7 Foods to Fight Migraines

There are a number of healthy foods to fight migraines that you can include in your diet on a regular basis. Keep reading.
7 Foods to Fight Migraines
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 21 March, 2023

Migraines are one of the most frequent problems among the population of developed countries. They usually occur with a headache that’s often disabling. The most typical treatment is pharmacological, although it’s possible to fight migraines through the consumption of certain foods.

Keep in mind that the pathophysiology of migraines isn’t clear today. Experts have suggested that certain changes in blood pressure parameters could play a part. A fairly clear relationship is also established with stressful situations. Even so, many unknowns remain to be resolved in this regard.

What are migraines?

First, the concept of migraines must be specifically defined. From a health point of view, this pathology is understood as a type of headache characterized by the development of frequent headaches. These can vary in terms of intensity, duration, and periodicity. Sometimes, visual disturbances can even be experienced during episodes.

On the one hand, it should be noted that there’s a genetic determination that predisposes individuals to migraines. However, environmental conditions appear to be very important in determining the risk of developing crises. Conditions such as a sedentary lifestyle and anxiety increase their intensity and frequency.

Just the same, experts are discussing today which are the best treatments for migraines. Not even the same drugs manage to treat the problem in a similar way around the world. You have to adjust the doses and find the optimal drug for each patient. Likewise, it should be noted that migraines are a very common health problem that affects almost half of the population.

Migraines may not only lead to headaches. Nausea, vomiting, photophobia, sonophobia, and osmophobia are also occasionally experienced. This symptomatological picture is capable of causing temporary or permanent disability in the worst cases. As a curious fact, it should be mentioned that migraines are more frequent in women. Sometimes they’re associated with the menstrual period.

Foods to fight migraines

Now that it’s clear what migraines consist of, we’re going to describe the best foods that can be included in your diet to deal with them. They won’t only reduce the frequency of crises, but also their intensity. Even so, keep in mind that one of the bases to improve this condition has to do with reaching an adequate state of body composition.

Salmon: Fish help fight migraines

Migraines are associated, among other things, with an increase in inflammation at the systemic level. The excessive promotion of inflammatory processes can lead to an increase in blood pressure, thus causing inefficiencies in blood circulation at the brain level. For this reason, it will be essential to include foods capable of restoring homeostasis in the diet.

In this regard, salmon is one of the preferred products. It’s an oily fish that’s characterized by its concentration of omega 3 series fatty acids, elements capable of reducing the levels of inflammation in the body. This is evidenced by an investigation published in the journal International Immunology. They are also nutrients that protect against the development of various cardiovascular diseases.

Keep in mind that salmon is one of the large blue fish that contains the least amount of mercury. This data is decisive, as this heavy metal could be associated with the development of neurological problems in the medium term. It’s an element that accumulates in adipose tissue, so the poisoning generated is chronic.

On the other hand, salmon has proteins or high biological value, necessary to achieve an optimal state of body composition. It also contains iodine, a mineral that can reduce the risk of inefficiencies in the function of the thyroid gland. Any alteration in this organ changes the state of metabolism alarmingly.


Walnuts are nuts that also stand out for their content of omega 3 series fatty acids. In general, they have a very high-quality lipid profile, predominantly unsaturated fats. They also manage to provide a good amount of proteins, although their biological value is low. They don’t have a high bioavailability at the intestinal level.

We must also refer to the micronutrient content of walnuts, as we’re talking about foods with high nutritional density. Among all of them, selenium stands out, an element with marked antioxidant properties. According to a study published in Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine, this substance neutralizes the formation of free radicals and their accumulation in tissues.

This antioxidant effect not only delays the signs of aging but also controls inflammatory mechanisms. In this way, it can be very positive in terms of preventing headaches and migraines. Research published in the journal Antioxidants suggests the use of these elements to reduce the frequency of attacks.

Now, walnuts, like the rest of the nuts, must be consumed in moderation. We’re talking about a product that stands out for its energy density. If they’re ingested in excess, it could cause an imbalance in the caloric balance, which ends up causing an increase in body weight. This condition isn’t at all positive for health.

Likewise, it’s important to bear in mind that you should always consume roasted or natural nuts. Never salty or fried. In the latter case, an increase in their caloric value would be generated. In addition, the percentage of trans-type fatty acids that they concentrate inside would increase, these compounds being highly inflammatory.

Cocoa, one of the plant foods to fight migraines

Among the foods to combat migraines is cocoa.
The traditional version of cocoa provides numerous health benefits as long as its consumption is moderate. Some migraine sufferers may experience an improvement in their symptoms when consuming it.

Cocoa is one of the best foods of plant origin that can be introduced into the diet. Now, when we talk about cocoa, we’re not referring to commercial industrial chocolate. This edible usually stands out for the presence of simple sugars inside, which significantly alters its nutritional quality. These compounds have been shown to be harmful to health in the medium term.

However, pure bitter cocoa is a product with a high nutrient density. It has in its interior quality lipids, abundant antioxidants, and essential minerals. Its consumption is related to an increase in the synthesis of serotonin, the hormone of happiness. This is confirmed by research published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Experts point out that the synthesis of serotonin is a key point in the treatment and prevention of migraine. In fact, many drugs act on this pathway to achieve a reduction in symptoms. Although there are several questions to be resolved, what’s clear is that promoting a situation of relaxation reduces the risk of migraine, and for this, cocoa can be helpful.

Of course, when buying chocolate at the supermarket, it will be essential to check the labeling. The best thing is to always buy one that has more than 80% cocoa inside. A dose of 40 grams per day would be optimal to take advantage of the beneficial effects of this food, maximizing the contribution of theobromine, a powerful antioxidant of natural origin.

Keep in mind that bitter cocoa can also be used to make several different culinary preparations. It can be included in many types of drinks, improving their taste and quality. It’s also a good idea to add this food to dairy products. Even its combination with nuts generates great results.


There is an intense debate about the role of coffee in the risk of developing migraines. On the one hand, some experts defend that the caffeine contained in this drink is capable of increasing blood pressure, which would trigger the incidence of episodes. However, there are also publications that show that this effect occurs temporarily. In the long term, the opposite is true.

The presence of large amounts of antioxidants in coffee could generate a downward modulation of blood pressure values when it’s consumed chronically. For this reason, it may be advisable to include the drink in the usual diet, although in moderate doses, and avoiding adding sugars. However, the scientific literature still reflects some discord.

In general, coffee is a very beneficial product for health. The flavonoids it contains help prevent many chronic and complex diseases that develop in the long term. In fact, consuming a couple of cups of this drink a day is associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, regardless of whether it contains caffeine or not.

In addition, the alkaloid itself is capable of generating an increase in oxidation and the mobilization of fats, which stimulates weight loss. It’s one of the substances that are most used when the objective is to improve a person’s body composition. It also has a certain satiating character, which makes it possible to reduce the volume of intake.

As if this weren’t enough, caffeine also acts as an ergogenic aid in the context of sports. This means that it’s capable of increasing the performance of athletes. It allows a temporary increase in cognitive function and saves muscle and liver glycogen, which prevents fatigue when performing high-intensity exercise.

Yogurt, one of the best foods to fight migraines

Yogurt is another food that can be useful to combat migraines. It has probiotics inside and is also a source of potassium. Its inclusion in the diet improves digestive and intestinal health, as well as providing proteins of high biological value that contribute to reaching an optimal body composition state.

It must be taken into account that the intestinal microbiota is closely related to the function of the nervous system. There’s a two-way communication evidenced between the intestine and the brain. For this reason, preventing disorders in the digestive tract could be key to avoiding situations of anxiety, stress, neurodegenerative diseases… and even migraines.

To improve the diversity of the intestinal flora, the administration of probiotics and fiber is decisive. These bacteria can be included in the guideline through fermented dairy foods, although it is also possible to choose a supplement from them. Be that as it may, yogurt is always a good option to take care of digestive function.

Also, yogurt is one of the foods with the highest potassium content that can be included in the diet. This mineral has been shown to be able to lower blood pressure. As we discussed earlier, avoiding hypertensive situations is crucial to reducing the incidence of migraines. Therefore, they’ll be experienced with less frequency and intensity.

It’s not always easy to choose a quality yogurt. Most of those that are offered in the supermarket have too many added sugars inside, which isn’t good news. Many others contain artificial sweeteners, compounds that could reduce the density and diversity of the microbiota in the medium term, thus generating adverse effects.

Chickpeas to fight migraines

It’s not only important to ensure the intake of probiotics to ensure that the intestinal flora is healthy and functional. It’s also necessary to ensure that the daily fiber requirements are met. This substance is key to preventing constipation and increasing the feeling of fullness. It ferments at the intestinal level, serving as an energy substrate for the bacteria that inhabit the tube.

In this way, the inclusion of legumes in the diet is one of the best ways to increase the daily fiber intake. These foods also provide many other health-positive nutrients, such as protein, complex carbohydrates, and essential minerals.

Of course, they’re not always easy to digest. Some people may experience gas or abdominal discomfort after consumption. This may be indicative that there’s some hidden digestive disease or that the composition of the microbiota isn’t optimal. It would be necessary to rule out intestinal dysbiosis or to treat it if the diagnosis is confirmed.

As a strategy to ensure that legumes aren’t indigestible, it’s worth highlighting the option of cooking them over low heat for long periods of time. This softens the fibers, so they’ll ferment less as they pass through the tube. Another option is to subject these foods to a process of mechanical destruction. For example, if hummus is made with chickpeas, possible digestive problems disappear.


Strawberries, as well as many other berries, have high amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds. Both elements are decisive in order to fight migraines, reducing their frequency and intensity.

The phytonutrients and flavonoids contained in strawberries and berries are capable of modulating the inflammatory mechanisms of the body, something that’s essential in order to reduce the incidence of migraines. It’s important that they appear in the diet frequently, although they must be consumed naturally, avoiding juices and smoothies.

Foods you should avoid in order to fight migraines

Migraine-fighting foods don't include soft drinks.
Sugary drinks contain a large number of additives that could be harmful for people with migraine attacks.

Just as we’ve mentioned certain foods that can be included in the diet in order to combat migraines, we’re going to name others that should be avoided at all costs. Among the latter, industrial ultra-processed products stand out, with a high concentration of simple sugars, trans fats, and additives. All these compounds manage to worsen health in the long term, in general.

Sugars affect the functioning of the metabolism and blood pressure levels. They also increase the risk of developing excess weight or obesity. At the same time, trans fats turn out to be pro-inflammatory, which generates a greater risk of experiencing chronic and complex diseases in the medium and long term.

When it comes to additives, there are many disagreements among experts. Most of those used are considered safe for health. However, we can find preservatives such as nitrites that are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study published in Nutrients. In turn, artificial sweeteners generate alterations in the microbiota.

For this reason, it’s essential to opt for fresh food to achieve a quality diet. The presence of vegetables and fish in the diet should be increased, avoiding bakery products, sweets, pre-cooked foods, fast food, and soft drinks. The latter, along with alcohol, could increase the risk of migraines.

These foods and drinks are capable of significantly increasing blood pressure levels. In addition, alcohol modifies the production of certain hormones. It’s excessively toxic to the liver and generates an increase in systemic inflammation that ends up causing inefficiencies at the physiological level. It’s a toxin that must be avoided in any quantity.

Other habits to fight migraines

When it comes to fighting migraines, it’s not only optimal to improve your diet. There are other strategies that can be put into practice and that offer good results in the medium term. The first one has to do with the practice of physical exercise on a regular basis, especially strength exercise. In this way, an improvement in body composition and physiological parameters is achieved.

At least 3 or 4 sessions of medium or high-intensity physical work should be performed each week. If this routine is accompanied by a development of aerobic capacity, the results would be even better. Therefore, an increase in cardiovascular efficiency is experienced, which has a positive effect on blood pressure.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the practice of physical exercise leads to the secretion of endorphins. These neurotransmitters are very involved in the feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Increasing their concentration reduces the risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, or other related problems. This also positively impacts migraine management.

At the same time, it’s also key to promote other habits that contribute to reaching a state of relaxation. An example can be meditation. Dedicating a few minutes a day to this practice is also positive in order to reduce the incidence and pain of migraines and neurological problems. Even other associated symptoms such as nausea can be avoided.

Some people have also chosen to try certain treatments included in traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture. This practice has certain evidence regarding the modulation and treatment of pain, so it could relieve migraine symptoms. However, it’s not clear that it’s capable of attacking the source of the problem.

Introduce foods to fight migraines into your diet

There are a number of foods that can fight migraines if they’re included frequently in the context of a diet that’s varied and balanced in regard to energy. Achieving a good state of body composition to reduce the incidence of these diseases is also essential.

In addition, you can start another series of habits that help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. Motivating a state of relaxation through practices such as meditation and physical exercise will be truly positive.

There are even certain supplements that can be taken to treat migraines. All those that improve the quality of the night’s rest could have positive effects. Among the most famous are melatonin, magnesium, tryptophan, and 5-htp. However, it’s always best to consult a specialist before consuming them.

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