headaches. That’s a relief! There was a joint study conducted between the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington, School of Medicine studying women suffering from a history of headaches and the connection to chocolate. There were 63 women who participated in the study. During the study, all possible headache triggering foods were eliminated from the participant’s diet. They were then divided into two separate groups. Half of the groups were given chocolate regularly and the other half were given carob regularly. The results? The groups receiving the chocolate got no more headaches than those receiving the carob.
Dr. Lisa Scharff from the University of Pittsburgh states that people should experiment with chocolate to see if it triggers headaches for them personally. Scharff found through her studies that sometimes a food causes a headache and sometimes it doesn’t. More commonly, she found that after going home tired from a stressful day, women would reach for chocolate for comfort and get a headache. She feels this is the result from the tension of the day culminating, not from the chocolate. It could also be the type of chocolate someone is eating. The sugar found in a milk chocolate bar is bound to cause a headache after a stressful day. Stress resulting from tiredness, excitement or anger is also considered to be the most common trigger of migraine headaches.
Chocolate does contain tyramine which has been known to trigger migraines. The quantity of tyramine in chocolate is too small to cause a migraine without an additional factor. There is always the chance that you may be sensitive to even the slightest amount of tyramine in any food which would mean eliminating more than just chocolate to your list of foods causing your migraines. There is far more tyramine present in cheese, for example, than there is in chocolate. Try omitting cheese, cream cheese and cottage cheese too, from your diet first and see if that helps. Other foods high in tyramine include avocados, bananas, eggplant, figs, grapes, oranges, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, processed foods, yeast, sauerkraut and soy. It is far more likely that one of these foods is causing your migraine than chocolate. Do not be discouraged. Chances are you can eat that fabulously healthy dark chocolate bar with no chance of a migraine.