Top 10 Heartburn Foods
From coffee to grapefruit -- helpful tips for avoiding those enticing foods that may just trigger your heartburn.
Heartburn and Peppermint
Chutkan says that while many people think peppermint is soothing for the
tummy, it is actually a heartburn trigger food. Her advice? Skip the
after-dinner mints -- especially after a rich meal. "They may be good for your
breath on a date," she says, "but they are not so good if you are prone to
Peppermint may increase your chances of heartburn because it relaxes the
sphincter muscle that lay between the stomach and esophagus. This allows
stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus.
Heartburn and Cheese, Nuts, Avocadoes, and a Juicy Rib Eye
What do these foods have in common? They are all high in fat, according to
Chutkan. "These foods may not get as much press as acidic foods when it comes
to heartburn," she says, "but they can be major triggers." Here's why: Fat
slows down the emptying of the stomach, so there is more opportunity for a big
distended stomach -- which increases pressure on the esophageal sphincter -- to
make heartburn more likely.
Chutkan says that doesn't mean you can never have those foods again. "Don't
have a cheese plate at the end of a meal," she suggests. "Instead, eat it early
in the day when you are not already full." Remember, a serving of cheese is
roughly the size of two dice.
Heartburn and Alcohol
Wine, beer, or your favorite cocktail can all trigger heartburn, says
Chutkan, especially when they are imbibed with a large meal. "If you have a
meal of steak, creamed spinach, and lobster bisque and then alcohol on top of
that," she says, "you may be in for it."
Taub-Dix agrees. "A glass of red wine may not be a big deal on its own," she
points out. "But if you also have tomato sauce on your pasta and a glass of
orange juice in the morning on an empty stomach, it could be a problem." Like
peppermint, alcohol opens the sphincter, allowing the acid free range.
Heartburn and Caffeine
Coffee, soda, tea, iced tea, and any other food or beverages that contain
caffeine are big offenders. But java junkies don't have to give up their Joe
forever, Chutkan tells WebMD. "It's not 'no coffee ever' if you have heartburn.
It's about cutting down and paying attention to portion sizes. A Starbucks
tall," she explains, "which is their version of a small, is like three cups of
coffee. Some people tell me they drink two cups of coffee a day and that they
get it at Starbucks. That's like six cups a day."
If you have heartburn, you can likely consume a 3- or 4-ounce cup of coffee
each morning with no problem. But if you guzzle coffee all day long, then, yes,
heartburn is a consequence.