Does Bacon Have Tyramine? A Guide to Tyramine in Foods

As someone who suffers from frequent headaches and migraines, I often have to watch my intake of a substance called tyramine. Tyramine is an amino acid that’s naturally present in many foods due to the breakdown of protein during aging and fermentation. It has the ability to trigger headaches in sensitive individuals. But does bacon have tyramine? Let’s explore.

What is Tyramine and Why Does it Matter?

Tyramine is what’s known as a “vasoactive amine” – it causes physiological effects in the body by inducing the release of norepinephrine. This leads to the constriction of blood vessels in the brain, which can in turn provoke migraine attacks and severe headaches in those who are prone to them.

People who take a class of medications called MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) must also avoid tyramine. MAOIs block the enzyme that normally breaks down tyramine, so consuming excess tyramine can lead to dangerously high blood pressure when taking these drugs.

Clearly, for those sensitive to tyramine or taking MAOIs, monitoring dietary tyramine intake is crucial. But it can be confusing to figure out which foods contain tyramine and how much is too much.

Does Bacon Contain Tyramine?

Now let’s get to the title question – does bacon have tyramine? According to tyramine food lists, the answer is yes bacon does contain moderate levels of tyramine.

This is because bacon is cured, smoked, and aged. These preservation techniques encourage microbial enzymes and amino acid breakdown that result in tyramine accumulation. Fresh, uncured pork does not contain significant tyramine.

More specifically, 2-3 slices of bacon may provide around 40-60mg of tyramine. Compare this to aged cheeses, which can supply 100mg per ounce. So bacon contains less tyramine than many other culprit foods.

Other Tyramine Sources to Watch For

While bacon does have tyramine, there are other foods that tend to be much higher in this vasoactive amine. Here are some of the top tyramine-containing foods I stay away from to avoid triggering headaches

  • Aged, fermented, or smoked meats: salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, lunch meats
  • Aged or strong cheeses: gouda, cheddar, blue cheese, parmesan
  • Fermented foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso
  • Alcoholic beverages: beer, wine, champagne
  • Broad beans, snow peas, avocados, bananas
  • Sauces: soy, fish, Worcestershire, tapenade
  • Dried, overripe, or spoiled produce

In general, the older and more processed a food item is, the more tyramine it is likely to contain. Freshness and quality are key for minimizing tyramine exposure.

Enjoying Bacon Safely on a Low Tyramine Diet

For those who need to monitor tyramine, like myself, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy the occasional strip of tasty bacon. The answer is yes – bacon can still be part of a low tyramine diet when consumed in moderation. Here are some tips:

  • Stick to just 1-2 slices of bacon at a time, 2-3 times per week maximum
  • Opt for uncured bacon when possible to cut down on tyramine content
  • Pair bacon with low tyramine foods like eggs, toast, and fruit
  • Avoid eating bacon every day – save it for a weekend breakfast treat
  • Monitor yourself for headaches and adjust your bacon intake accordingly

With some care and planning, bacon can still have a place in your low tyramine, migraine-friendly eating plan. Rather than a big BLT sandwich stacked high with bacon opt for just 1-2 crispy slices alongside a vegetable omelet or salad. This way you can still enjoy a touch of bacon flavor without going overboard on tyramine.

Work With Your Doctor for a Customized Low Tyramine Diet

The best way to approach a low tyramine diet is to work with your neurologist or headache specialist to come up with an eating plan tailored to your needs and sensitivities. My doctor helped me identify reasonable tyramine limits and provided a list of the highest tyramine foods to strictly avoid.

Your doctor can also advise you on whether taking a tyramine-containing medication like an MAOI requires stricter dietary tyramine control. Those with milder sensitivities or not on MAOIs may be able to enjoy small servings of higher tyramine foods like bacon in moderation.

While bacon does contain tyramine, an occasional 1-2 slices is unlikely to cause issues for most people when consumed thoughtfully as part of an overall low tyramine diet. Work with your healthcare provider to find the right tyramine limits for you.

does bacon have tyramine

I just started taking an MAOI for depression. Do I really need to follow a low-tyramine diet?

Tyramine (TIE-ruh-meen) is an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure. It occurs naturally in the body, and its found in certain foods. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are medicines that stop monoamine oxidase from working. Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that breaks down too much tyramine in the body. Blocking this enzyme helps relieve depression.

If you take an MAOI and you eat high-tyramine foods, tyramine can quickly reach dangerous levels. This can cause a serious spike in blood pressure and require emergency treatment.

Avoid consuming foods that are high in tyramine if you take an MAOI. You may need to continue following a low-tyramine diet for a few weeks after you stop the medication.

Tyramine occurs naturally in small amounts in protein-containing foods. As these foods age, the tyramine levels increase. Tyramine amounts can vary among foods due to different processing, storage and preparation methods. You cant reduce the amount of tyramine in a food by cooking it.

Examples of foods high in tyramine include:

  • Cheeses that are strong or old, like aged cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan; blue cheeses, like Stilton and Gorgonzola; and Camembert American cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, farmer cheese, and cream cheese are all made from pasteurized milk, so they are less likely to have high levels of tyramine.
  • These are meats that have been cured with salt and nitrate or nitrite, like dry summer sausages, pepperoni, and salami
  • Snacks and smoked meats, like hot dogs, bologna, bacon, corned beef, and smoked fish
  • Foods that have been pickled or fermented, like sauerkraut, kimchi, caviar, tofu, or pickles
  • Sauces like miso, teriyaki, soy, shrimp, and fish sauces
  • Soybeans and soybean products.
  • Snow peas, broad beans (fava beans) and their pods.
  • Dried or ripe fruits, like prunes or raisins, or bananas or avocados that are too ripe
  • Meat tenderizers or meat prepared with tenderizers.
  • Yeast-extract spreads, such as Marmite, brewers yeast or sourdough bread.
  • alcoholic drinks like beer (especially tapped or homebrewed beer), red wine, sherry, liqueurs, and more
  • Combination foods that contain any of the above ingredients.
  • Improperly stored foods or spoiled foods. If you are taking an MAOI, your doctor may tell you to only eat fresh foods and not leftovers or foods that have passed their expiration dates.

Beverages with caffeine also may contain tyramine, so your doctor may recommend limits.

MAOIs, although effective, generally have been replaced by newer antidepressants that are safer and cause fewer side effects. Still, an MAOI is a good option for some people. In certain cases, an MAOI relieves depression when other treatments have failed.

Examples of MAOIs that are used for depression include:

  • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Selegiline (Emsam)
  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

Selegiline in patch form (Emsam) delivers the medication through your skin. If you use the patch’s lowest dose, you might not have to be as strict about what you eat. But talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.

It is important to know what to do in case of a hypertensive crisis, which is a sudden and severe rise in blood pressure. Some of these signs are:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating and severe anxiety
  • Nosebleeds
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Changes in vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion

Rarely, a severe increase in blood pressure can lead to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

If you take an MAOI, be prepared. Ask your doctor:

  • For a list of foods to stay away from, make sure you know what is and isn’t healthy for you.
  • What to do if you eat or drink something that has too much tyramine by accident, so you are ready.

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Migraine trigger foods

What foods are high in tyramine?

Some foods high in tyramine include: Other foods contain little to no tyramine. Eating fresh foods and avoiding leftover, spoiled, or overripe foods is recommended. Breakfast: Whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with low-fat milk (or milk alternative), berries, chia or hemp seed, and a dash of cinnamon

Is tyramine added to food?

Tyramine is produced in foods from the natural breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine is not added to foods. Tyramine levels increase in foods when they are aged, fermented, stored for long periods of time, or are not fresh Bacon*, sausage*, hot dogs*, corned beef*, bologna*, ham*, any luncheon meats with nitrates or nitrites added.

Which cheese is high in tyramine?

Types of cheese that undergo an aging process will be high in tyramine. These cheeses include cheddar, blue, swiss, parmesan, feta, and Camembert. A study found that aged cheese contains a compound known as spermidine which can help prevent liver damage. 2. Cured or Processed Meats The longer a food takes to process, the higher the tyramine levels.

Which fruits have high tyramine levels?

Citrus and Tropical Fruits Citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine contain high levels of tyramine. Tropical fruits have higher tyramine levels when ripened. Ripe bananas, pineapple, and avocado should be avoided if you are particularly sensitive to tyramine.

Why is tyramine in a list different?

This variation is caused by the same food having different amounts of tyramine in it when tested by the list-maker. When items appeared in two columns, the item was placed in the more restrictive column. For example, canned shellfish appears in the caution column in most lists, but appears in the avoid column in a few lists.

Is tyramine a natural compound?

Tyramine is a natural compound found in plants and animals. It is a byproduct of the breakdown of tyrosine, an amino acid. Tyrosine and tyramine are commonly found in many foods. High amounts of tyramine can cause several health problems, the most common being migraine headaches.

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