Foods high in tyramine include aged cheeses, cured meats, smoked fish and some beers. Storing protein-rich foods in the refrigerator for a long time or at the improper storage temperature increases the amount of tyramine they contain. Patients on a tyramine-restricted diet should cook and consume or freeze such foods soon after purchasing them. They should also avoid leftovers.
People who take a class of drugs know as monoamine oxidase inhibitors should avoid foods high in tyramine, as the combination leads to a rapid and serious increase in the blood pressure. MAOIs are a type of antidepressant first used in the 1950s. While there are newer types of antidepressants on the market, as of 2015, some patients find relief from MAOIs when other types of treatments fail.
MAOIs block the enzyme monoamine oxidase from breaking down tyramine, to help prevent depression. However, when the patient consumes foods high in tyramine, the enzyme levels sometimes quickly increase to dangerous levels, causing the blood pressure to increase. Patients may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, dialated pupils and a rapid heartbeat with the increase of tyramine levels. In rare instances, the combination of tyramine from food and MAOIs leads to a stroke or death. When patients take MAOIs they should have an emergency plan in place for responding to symptoms of high tyramine levels.