Several over-the-counter drugs and lots of sleep are typically prescribed to ease headaches, which can vary greatly in pain, pressure and even location. But what about attacking the pain with more natural sources? Here are six foods to reach for the next time you feel a headache coming on.
One of the main causes of a headache, unsurprisingly, is dehydration. Still, downing glasses of water in an attempt to rehydrate isn’t nearly as sweet as enjoying a bowl of this water-rich fruit. Watermelon also possesses 28g of magnesium per 280 grams, which is shown to be effective in headache prevention. If chewing is painful during a headache, try blending up some watermelon with honey, ice, and juice or yogurt for a replenishing smoothie.
Not just an old wives’ tale, caffeine in coffee actually does help to alleviate some headaches by reducing the size of blood vessels that are aggravated and expanded. Careful, though: Coffee is also a natural diuretic, so drinking too much means that the body will become more dehydrated and your headache may actually worsen. Start with one cup.
If caffeine helps to constrict blood vessels during a headache, the presence of magnesium in almonds helps to relax blood vessels so headaches don’t occur as frequently. Though almonds (and other magnesium-rich foods like bananas, avocados and brown rice) are technically preventative, some say their headaches are relieved when they go nuts.
Scientists say potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body, and evidence shows that a diet lacking in potassium could contribute to chronic head pain. Though bananas are the first thing many people think of when looking for high-potassium sources, baked potatoes contain significantly more potassium than the yellow fruit: almost 725 mg per potato — with its skin — compared to a banana’s 465 mg. So the next time your head hurts, try a spud.
While alcohol intake is one of the largest causes of headaches, sinus pressure is another. To relieve congestion, turn to spicy foods like salsa to help open airways and subsequently lift some of the pressure. Here, try and take the heat: the spicier the better. Just make sure to have a tissue nearby.
Spinach is full of vitamins and minerals that help work on headaches. Among them? 24 mg of magnesium and 167 mg of potassium per cup. Even better is that spinach continues to be incredibly dynamic: To help soothe a headache, you can blend this vegetable into a smoothie or juice, sauté it, or even eat it raw.