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What foods are the worst triggers for acid reflux?

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

If you experience acid reflux (heartburn), keep a journal of the foods you eat that cause the problem. You may find that these common trigger foods make the list:

  • Spicy foods like hot sauce or food with hot peppers as in Thai and other spicy cuisines
  • Orange juice
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based dishes
  • Garlic and onions
  • Fried foods, juicy hamburgers and full-fat cheese 
  • Chocolate
  • Mint
  • Caffeine and caffeinated beverages including coffee, tea and soda
  • Alcohol

While these foods alone may trigger acid reflux, too much of any food can lead to it. If you are already prone to acid reflux, eat smaller meals and don’t lie down too soon after a meal. Give yourself at least 3 hours after a meal before going to bed to avoid a flare up.

Here are the top 10 triggers for acid reflux. This is not a complete list, for sure. Avoid the foods that you know are going to cause you problems!

  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits
  • onions
  • carbonated drinks
  • alcohol
  • spicy foods
  • fried foods
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • peppermint
Dr. Jonathan E. Aviv, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT Specialist)

The worst foods for acid reflux include caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, mint, fried food, garlic, vinegar and some vegetables. In this video, otolaryngologist Jonathan Aviv, MD, explains why these foods trigger acid reflux or throatburn symptoms.

These foods are considered common triggers of acid reflux:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Coffee (including decaf)
  • Soda
  • Alcohol, particularly wine
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based foods, including pizza
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Citrus fruits and juices

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.