It’s Not Just Spicy Foods: Certain Fruits Can Trigger Heartburn, Too

Getty Images | champja
Getty Images | champja

Sure, fried and fatty foods take a ton of blame when it comes to causing heartburn, but did you know that fruit — a snack you might consider a healthy option — can also be considered a trigger?

According to Dr. Soma Mandal, MD — a board-certified internist and women's health specialist at Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights, NJ — citric fruits like oranges, tomatoes, lemons, pineapples have the potential to trigger heartburn due to their high levels of citric acid. "These types of food can increase stomach acidity and cause more heartburn," Dr. Mandal adds.

But citrus isn't the only plant-based item linked to heartburn.

"Chocolate contains a compound called methylxanthine, which relaxes the muscle in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and allows stomach acidity to rise," Dr. Mandal says. "Similarly, caffeine, mints, garlic/onions causes acid reflux by relaxing the muscle in the LES and causes stomach acidity to rise."

However, it's important to note that heartburn triggers can differ from person to person — citrus fruits or garlic might not bother someone else at all. Dr. Mandal points to spicy foods as another example. So, if you find that a specific food triggers your heartburn, be sure to listen to your body and bring it up to your doctor.

Dr. Mandal also recommends "limiting the amount of foods that can trigger heartburn, particularly if you are prone to developing heartburn after eating certain foods."

Also, be mindful of when you're eating those foods. "Another culprit in causing heartburn is eating too late at night. I recommend eating two to three hours before bedtime, since laying down usually worsens heartburn pain."

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