Fruits That Might Trigger Your Heartburn

Heartburn is no picnic. Medication ads make it seem like a mild discomfort that you can distract yourself from with a little rub and a sip of milk. And while those can help, people with heartburn know that the feeling goes much deeper than that. It's a burn from your chest to your stomach — and if your stomach isn't churning at the same time, then you're lucky.

This is because heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, an issue that starts much lower than your chest. It starts in your stomach, or, more specifically, where your esophagus empties into your stomach (according to Mayo Clinic). A band of muscle keeps the two separate, closing off the connection point. Acid reflux develops when that muscle is weak or opens randomly instead of just when a person is swallowing. This lets stomach acid into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other nasty side effects.

Thankfully heartburn usually only sets in when it's set off by a few triggers. An empty stomach — or an incredibly full one — can do it. So can spicy foods, soda, coffee, and oily foods like dairy or fried dishes (via Johns Hopkins). And, for the most part, these are easy to avoid. This is especially true when you're trying to create healthier eating habits, which most doctors encourage as a way to combat acid reflux.

However, not every healthy food will help reduce heartburn. Most vegetables are fine, as are watery fruits like melon. But other fruits can actually make heartburn worse.

Avoid anything acidic

When you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, or its more aggressive cousin GERD, you quickly learn the difference between "base" foods and "acidic" foods. Just like in chemistry class, a base can neutralize an acid. And when it comes to acid reflux, that's more or less the goal. You want to eat foods that won't work up your stomach acid or that can help dilute it so it doesn't do as much damage when it makes it to your esophagus.

Johns Hopkins recommends foods that are high in fiber since it neutralizes acid. This includes most fruits — the keyword being most. When you're suffering from heartburn, the last thing you want to reach for is citrus or berries. Eat This, Not That! has an excellent list of foods that can trigger heartburn, and it goes into detail on why certain fruits are bad.

They interviewed Dr. Chowdhurry, a digestive specialist that works for Johns Hopkins. Berries, she says, produce quite a lot of acid. This is in part due to their sugar content, which is why they're not ideal whether they're fresh or not. Fruit like kiwi, oranges, and pomegranates are also high in sugar, with the added downside of citric acid.

If your acid reflux is acting up and you're craving a fruit bowl, stick to melon or papaya. And make sure you eat a couple of hours before bed so your body has time to digest before you lie down, just for an added bit of insurance.