Diet, Triggers

Legumes a Migraine Trigger

In response to Trigger-Happy, Christina pointed out that she saw a pattern in my triggers. Peanuts aren’t actually nuts, they are legumes. Beans are also legumes, so it may follow that legumes are the culprit.

Epicurious defines legumes as:

Any of thousands of plant species that have seed pods that split along both sides when ripe. Some of the more common legumes used for human consumption are beans, lentils, peanuts, peas and soybeans. Others, such as clover and alfalfa, are used as animal fodder. When the seeds of a legume are dried, they’re referred to as pulses. The high-protein legumes are a staple throughout the world. They contain some vitamin B, carbohydrates, fats and minerals.

Many common foods are categorized as legumes. The links provide lists of the foods included in each of the subcategories. Some foods that I never think of as legumes include green beans (they’re a green vegetable, not a bean!), split peas and miso.

I am, of course, reluctant to test different legumes to see if they are triggers. Not only because I don’t want to have a migraine, I don’t want to learn that I have to stop eating them. And because I’m still working on housewifing and Hart’s picky about fruits and vegetables. It figures that two vegetables that he actually likes would trigger my headaches.


15 thoughts on “Legumes a Migraine Trigger”

  1. Fresh cooked legumes are okay if you eat it the day you cook (eat within 4 hours if cooking). It eating leftovers in following days after cooking. I grew up on legumes for protein & have learn to not eat any leftover cooked legumes if any type.

  2. Migraines are often a sign of histamine intolerance. Most items that trigger migraines are also on the lists of foods to avoid when histamine intolerant. I have mutations in both my DAO and HNMT genes. As a result, I have symptoms from excess peripheral and brain histamine. The latter causes migraines and related symptoms. Lentils seem to raise my brain histamine to levels that trigger a migraine. Chickpeas seem to be safe. Histamine does not cross the blood brain barrier but histidine does. So it is either the peripheral blood histidine levels or effects on brain histamine release that are affected by lentils.

  3. I am 70 year female who has suffered migraines all my life. I recently learnt about pulses/lentils of any type causing headaches. I now try not to eat leftover legumes, if I do (because my memory causes problem) I try to keep small coke cans which tends to help sometimes.

  4. I get migraines from all legumes, sigh. I think if you are intolerant to one you are intolerant to the lot. I adore Asian food and soy sauce is made from salted and fermented bean sprouts. Bean sprouts are legumes. Also I get migraines from anything fermented. For me soy carries a double impact.

    1. So glad you told me about bean sprouts.
      I have Migraine headaches twice a day and moist of the time all weekend.
      I thought if I can’t have beans I would eat Chinese and use bean sprouts I my egg rolls. Wrong I can’t even have the Chinese because of the soy sauce.
      I have the headaches plus diverticulitis and so I can’t win I’m at the point where I don’t know what to eat. Because of the headaches I have lost 7 lbs in a week. The Dris talking Botox now. The

  5. When I tell people legumes (including peanuts) give me a migraine, they look at me like I’m the nut.
    I’m glad to see I’m not the only “nut” in this world, but sympathize with my fellow “nuts” because legumes are truly a very healthy/low fat protein source we aren’t able to enjoy.
    Be aware of hidden legumes:
    chips cooked in soybean oil (and for me, also cottonseed oil)
    fried foods – ask at restaurants what oil they use before ordering
    crackers? I hadn’t realized that before so thank you for the suggestion
    Keeping a diary is the only way to learn your triggers but it takes work and starting out with a very low menu selection. You also have to be mindful that it can take up to 48 hours from the time you ingest the trigger for it to actually cause the migraine. This is frustrating because you can blame the trigger on something that was not really the cause.
    As you can tell, I have been suffering with this issue for years so hope my comments help some of you “nuts”.

  6. I have been narrowing triggers down for many years and was very surprised when I realized that legumes were indeed a huge trigger for me. I noticed it first in lentils, beans, peanuts and even carob which I thought was a good substitute for chocolate but still caused headaches for me. Carob is a legume. Soy is bad and hard to avoid. It is in most crackers. Go figure.

    1. Karen, it depends on the person and the bean. Some people can tolerate a few legumes and others can’t tolerate any. It’s definitely a good idea to avoid them in an elimination diet, but it’s worth testing them individually to see if there’s a reaction.

      Take care,

  7. Cooked yellow splitpeas in rice; enjoyed it so much, I ate it 3 days in succession. Experienced a slight headache the 1st day; the 2nd day it got worse & was miserable by the 3rd day. I thought about everything I had eaten & decided it could be the peas, but I dismissed it. After a few weeks, I tried blackeyed peas in rice for 3 days (same result). I’m now convinced that I’m allergic. In the future, I will have it only one day at a time.

  8. You know I just bought some pecans, walnuts, cashews & almonds in bulk to make trail mix. I have been snacking on them the last couple of days, and noticed an aching headache last night. Then about 15-30 minutes ago I ate a handful, I now that same aching headache is back. I guess tomorrow, I’ll try the walnut by itself, and progress until I can pin point if these are the cause.

  9. This is such a good point. I’ve seen legumes listed various places as a possible trigger, but I guess I’d never thought much about what is included in the category. The only one I know for sure causes me problems is soybeans, but I’ll have to look out for others.

    Thanks! It’s been super helpful for me too. Unfortunately I’ve been too scared to eat beans since then, so I can’t actually test them.


  10. This is where keeping a headache diary with food triggers recorded can really become useful–it can reveal patterns you might not otherwise have noticed.

    Legumes are not always listed in headache trigger lists or in migraine texts. The first time I read about it? Dear Abby! 🙂

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud. What would we do without Dear Abby?


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