Many food products contain the chemical tyramine and in most people, it is harmless. In people that take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), however, tyramine can lead to a dangerous spike in blood pressure. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are a type of antidepressant drug. Doctors advise people taking MAOIs to carefully avoid foods high in tyramine.
Doctors generally advise people taking MAOIs to avoid the following foods, but this may not be a comprehensive list. If your doctor has prescribed an MAOI for you, discuss your diet with your doctor in detail and ask for a written list of foods you should avoid. You might also wish to make an appointment with a registered dietician for help planning appropriate meals that avoid foods containing tyramine.
Meats to avoid include any aged or preserved meats like salami, pepperoni, pastrami, most lunch meats, all canned meats and beef jerky. Avoid beef and chicken liver and caviar. Both pickled and dried herring are to be avoided, as well.
Most cheeses should be avoided, including cheddar, parmesan, Swiss, Colby, mozzarella and other aged cheeses. Soft cheeses like cream cheese, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese can be safely consumed.
Sour cream and yogurt should be avoided. It is all right to have milk and ice cream.
Things like tofu, soy sauce and miso should be avoided.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables to avoid include snow peas, overripe avocados, fava beans andItalian broad beans. Sauerkraut must also be avoided. Some say bananas should be avoided altogether while others say only overripe bananas are a problem. Do not eat banana peels. Avoid raisins and other dried fruits, as well as canned figs.
Avoid most alcoholic drinks, including red wine, beer (including non-alcoholic beer), brandy, sherry and cognac. Small amounts of white wine, vodka or gin are usually OK but ask your doctor first. Doctors often advise avoiding all alcoholic beverages while taking antidepressant medications of any kind.
Other items that should be avoided include Brewer’s yeast, homemade breads that contain large amounts of yeast (if in doubt about a homemade bread recipe, check with your doctor or registered dietician), bouillon cubes, many commercial gravy mixes, large amounts of chocolate (two or three ounces should be OK) and any foods that are beyond their expiration dates or appear unfresh. Use caution when eating food you did not prepare yourself, such as food served in restaurants, because it is difficult to know for certain how fresh the food is. Make sure you inquire about the ingredients used in dishes ordered in restaurants or eaten in someone else’s home to make sure they don’t contain foods containing tyramine.
Psycom.net. http://www.psycom.net/depression.central.maoidiet.html. Foods and Drugs to Totally Avoid.
About.com. http://panicdisorder.about.com/od/treatments/tp/MAOIDiet.htm. Dietary Precautions While Taking MAOIs.
Depression Guide. http://www.depression-guide.com/tyramine.htm. Tyramine.