Foods that can help migraine | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

More fatty seafood, seeds and other omega-3 fatty acids can help migraine attacks, study finds

Foods that can reduce the number of migraine attacks and their severity include fatty fish, seeds and other foods high in certain omega-3 fatty acids, according to a recent clinical trial.

Foods that can help migraine by reducing the number of attacks and their severity include fatty fish, seeds and other foods high in certain omega-3 fatty acids, according to a recent clinical trial.

Compared with a control group eating a typical American diet, patients who ate foods high in the two omega-3s — eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — had significantly fewer headaches and less severe headaches during the 16-week trial, according to a report on the study in The BMJ.

Even fewer headaches were reported by study participants in a group that ate the higher EPA and DHA diet while reducing the amount of foods with linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fat found in chicken, potato and corn chips and other processed foods. The same participants also reported less reliance on acute pain drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, triptans or others, including acetaminophen and opioids, the study found.

Study participants, however, did not report a significant change in quality of life. Nonetheless, the study’s authors concluded the results show it’s plausible that pain can be treated through targeted changes in diet.

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“This trial had inconclusive results when participants rated the improvement in their quality of life. But the results suggest it’s plausible that targeted dietary changes can treat migraine pain,” said Mandy J. Whitt, M.D., a headache specialist with Norton Neuroscience Institute. “More study is needed, and those who experience migraine may be disappointed if they try to achieve significant results on their own.”

For some people, certain foods can trigger migraine attacks. Some common suspects include gluten, monosodium glutamate (MSG), alcohol, artificial sweeteners and caffeine.

Foods high in EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids can help migraine

  • Chia seeds
  • Edamame
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Kidney beans
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Seabass
  • Seaweed and algae
  • Shrimp
  • Trout

Foods high in linoleic acid

  • Soybean oil — commonly found in processed foods
  • Vegetable oils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beef, chicken and pork
  • Eggs


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