Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
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Sulfites in Food: Avoid the Headache and Asthma Trigger
Posted in Food Allergies by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Feb 21, 2012
Sulfites in food and wine are a trigger for headaches in many people. Additionally, a subset of people with asthma may have asthma attacks from ingestion of sulfites. Sulfites can be avoided, so it’s important to know where they hide and what the story is.

Sulfites have been used for centuries to freshen and prevent brown discoloration of foods. Sulfites are also used as sanitizers and to prevent the growth of bacteria in the fermentation industry. Sulfur dioxide in wine, inhibits the growth of molds and bacteria, stops oxidation (browning) and preserves the wine's natural flavor.

Sulfites can cause serious and potentially life-threatening asthmatic reactions in patients with asthma. About 5 percent of asthmatics may experience adverse reactions, from mild wheezing to severe bronchospasm, following ingestion of sulfite-containing foods or beverages.

Sulfites are also widely known to be a trigger for migraine headaches. So here are the foods that contain sulfites you should try and avoid, as a migraine sufferer.

High content:
- Dried fruit (excluding raisins and prunes)

- Lemon juice (nonfrozen)

- Lime juice (nonfrozen)

- Wine (wines that use organic fruit will contain less sulfites)

- Molasses

- Sauerkraut juice

- Grape juice (white, white sparkling, pink sparkling, red sparkling)
Foods containing a moderate amount of sulfites are:
- dried potatoes

- wine vinegar

- gravies and sauces

- fruit topping

- maraschino cherries

- fresh shrimp

- sauerkraut

- pickled peppers

- pickles/relishes
Foods with low content of sulfites are less likely to cause migraines or asthma attacks, but we should still be aware they do contain some sulfites.

Those low content foods are:
- corn starch

- frozen potatoes

- maple syrup

- fresh mushrooms

- imported jams and jellies

- beer

- dry soup mix

- soft drinks

- instant tea

- frozen pizza dough

- pie dough

- gelatin

- coconut
Weigh in. Has it helped you to stay away from sulfites?

- Dr O.


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CATEGORIES: Overview
CONDITIONS AND COMMUNITIES: Asthma  •  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome  •  Food Allergies  •  Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  •  Migraine Headaches  •  Rheumatoid Arthritis
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3
bananas especially if they are overripe give me an instant headache
By mightymo121646  Feb 22, 2012
2
Watch out for medications. PredForte, for example is an eye drop used for postoperative care that uses sulfites as a preservative. I got chest pain from it, and found out from the package insert that the manufacturer warns that asthma patients should stop using it if that happens, since it could cause anaphylaxis with continued use.
By RichieD  Feb 22, 2012
1
is it normal that i only get headache when eating almost all the foods in the third, low content, category???
By drwho546  Feb 21, 2012
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