Skip to content

These 9 Fruits May Trigger Instant Migraines, New Study Says

Some favorite summer fruits had a huge downside in a study of migraine and tension headache patients.

If one of your favorite things about summer is loading up on fresh fruit, you're definitely not alone. But when it comes to the often mysterious phenomenon of migraine headaches, researchers in Brazil have tested a migraine theory to identify nine fruits to avoid for anyone who's sensitive to serious headaches. We have the list of all nine, ranked by their migraine trigger frequency.

The research team was composed of four neurology and nutrition pros who work at Brazilian universities or hospitals. The scientists designed the fruit migraine study on the premise that some foods have been recognized as migraine triggers, even though the mechanism behind this is not well understood. Past research had also looked at the effect on scents on migraine, with one study finding that perfume, paint, gasoline, and bleach—in that order—were significant migraine-triggering odors.

READ: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone To Take Right Now

The researchers for the current study wanted to examine some of the more aromatic everyday foods we eat to look for a similar effect. For some foods, the research abstract states, "There is evidence that they act on the pathogenesis of migraine, interfering with meningeal inflammation, vasodilation and cerebral glucose metabolism." In other words, past research had pointed to how some foods may lead to migraines due to how they impact neurological system inflammation, blood vessel dilation (and therefore blood pressure), and the brain's sugar metabolization.

The time after eating fruit that it took for the headaches to come on was also a point of interest. With all that in mind, the researchers studied almost 4,000 migraine patients, and just over 1,100 patients who suffer from tension headaches. Remarkably, in 40.3%, or almost 1,600 of the migraine patients, migraine onset occurred within eight to 90 minutes of ingesting the following fruits, ranked in order of which fruits caused migraines the most often in the study participants:

  • watermelon (29.5%)
  • passion fruit (3.73%)
  • orange (2.01%)
  • pineapple (1.52%)
  • grape (0.51%)
  • banana (0.46%)
  • cucumber (0.43%)
  • acerola (0.25%) (acerola is a fruit found in some parts of the global south that's somewhat similar to a cherry)
  • papaya (0.25%)

That's right: By a landslide, watermelon was the fruit that was associated with migraine onset in the most migraine patients. And while most migraine sufferers would probably be eager to make a diet change if it meant fewer headaches, this study is a relief for non-migraine patients, too: Only the study participants with a history of migraines suffered after eating these fruits. The researchers state that none of the tension headache patients reported the onset of a headache after eating these fruits. 

If you're invested in eating the foods that help  your body feel good, check out One Major Effect of Eating Almonds, Says New Study.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more
Filed Under