Foods That Make Heartburn Worse

One way to minimize heartburn is to alter your diet. Unsurprisingly, this means healthier eating. Sugars, chocolates, and citrus products are bad for heartburn, and as a rule, fatty foods, by stimulating the over-production of stomach acid, are more likely to lead to heartburn. Additionally, foods cooked and fried in oils and butters tend to linger in the stomach and cause digestive problems. By roasting, baking, broiling, and/or steaming, you can retain a food's flavor as well as decrease the amount of fat.

According to the National Heartburn Alliance, the key to figuring out what does and doesn't work for you is to identify "trigger foods"-ones that irritate the lining of the stomach or relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which allows stomach acid to build up and burn delicate tissues of the esophagus. To avoid exacerbating your heartburn, here are some rules to live by:

Nothing tomato-based

This involves preparing pasta dishes with a lighter, brothy sauce, and, for added flavor, using herbs such as basil and tarragon.

No cooking-oil sprays

Instead, use dark oils. Because these pack a lot of flavor, you use less of them. This means no more Pam®.

Buy cider and rice vinegars

These are less acidic-and have greater flavor-than regular vinegar.

Go easy on the potatoes

Regardless of form-mashed, baked, or as French fries-these are high in starch and fat.

Watch what you drink

Specifically, do your best to avoid wine, liquor, coffee, and tea. And remember that even decaffeinated drinks are acidic. Also, be aware that, for many people, any carbonated beverage results in belching, which can lead to heartburn because of the regurgitation that comes up in the esophagus.

Cool it with the chocolate

This is a common trigger food because it contains theobromine, which relaxes the LES.

Stick with spices

Dried/dehydrated forms of onion and garlic will decrease your chance of heartburn compared with them in their fresh form. However, some spices are generally irritating to the gastric lining. They include, but are not limited to, black pepper, chili powder, curry powder, mint, cloves, and nutmeg.

Finally, keep in mind that some of your favorite food and drink companies (Tropicana, Folgers, Whole Foods) offer low-acidic, "stomach-friendly" products for those who suffer from heartburn.