Foods to manage tension headaches

Tension headaches are considered as common headaches that causes tightness in the scalp muscles and neck. In case tension headaches occur for 15 days or more in a month, it is considered as a chronic case. As for episodic tension headaches, they occur occasionally.

The possible causes for this type of headache include depression, stress, overexertion, eye strain, injuries, skipped meals, clenching of the teeth and certain medications. Even though certain foods will not put a stop to tension headaches, the consumption of certain foods and avoidance of others can help minimize the harshness of the symptoms.


Soybeans are legumes packed with fiber and protein. Various foods such as dairy products, aged cheeses, smoked fish and processed meats are capable of triggering tension headaches. By replacing these foods with soy-based yogurt and cheeses, soy milk, steamed soybeans, edamame, tofu and soy-based vegan burgers, the individual can suffer from fewer headaches. In case dairy products instigate the symptoms, edamame, tofu and fortified soy milk might be beneficial alternatives that are vital in maintaining proper bone health.

Tension headache

A number of individuals who suffer from recurrent or chronic tension headaches have allergies or sensitivities to wheat or gluten.

Whole grains

Whole grains are comprised of fiber and nutrient-rich components. Due to this, they are capable of promoting wellness, balance with the blood sugar level and optimum digestive function than the refined grains such as white flour.

A number of individuals who suffer from recurrent or chronic tension headaches have allergies or sensitivities to wheat or gluten which is a protein present in barley, wheat and rye.

By opting for the complex, healthy carbohydrate sources such as whole grain pasta, breads, cereals and rice as well as avoidance of foods that contain gluten or wheat, the individual can experience fewer headaches.

Fish and poultry

Lean poultry and fresh fish are considered high-quality sources that have less saturated fat, chemical additives and tyramine which are substances linked with tension headaches. It is important to note that lean meat and fish contain less saturated fat than red meat, dark meat poultry and fried meats that might promote inflammation.

Fresh cold water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, halibut, flounder and sardines provide omega-3 fats that have anti-inflammatory effects. Due to this, fresh fish and lean poultry are recommended as part of a low tyramine diet.

Plant-based oils

Plant-based oils such as canola and olive oil are unsaturated fat sources that promotes nutrient absorption, heart health and brain function. Even though peanut butter, avocados and nuts can also provide unsaturated fat, they can instigate or even aggravate tension headaches.

The individual should cut down on these foods and cook poultry and fish using canola or olive oil. Both olive and canola oil are heart-healthy alternatives to cheese, creamy dressing and bacon. Other plant-based options include sunflower, safflower as well as walnut and soybean oil.


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