Foods That Help Heartburn

If you’ve ever experienced heartburn, it’s likely a sensation you don’t want to happen regularly. 

The good news is there are things you can do to help prevent heartburn from disrupting your day (and night), including making some changes to your diet.

Keep reading to learn about foods that help heartburn and some foods to avoid that can trigger it.

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is the term for a painful burning sensation that occurs in your chest. It can often worsen when you lie down. Heartburn pain isn’t the same as chest pain caused by heart issues, chest infections, etc.

Heartburn occurs when acidic stomach acid enters your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach) from your stomach. 

The opening from your esophagus to your stomach is called the gastroesophageal sphincter, and it usually stays closed to prevent heartburn from happening. 

However, certain things can loosen the esophageal sphincter and allow stomach acid to enter your esophagus, giving the sensation of burning in your chest.

Standard medical terms for heartburn include acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is a common occurrence, with many people experiencing it at least a few times in their lifetime. 

Many people have chronic heartburn, which can require lifestyle modifications and sometimes medications, both over-the-counter and prescription.

If you have GERD, you might experience additional symptoms beyond heartburn, such as indigestion (regurgitation of food or sour liquid in your mouth), difficulty swallowing, or a feeling of a lump in your throat. 

Chronic heartburn or GERD can damage the lining of your esophagus by causing inflammation, narrowing, and bleeding. 

Foods to avoid with heartburn 

High-fat foods

Fatty foods can loosen the esophageal sphincter and cause heartburn. In addition, fatty foods take longer to empty from your stomach, which can prolong the time your stomach is full with higher pressure, which can also cause heartburn.

Some foods to avoid if you have heartburn include:

  • High-fat meats like sausage, bacon, fatty cuts of red meat, etc.
  • Fried/breaded foods
  • Full-fat dairy products like cream, cheese, etc.
  • Fatty snack foods such as chips, pork rinds, buttery popcorn, etc.
  • High-fat desserts made with butter, cream, or lard/shortening 
  • Pizza and other high-fat fast food

Spicy foods

Certain spices and foods that contain them can trigger heartburn in some people. You might want to avoid spices such as: 

  • Cayenne pepper and other hot peppers
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Curry seasoning 

Tomato-based foods

Tomato products can be a trigger for some people with heartburn. Tomatoes are acidic, which may cause your stomach to become even more acidic when you eat tomato products. 

The more acidic your stomach is, the more painful your symptoms will be (the burning sensation is from the acidic stomach contents in your esophagus, which isn’t meant to handle that much acidity).

If you’re experiencing heartburn, you may want to avoid foods containing tomatoes and tomato products like:

  • Spaghetti sauce or pasta sauce
  • Marinara sauce
  • Foods with tomato paste, tomato puree, etc. (some soups use tomatoes as a base, such as chili, vegetable soups, etc.)


Like tomatoes, citrus fruits are acidic and can trigger heartburn in some people. If you’re prone to heartburn, consider avoiding citrus fruits, including:

  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Lemon/lemon juice
  • Limes/lime juice
  • Pineapples


Mint can trigger heartburn, so you may want to avoid mint in the form of candies, teas, lozenges, and other forms. 

You should be especially mindful of edible essential oils from mint, which are even more concentrated than most other forms of mint.


Caffeine can cause your esophageal sphincter to relax and cause heartburn. We can find caffeine in some foods like chocolate, but it is the highest in drinks like coffee, black tea, energy drinks, and caffeinated soda. 


Like caffeine, alcohol loosens your esophageal sphincter and can lead to heartburn symptoms. Even if you don’t normally experience heartburn after eating, drinking alcoholic beverages can trigger heartburn.

Avoid alcoholic drinks such as:

  • Red wine, white wine, and other wines
  • Beer
  • Drinks with hard liquor 

Carbonated drinks

Even if they aren’t caffeinated, the bubbles in carbonated drinks can cause your stomach to expand and create pressure which can lead to heartburn. Other than soda, sparkling water is another common carbonated drink you might want to steer clear of if you have heartburn.

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Foods that help heartburn

Now that we’ve covered several potential heartburn triggers, let’s look at some foods to eat if you have heartburn.

Lean protein

Since fatty meats can be a trigger for heartburn, try to fill up on low-fat (lean) protein including:

  • Skinless poultry (the skin contains a lot of fat, so be sure to remove it)
  • Lean cuts of red meat
  • Baked, steamed, or broiled white fish (tilapia, cod, tuna, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Beans, lentils, etc.
  • Low-fat dairy

Healthy fats

Fat can trigger heartburn, but it’s important to include some healthy fat in your diet to meet your nutrient needs. 

Healthy fats can reduce inflammation thanks to their omega-3 content, which can help heal an esophagus that has become inflamed from heartburn.

If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you should start with small portions of healthy fats to assess how it affects you.

Some healthy fats to eat that might help heartburn include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocadoes
  • Vegetable oils (olive oil, canola oil, etc.)

Whole grains

The fiber in whole grains might help absorb extra stomach acid and help with heartburn. Fiber-rich foods can make for a more filling meal while eating less (compared to refined grains), which can help you reduce the pressure in your stomach from potentially over-eating.

Some whole grains to consider adding to your heartburn diet:

  • Whole wheat bread, pasta, bagels, etc.
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Couscous

Root vegetables

Root vegetables tend to be lower in acid and rich in fiber, helping to keep you feeling full. Some root vegetables to add to your plate if you have heartburn include:

  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Beets

Natural and herbal remedies

Some herbs have anti-inflammatory properties and can promote digestive health, including helping with heartburn.

Some potentially beneficial herbal remedies for heartburn include:

  • Chamomile tea
  • Ginger 
  • Licorice
  • Catnip
  • Fennel
  • Marshmallow root 
  • Papaya tea

In addition, aloe vera may be a helpful natural heartburn remedy, according to a study.

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Other possible heartburn triggers

In addition to the foods to avoid with heartburn, other potential heartburn triggers can include:

Lying down after eating/eating large meals before bed

If you go to bed after eating a large meal, gravity will encourage the contents of your full stomach to move toward your head and cause heartburn. 

To prevent heartburn, avoid eating your largest meal before bed, or at least allow yourself several hours between your last meal and bedtime.

You might also find that elevating the head of your bed helps to prevent heartburn when you’re lying down.


Many pregnant women suffer from heartburn caused by the growing baby’s increasing pressure in the stomach. Hormonal changes during pregnancy might also exacerbate heartburn.

Wearing too-tight clothing

Increased pressure in your stomach can cause reflux and heartburn. If you’re wearing tight clothing, especially around your waist or midsection, you might experience heartburn more than if you wear loose-fitting clothing, especially at mealtimes.


Smoking loosens the gastroesophageal sphincter, the muscle that closes the opening of your esophagus off from your stomach. This allows acidic stomach acid to wash up into the esophagus and cause heartburn.

Certain medications

Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are associated with increased heartburn symptoms, according to a study.


Heartburn is the burning sensation that occurs from stomach acid entering your esophagus. It can be triggered by certain foods, as well as increased pressure in your stomach which can push the contents into your esophagus.

You may want to avoid high-fat foods, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, mint, carbonated drinks, and certain acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits. Not everyone will have the same heartburn triggers, so you can customize this individually.

Foods that may help heartburn include lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, root vegetables, and certain herbal remedies.

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  1. Panahi Y, Khedmat H, Valizadegan G, Mohtashami R, Sahebkar A. Efficacy and safety of Aloe vera syrup for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a pilot randomized positive-controlled trial. J Tradit Chin Med. 2015.
  2. Ruszniewski P, Soufflet C, Barthélémy P. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use as a risk factor for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: an observational study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008.

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