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Dietary Precautions While Taking MAOIs


Updated June 17, 2009

Tyramine is a compound found in many foods, beverages and other substances. This compound has an effect on blood pressure and is regulated by the MAO enzyme. When the MAO enzyme is inhibited (such as when taking an MAOI), tyramine can reach dangerously high levels, resulting in critically high blood pressure. While taking an MAOI, it will be necessary to avoid foods and beverages high in tyramine to prevent potentially fatal high blood pressure spikes.

1. Meat Products

  • beef liver
  • chicken liver
  • fermented sausages (pepperoni, salami)
  • luncheon meats

2. Fish Products

  • caviar
  • cured fish
  • dried or pickled herring
  • shrimp paste

3. Milk Products

  • aged cheeses
  • processed cheeses
  • sour cream
  • yogurt

4. Fruits and Vegetables

  • bananas
  • overripe fruits
  • overripe avocados
  • fava beans
  • sauerkraut
  • canned figs
  • Italian green beans
  • snow peas

5. Alcohol

  • red wines, Chianti wine
  • beers containing yeast
  • sherry
  • vermouth

6. Miscellaneous

  • concentrated yeast products
  • brewer's yeast
  • Miso (a type of soup or sauce)
  • Soy sauce

7. Other Dietary Considerations

Tyramine is also produced in foods during the spoiling or decay process.

  • Check packaged foods for freshness. Don't consume products beyond the freshness date.
  • Cook all foods to the proper temperature.
  • Maintain cold foods at the proper temperature.
  • Don't refreeze foods that have been thawed.
  • Avoid leftovers, even if they have been refrigerated.
  • Consume cooked foods promptly, making sure proper food temperature is maintained.


Kaplan MD, Harold I. and Sadock MD, Benjamin J. Synopsis of Psychiatry, Eighth Edition 1998 Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

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