HEADACHE RE­LIEF FROM THE KITCHEN,

7 foods that soothe headache pain

Better Nutrition - - FRONT PAGE - BY LISA TURNER

Mi­graines and se­vere headaches are one of the most de­bil­i­tat­ing— and com­mon— ail­ments in the United States. A Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion ( CDC) sur­vey found that 20 per­cent of women and al­most 10 per­cent of men re­ported hav­ing a se­vere headache or mi­graine in a three- month pe­riod. If you’re one of them, put some re­lief right on your plate with these seven foods that ease headache pain.

Cher­ries This sweet fruit con­tains an ar­ray of polyphe­nol an­tiox­i­dants shown to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, a ma­jor contributing fac­tor in many headaches and mi­graines. Sev­eral stud­ies have found re­duced an­tiox­i­dant ac­tiv­ity and in­creased ox­ida­tive stress in pa­tients with chronic mi­graine and med­i­ca­tion-overuse headaches ( a con­di­tion caused by overuse of pain- re­lief drugs). Try this: Blend cher­ries with co­conut milk, vanilla, and honey, and freeze in an ice- cream maker; toss them with bal­samic vine­gar, grill un­til ten­der, and add to a salad of arugula, goat cheese, and hazel­nuts; dip whole cher­ries with stems in melted dark choco­late for an easy, el­e­gant dessert.

Cu­cum­bers They're 96 per­cent wa­ter, and can help pre­vent de­hy­dra­tion, a known cause of many headaches. The rea­son: when the body is de­hy­drated, the brain tem­po­rar­ily shrinks and con­tracts, caus­ing pain. In one study, peo­ple with headaches re­ported a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in pain and over­all qual­ity of life when they were hy­drated. In ad­di­tion to cu­cum­bers, cel­ery, lettuce, pep­pers, and toma­toes are all hy­drat­ing foods that con­tain as much as 94 per­cent wa­ter. Try this: Slice them cross­wise, then top with smoked salmon; blend peeled cu­cum­ber with le­mon­ade and mint for a re­fresh­ing drink; purée with Greek yo­gurt, onions, and gar­lic for a sim­ple cold soup.

Wild Alaskan salmon Like sar­dines, tuna, mack­erel, and her­ring, salmon is rich in omega- 3 fatty acids, shown to de­crease fre­quency of headaches. In one study, lower in­take of EPA and DHA— the type of omega- 3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish— was as­so­ci­ated with higher fre­quency of mi­graine at­tacks. In an­other study, 74– 87 per­cent of ado­les­cents who took omega- 3 fish oil re­ported a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in headache fre­quency, du­ra­tion, and sever­ity. Try this: Mix cooked salmon with minced scal­lions and mashed av­o­cado, and stuff in a taco shell, then top with slaw; sauté smoked salmon, onions, and shred­ded sweet pota­toes into an easy break­fast hash; mix salmon with bread crumbs and sea­son­ings, and grill like a burger.

Swiss chard The mag­ne­sium in Swiss chard and other leafy greens can help pre­vent mag­ne­sium de­fi­ciency, which is more com­mon in mi­graine suf­fer­ers than in peo­ple who don’t have mi­graines. In one study, pa­tients with chronic mi­graines re­ported sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment af­ter tak­ing 600 mg of mag­ne­sium daily for 12 weeks. Spinach, beet greens, peanut but­ter, and tofu are also high in mag­ne­sium. Try this: Brush whole chard leaves and stems with olive oil, and grill un­til lightly charred; top a pizza with chopped chard leaves, sautéed mush­rooms, and leeks; sauté shred­ded chard, gar­lic, and cherry toma­toes, then toss with bu­ca­tini pasta and grated Asi­ago cheese.

Quinoa This gluten- free, grain­like seed is rich in nutri­ents linked with lower risk of mi­graines, in­clud­ing ri­boflavin, mag­ne­sium, and iron. The high iron con­tent of quinoa — 15 per­cent of the daily value— can pro­tect against iron- de­fi­ciency ane­mia, which has been linked with mi­graines. Quinoa is also high in fo­late, a B vi­ta­min shown to re­duce mi­graine fre­quency.

Try this: Toss cooked quinoa with chopped cu­cum­bers, pars­ley, mint, green onions, feta cheese, and a light vinai­grette for a gluten- free tab­bouleh; sauté cooked quinoa with chopped chard and shal­lots, then top with a poached egg; cook quinoa, lentils, broc­col­ini, and red onions in a mix­ture of co­conut milk and veg­etable broth for a sa­vory soup.

Black- eyed peas Like other beans, peas, and lentils, they're an ex­cel­lent source of low- fat, high­fiber, plant- based pro­tein. In one study, a ve­gan diet was as­so­ci­ated with re­duced mi­graine pain. In other stud­ies, a low- fat, high- pro­tein ve­gan diet re­duced fre­quency of pre­men­strual headaches. Be­cause they also im­prove blood sugar pa­ram­e­ters, black- eyed peas and other legumes can help pre­vent chronic mi­graine, which has been linked with in­sulin re­sis­tance. And they're a good source of headache- bust­ing iron and mag­ne­sium. Try this: Sauté black- eyed peas with shred­ded col­lards and sliced okra for a South­ern- style side; toss black- eyed peas with chopped spinach, chopped red onion, and diced red and yel­low pep­pers; purée black- eyed peas with tahini, olive oil, and gar­lic for a riff on hum­mus.

Shi­itake mush­rooms They're a good source of ri­boflavin, a B vi­ta­min that's been shown to re­duce the fre­quency and du­ra­tion of mi­graine at­tacks with no side ef­fects. In one study, pa­tients who took ri­boflavin re­ported a sig­nif­i­cant drop in headache fre­quency, and were able to de­crease their use of an­timi­graine drugs. Shi­itake mush­rooms are also high in mag­ne­sium to ease headache pain. Try this: Sauté sliced shi­itakes in sesame oil, then toss with a honey- miso glaze; finely chop shi­itakes, gin­ger, gar­lic, and green onions in a food pro­ces­sor, and use as a stuff­ing for pot­stick­ers; sim­mer whole shi­itake mush­room tops and baby bok choy in mirin and tamari.

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