Foods To Help Heartburn

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Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest that commonly occurs after eating. This can happen when you’re experiencing acid reflux. This is when stomach acid regurgitates—or backs up—into the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.

If you are experiencing heartburn, you may also have:

  • Neck pains
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A cough that worsens when you lay down 
  • A burning sensation in your throat 

While uncomfortable, symptoms of occasional heartburn are common. If you experience heartburn often, it could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition that causes recurring episodes of acid reflux.

While there are several foods that can trigger heartburn, the good news is that some foods can ease your symptoms.

Foods That Can Help Heartburn

Incorporating heartburn-preventing foods in your diet can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Whole Grains

Whole grain foods are an important part of a healthy diet. They are a good source of fiber, which can help with digestion.

Fiber plays an important role in reducing heartburn symptoms. A diet low in fiber can slow down digestion and prevent the stomach from properly emptying. This can cause acid reflux symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation.

A 2018 study also found that people who ate foods rich in fiber had better digestion and experienced heartburn symptoms less frequently.

Some whole grain foods that can ease heartburn include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Cous cous
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread

Non-Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapples, and grapefruit can be highly acidic. The acid from these fruits can trigger heartburn symptoms.

Instead, you may want to try these non-citrus fruits:

  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew

You may also consider other options such as applesauce or freshly-squeezed juice from non-citrus fruits.

Poultry and Seafood

Foods that are high in fat may worsen heartburn symptoms. This happens because fatty and oily foods naturally take longer to digest. Examples of fatty and oily foods may include:

  • Fatty red meat such as filet mignon or bacon
  • Dairy items such as cheese, butter, and ice cream 
  • Chocolate and other sweets 

After you eat, your food travels from your mouth, through your esophagus, and then to your stomach. If your food takes too long to digest, it can weaken your esophageal muscles. If these muscles weaken, it can create a gap between your esophagus and stomach. As a result, stomach acid and food can travel back into the esophagus and cause heartburn symptoms.

If you experience heartburn, you may choose to reduce or avoid foods high in fat. As an alternative, you may find it helpful to eat leaner meats like chicken, turkey, or fish. 

When you prepare lean meats or seafood, it is best to limit the use of oil and butter. When cooking, try baking, broiling, or grilling methods—as fried foods can trigger heartburn symptoms.

Healthy Fats

Not all high-fat foods can trigger heartburn. In fact, healthy fats can help you reduce heartburn symptoms.

Foods high in saturated fats (e.g., fatty meat and dairy) and trans fats (e.g., margarine and baked goods) can worsen heartburn. Instead, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are a better option for people with heartburn. However, both of these types of fats should be eaten in moderation. 

Examples of monounsaturated fats include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower oil

Examples of polyunsaturated fats include:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax oil
  • Walnuts
  • Flax seeds
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Albacore tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Corn oil

Vegetables

Vegetables can help reduce heartburn symptoms because they are a good source of fiber and are typically low in fat. You can choose how you would like to include vegetables in your diet. You may consider using vegetables in your salad, adding chopped vegetables to your favorite meals, or blending them with fruits to make fresh juices. 

Some examples of vegetables you may consider eating include:

  • Ginger 
  • Potatoes 
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Green peppers
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach 
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower 
  • Carrots 

However, you may want to avoid using too much garlic or onion in your foods, as these vegetables contain high levels of acid.

Gum

Chewing gum in moderation can also ease symptoms of heartburn. 

When you chew gum, you increase the amount of saliva your mouth produces. An excess of saliva in your mouth can trigger you to swallow. The act of swallowing can help you push stomach acid or food back into the stomach and reduce the likelihood of experiencing heartburn.

However, you should avoid chewing gum that is spearmint or peppermint flavored because mint can inhibit the muscles in your esophagus from properly working.

A Quick Review

Whether you experience heartburn occassionally or frequently, you may want to try making some dietary changes that can help ease your symptoms. Foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats help reduce the likelihood of getting heartburn. Remember to do your best to avoid citrus fruits and foods high in fat or oil for best results. 

If you continue to experience heartburn and need support in managing your symptoms, reach out to a healthcare provider to find treatment options that are best for you. 

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating, diet, & nutrition for GER & GERD.

  3. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Diet changes for GERD.

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  9. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Choose healthy fats.

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