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You are here: Home | Autism Resource Links | AMINE CONTENT OF FOODS


Amines, as well as glutamates and salicylates, are organic compounds that can act on the human brain and blood vessels. These naturally-occurring components of food have been associated with a variety of symptoms including mental confusion, depression, and migraine headaches. Many patients note that certain foods can trigger migraine attacks and other psychological symptoms. Fortunately, identifying and avoiding amine-containing foods can help to significantly reduce pain and stress.

Amines arise as a result of protein breaking down; aged, overcooked and processed meats are high in amines. Browning, grilling, charring will increase amine level in comparison with food cooked by microwave or steaming. Amines also increase in ripening fruits that go soft, e.g. banana, avocado.

Glutamate is found in many foods in a natural protein-bound form. It is important in the enjoyable flavour of tomatoes, aged cheese and mushrooms, and most notably found in a Japanese seaweed sauce from which MSG was extracted. Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter in the brain; that is, it is responsible for transporting chemical signals from neuron to neuron. However, if the level of glutamates is too high, neurons can misfire, causing physical and psychological problems, and in extreme cases, permanent damage.

The table lists foods high in amines, with naturally occurring glutamates or added MSG marked *. Those marked # also high in salicylates, which occur naturally in many fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but which in some people can cause distressing symptoms and health problems.

The following amounts are equivalent:

  • 1 serve from the MODERATE group
  • 1/10 serve from the HIGH group
  • 1/100 serve from the VERY HIGH group

1 Serve = 1 Cup = 250 ml


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