There are a lot of foods that can trigger heartburn. Some of them you probably already know – but others may come as a surprise. Let’s take a quick look at the causes and symptoms of chronic heartburn, as well as some of the foods that cause heartburn.

By eliminating these foods from your diet, you may experience fewer symptoms.

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is very common – in fact, millions of Americans experience symptoms every day. It can lead to pain in the lower part of the chest and leave an acidic taste in your mouth and throat. Many people experience symptoms after eating large meals.

You may have a burning sensation in your stomach due to heartburn.

One reason is a muscle known as the esophageal sphincter. It’s located between the end of the esophageal tube and the stomach.

The esophageal sphincter should close after eating – but if it doesn’t, gastric acid can enter the esophageal tube.

When that happens, you’ll likely experience reflux symptoms. These symptoms include a burning feeling in the throat and trouble swallowing. In some cases, symptoms can include coughing and hoarseness.1

foods that cause heartburn | Westwood WellnessFoods to Avoid

Here are some of the foods that cause heartburn. Cutting them from your diet could help reduce your symptoms – and make your stomach happier as a result.


If onions are a staple of your diet, this is going to come as bad news. Onions contain a type of fiber known as fructooligosaccharides. This fiber is known to relax the esophageal sphincter, allowing gastric acid to enter the esophageal tube.2

In one study, researchers examined two groups of people – one ate hamburgers with onions, the other ate burgers without onions. Those who had onions on their burgers had more severe heartburn symptoms than those who didn’t.3

Highly-Salted Foods

Who doesn’t love snacking on potato chips every once in awhile? Well, those chips might be contributing to your stomach discomfort. One study found that people who regularly eat salty snacks actually increase their heartburn risk.

foods that cause heartburn | Westwood WellnessAdding salt to food is one of the most common risk factors for heartburn. It could actually increase your risk of developing stomach discomfort by as much as 70 percent.4

Fatty Foods

Do fatty foods make up a large portion of your diet? That doesn’t just increase the girth of your stomach, it could also lead to symptoms of heartburn. Fat stimulates the production of cholecystokinin, a hormone that relaxes the esophageal sphincter and can lead to heartburn.5

Dairy Products

Milk might seem harmless – but if you’re prone to heartburn, eating or drinking milk can wreak havoc on your stomach and lead to heartburn symptoms.6 Low-fat dairy products, on the other hand, appear to reduce the chances of suffering symptoms – so try eating fewer dairy products if you experience heartburn.7

Carbonated Beverages

Many of us grew up drinking carbonated beverages – like soda and other fizzy drinks – on a regular basis. If you suffer from stomach discomfort and heartburn, this might be one of the reasons why. One study reported that people who drank sodas experienced more heartburn symptoms while sleeping than people who didn’t drink soda.8

foods that cause heartburn | Westwood Wellness

Tomato-Based Foods

Pizza and other tomato-based products are notorious for their link to heartburn. These foods can really make the gastric acid in your stomach churn. Avoiding tomatoes entirely could help you either reduce or avoid symptoms.9

Citrus Juices

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamins and antioxidants – but unfortunately for heartburn sufferers, citrus juice can be bad news. Grapefruit juice is especially acidic, leading to worse symptoms than other juices.10

Find What Works Best for You

Eating certain foods can lead to heartburn – but don’t make any dietary changes before consulting your doctor. You want to do everything you can to reduce or prevent heartburn symptoms, so be sure to speak with your doctor to determine what’s best for you.

Learn More:
Baking Soda for Heartburn: Effectiveness and Precautions
Heartburn at Night – Easy Remedies for You
How Antioxidants Can Keep Your Gut Healthy