MAOI Diet Facts

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions. If you are taking MAOIs, you will follow a special diet.

A side effect of this type of medicine is that a normally harmless substance in food, tyramine (TY-ra-meen), is not broken down by the body.

High levels of tyramine can cause blood vessels to narrow. This can lead to very high blood pressure, a severe headache, and possibly bleeding.

To avoid these serious side effects, you should avoid certain foods or eat them only in small amounts. The chart on the inside pages will help guide you in your food choices.

Important Tips to Remember

  • Foods that are close to spoiling, are aged (like cheese), or have been stored for a long time have higher levels of tyramine than fresh foods do.

    Try to prepare and eat fresh foods. Look for the expiration date on food packages. Avoid using dairy products that are close to their expiration date.

  • Start the MAOI diet (also called the “low tyramine” or “tyramine-controlled” diet) when you begin taking MAOI medication.

  • Continue the MAOI diet for four weeks (or as directed by your physician) after stopping the MAOI medication.



 Food  Allowed Limit Avoid
  • Milk
  • Decaf coffee and tea
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate drinks
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
  • White wine and clear spirits (limit two 8 oz. servings)
  • Alcoholic drinks, especially beer, ale, wine (Chianti, burgundy, sherry, vermouth, sauterne), and nonalcoholic beer and wine
  • Acidophilus milk
  •  Whole-wheat enriched white breads, rolls, crackers, and quick breads
  • None
  • Cheese breads
  • Crackers
  • Sourdough and fresh, homemade, yeast-leavened breads
  • Cooked and dry cereals
  • None
  • None
Cheese and Dairy Products
  • Cottage cheese, farmer or pot cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and processed cheese
  • Buttermilk (limit to 4 oz.), sour cream, yogurt (national brands only-limit to 4 oz. per day)
  • All other cheese: aged cheese, Camembert, cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, Roquefort, and Stilton
  • Cakes and cookies
  • Gelatins
  • Ice cream and sherbets
  • Pastries
  • Puddings
  • Chocolate desserts
  • Cheese-filled desserts and cheesecake
  • All
  • None
  • Quiche with cheese
  • All
  • None


  • Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and juices
  • None
  • Banana peel extract
  • Overripe and spoiled fruits
Meats, Fish, and Poultry
  • All fresh or frozen meats, fish, or poultry
  • Aged meats and frankfurters
  • Fresh sausage and pepperoni
  • Canned sardines
  • Canned meats
  • Fish roe (caviar) and
    (limit to 1 oz.)
  • Caviar (more than 1 oz.)
  • Chicken and beef liver
  • Dried, salted, and pickled fish
  • Fermented and dry sausages
  • Salami
  • Dried meats and meat extracts
Potatoes and Substitutes
  • White and sweet potatoes
  • Grits, pasta, and rice
  • None
  • None
  • All cream and broth soups, except those on the "Avoid" list
  • None
  • Soups from Italian broad beans and fava beans
  • Cheese soup
  • Soup made with beer or wine
  • Any soup cubes or meat extract
  • Packet soups and packaged soups
  • Miso soup
  • Sugars, hard candies, honey, molasses, and syrups
  • Chocolate candies and chocolate syrups
  • Imported chocolate
  • All fresh, frozen, canned or dried vegetables and vegetable juices, except those on the "Avoid" list
  • None
  • Chinese pea pods
  • Fava beans and Italian broad beans
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented soybean products miso and some tofu products)
  • Salt
  • Nuts and peanut butter
  • Spices, herbs, and flavorings
  • Soy sauce (limit to 1/4 cup) and teriyaki sauce (limit to 1/4 cup)
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Marmite (vegetable extracts)
  • Yeast concentrates
  • Vitamin supplements with brewer's yeast
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • All aged products


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