Heartburn is a painful condition affecting roughly 20% of the population every week. The symptoms of heartburn are a tight, painful feeling through your chest. Heartburn is actually caused by acid reflux, which happens when stomach acid is released into the esophagus. The stomach acid eats away at the lining of the esophagus and can eventually cause permanent damage.
Certain foods can exacerbate acid reflux, causing heartburn. If you suffer from heartburn, try eating smaller portions in 4-6 meals a day. Overloading your stomach can cause acid to leak into your esophagus. Keep a food diary to identify which foods may trigger your heartburn. These are the top ten worst foods for heartburn:
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes, fresh or canned, can be a major trigger for heartburn. While they are very healthy vegetables, tomatoes are naturally high in acid. This can lead to acid reflux as you digest your meal. Be wary of tomatoes used in cooking as well – that pasta sauce could come back to haunt you. Don’t forget tomato-based condiments such as ketchup and salsa.
- Oranges – Your breakfast orange juice could be giving you heartburn later in the day. Oranges and other citrus fruit are high in acid, which can lead to acid reflux. Instead of citrus fruits, choose high alkaline foods. These include berries, apples, pears, bananas, and melon.
- Mint – While mint can sooth an upset stomach, it can actually make heartburn worse. The numbing effect of mint can relax your esophageal sphincter, letting stomach acid reach your esophagus.
- Beef – Beef may not come to mind when you think of heartburn. Unfortunately beef can be high in fat, which can cause acid reflux. Expensive cuts such as filet mignon, porterhouse, New York strip, and T-bone steaks are all high fat cuts of beef. Instead, opt for lean cuts of beef, including sirloin tip, top round, eye of the round, and top sirloin. Low fat cuts of beef can be tough, so marinate or stew the meat for best results.
- Coffee – Drinking coffee morning, noon and night can lead to some serious heartburn. Coffee is high in acid, which can exacerbate acid reflux. Caffeine also causes heartburn by relaxing the esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to rise. Moderation is key – a morning cup of coffee is probably okay, but don’t keep drinking it throughout the day.
- Cheese – Cheese is naturally high in fat. High fat foods delay digestion, putting pressure on your esophageal sphincter and letting acid through. Cheeses with the highest include cheddar, cream cheese, Gouda, Parmesan, and Stilton. Cheese sauces can be particularly bad, as they typically contain high amounts of heavy cream and butter.
- Soda – Soda can be very damaging to those who suffer from heartburn. Many varieties are high in acid, such as colas and fruit flavored sodas. The fizzy carbon dioxide can force open your esophagus, letting acid rise.
- Chocolate – Chocolate is a triple threat. It’s high in fat, which means it takes longer to digest. It’s high in caffeine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter and can let stomach acid creep up. Plus it’s a natural relaxant, releasing the pleasure hormones in your body. This action can also relax the sphincter. If you suffer from heartburn, you should definitely skip chocolate.
- Garlic – despite its reputation as a health food, garlic, especially when paired with onions can trigger heartburn symptoms.
- Butter – how you cook your food can also play a role in heartburn. Frying in butter and oil can add unwanted calories and fat to your meal.