bananas can cause heartburn, gerd

I recently made the difficult decision to give up bananas.

I love bananas. They just have so much going for them. They taste delicious, they’re excellent nutritionally, and they’re convenient since there’s no preparation involved. They’re the perfect snack fruit.

Unfortunately for me, they also exacerbate my GERD. I’ve known this for some time, but I continued to eat bananas for the aforementioned reasons. I commonly would eat them as an afternoon snack, but they all too often sent me reaching for the antacids.

Since I’ve decided to do everything I can to reduce my GERD, I decided the bananas had to go. There has been such a marked improvement since giving them up that I feel compelled to share my findings. It has made a surprisingly big difference.

There are many websites out there that actually recommend bananas as a way of calming an upset stomach. Here’s a quote from “Bananas are among the healthiest foods for your body and are recommended by most health care professionals as a safe, natural remedy for heartburn. In rare cases, however, bananas can have the opposite effect and cause heartburn shortly after consumption.”

I don’t think the cases of bananas causing heartburn are all that rare. In another article, in which bananas are recommended to pregnant women as a way of reducing heartburn, the comments run about 10:1 from people saying bananas actually cause heartburn for them.

So why do bananas cause heartburn? I have two theories. Bananas do contain quite a bit of citric acid, which I know gives me heartburn. According to ESHA Research, bananas contain 319 mg of citric acid per 118 g banana, or about a quarter that of an orange. I do know that citric acid causes me severe heartburn in sufficient quantities, so that might be the problem right there. (They also contain about 420 mg of malic acid, but that’s not a problem for me.) A second possibility is that bananas contain proteins similar to those in latex, proteins which are known to cause allergies in some people. I seem to be okay with latex, though.

(By the way, sources for the amount of citric acid in a banana vary widely. Another sources lists 150 mg / 100 g and yet another gives around 400 mg / 100 g. There are many, many websites that claim there is no citric acid in bananas. They’re just plain wrong.)

All I know for sure is that bananas do give me heartburn and giving them up has led to a significant improvement in my overall symptoms.

For now my afternoon snack is crackers. I hope to find a replacement fruit one of these days. I guess a big part of the problem is that bananas are so convenient. It seems that other fruits I like, such as kiwi and cantaloupe, require preparation time. They can also be difficult to determine ripeness of. They contain citric acid as well, so I’ll have to look into how much. Maybe I’ll get desperate and start eating apples. They’re convenient, but I just don’t like them.

UPDATE: For more on GERD, see my newer article: How to Cure GERD


45 thoughts on “bananas can cause heartburn, gerd

  1. I, too get heartburn after eating bananas. I do not get heartburn after eating spicy foods or acidic fruit. I seldom eat deep fried foods, but do get heartburn when I eat fries.

    • I too can enjoy spicy foods without getting heartburn, and I’m very thankful for that, as I love spicy foods. Fried foods do seem to be a problem for me also, but not too bad. Anything fatty seems to be a problem.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I have been a vegan for 7 years now and recently switched to a raw food diet. I’ve also had a huge amount of mucous after eating certain foods, having to clear my throat constantly but with no heartburn. I have recently self diagnosed my self with Silent reflux as I have all the symptoms. Interestingly enough, even with my healthy diet, I have the worst symptoms with bananas; even the ripest of bananas. I’m not sure why, since I eat lots of fruit and I don’t seem to have problems with the citric acid in other fruits; maybe it’s the latex type similarity.

  3. Symptoms of indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy are the same as for anyone else with the condition. The main symptom is pain or a feeling of discomfort in your chest or stomach. This usually happens soon after eating or drinking, but there can sometimes be a delay between eating a meal and developing indigestion.

    Dr. Maureen Muoneke MD

  4. I believe it’s the potassium in bananas causing the heartburn. I too have this issue. I also get heartburn from sports drinks that contain potassium.

  5. I can attest to this. I tried this 2 days in a row and both days bananas gave me a stabbing pain as if it were my heart. Took an antacid and it went away. Stopped eating them and tried one again weeks later…same thing. I didnt know they had citric acid in them and was wondering what the connection was. 1 more thing to avoid among everything else…

  6. Sugar. Bananas are rich in sugar, as are sports drinks. Both give me heartburn almost immediately after consuming. When I eat a low sugar diet my heartburn, which used to be chronic and severe, is less frequent and less severe.

    Unfortunately, alcohol also triggers heartburn. It doesn’t cause it by itself, but i am much more susceptible after drinking.

  7. Very interesting. I’ve had to cut out pretty much all fruit because it either causes intestinal distress or it causes my GERD to flair. Bananas were my only option left but recently, over the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that if I add a banana to my breakfast, my GERD flairs within an hour. Looking at all the other comments, it’s probably the sugar, citric acid, or both. I guess I should have connected it all but was just so glad that I could eat one fruit that I ignored it. *Sigh*

  8. Thank you! I have the same feelings about my love for bananas. However, about 20 minutes after consuming I get heartburn every time. I think I should join the club and say goodbye to the banana. I have gerd but nothing reacts as quickly as the banana.

  9. No more bananas for me. I’ve been eating carefully and thoughtfully because of chronic heartburn – I started taking probiotics (they are suppose to balance out the good and bad bacteria in the stomach) with limited success (but it’s only been a couple of weeks so I will withhold judgement just yet). Sugar is a killer, bananas are the absolute worst though. From now on I’ll only eat them in the form of banana bread!! I heard a lack of calcium and magnesium can also cause heartburn, so I’m taking it too. All in all, if I eat right all the time, my heartburn is under control. Now I just have to eat right – all the time! Not there yet so I keep antacids on hand for those low willpower days.

  10. I too can attest to this. Just like you I have known this for a while but refused to give up on Bananas, but sadly I think the time has come. It would be nice if health care professionals knew about bananas causing heart burn and gerd and start advising people to stay away from them. People even laugh at me when I tell them bananas give me heart burn because everybody believes they are so healthy. I also noticed the eating bread or dried biscuits gives me severe heart burn too.

  11. I have the same problem with bananas. After some research for a natural remedy, I found claims that raw apple will take care of the Gerd. I tried it and couldn’t believe it! The apples worked, so now I can again enjoy the bananas that I so love to eat! Give it a try!

  12. Do try different varieties of apples. I love Gala, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady. It may also help if you peel them first. My roommate makes juices with them for sweetening. No problems with GERD even at nighttime. She made them with banana today and instant flare. Ouch.

  13. Thanks for your article. I also end up with severe heartburn after eating bananas & was confused about why this happened every time I consumed one as I too love bananas and it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve noticed that they upset my stomach .

  14. Same here. Oranges and tomatoes don’t give me heartburn, but bananas do. I am not sure who can call them healthy as they contain 30 grams of sugar on top of heartburn.

  15. Thank you, thank you, I starting realizing 3-4 years ago I just can’t eat bananas. Intense heartburn, like maybe I’m having a heart attack it hurts so bad! I started having legs cramps recently from asthma meds and a good friend insisted I eat bananas to get the potassium up. They insisted bananas could not be the cause of heartburn I described and showed me several WebMD articles about how bananas cure muscle cramps. Ok, ok…..I ate 2 bananas yesterday… real problem….and one this morning. This morning’s banana was evil! And I’m in terrible pain, tums and rolaids are doing nothing. Glad you can’t die from over dose of water, that’s the only relief today. Glad to know I’m not alone with’ can’t eat bananas’ syndrome.

    • Steve, I am the same way, i have a feeling that to me feels like I am having a heart attack (it is soooo bad that that HAS to be how a heart attack feels)…and I take omeprazole daily and bananas just tear me apart, adding tums or whatever does NOTHING….swallowing liquid makes the pain even worse for me. I have also found that I have the same exact reaction to tuna. Both didn’t start until after I had my 2nd child.

      • As Nancy Reagan suggested “Just say NO”!😉
        Only people that have had these experiences can related to how painful eating a banana can be.
        Glad I found out I’m not alone.
        Happy New Year, Steve

  16. Must be the case for myself as well. I agree that the culprit is high citric acid levels. However I have always wondered if it is true that bananas are gassed after picked green; if that’s the case perhaps that is a contributing factor? Oranges don’t give me heartburn.

  17. Could it be the potassium? Citric acid and sugar don’t bother me. I’m not a big fruit eater but I was out on the golf course one day and stopped to pick up a banana because it was early and I hadn’t eaten. About an hour later, I thought I was going to die from the heartburn. The only other thing they had was water which seemed to make the whole situation worse. It didn’t go away until I ate something substantial to absorb the acid. Since then, I can’t eat a whole banana without heartburn.

  18. Until I found this blog I thought I was crazy to be getting gerd symptoms after eating bananas. Since misery loves company, I thank all you bloggers who have confirmed that bananas can indeed give one heartburn.

  19. I found your article because i was curious if I was the only one – funny that most searches turn up bananas as a cure for heartburn. Besides red wine, they are the single most consistent heartburn producer for me – including junk food, chips, chili, etc. It’s not as severe of a heartburn as with red wine – where it causes me to wince every time I burp – but it’s extremely consistent – like every time I eat a banana I get mild to moderate heartburn.

  20. Yes that is true banana can cause reverse effect on some individuals. I am suffering from intestine ulcer so tried eating bananas to sooth down my system but I experienced acidity – almost constant pain just under ribs.

  21. I completely identify with Diana’s comment above, too. I have IBS-D and an esophagus that won’t tolerate anything but soft bland food (oatmeal, white rice, plain yogurt, bread, soft pasta, and a few ultra-steamed plain veggies occasionally.) If I try to eat any kind of fruit, even applesauce, my throat is raw for a couple of days. But it’s fine if I don’t irritate it with anything other than totally plain bland ‘mush’. I tried half a banana yesterday in order to get some potassium and I still feel “raw” 24 hours later. So for me the so-called BRAT (banana/rice/applesauce/toast) approach end up being a CRY diet (chicken/rice/yogurt), lol!

  22. Sources Saying that bananas are helpful for feeling acid reflux may have some merit but they aggravate my GERD terrible.

  23. I have been eating banana with milk for breakfast for as long as I can remember but recently I seem to be having an awful heartburn in the morning at the office after my breakfast. I do not want to stop eating banana with milk for breakfast as all the alternatives are terrible. I do not eat eggs. I definitely do not want to eat cereal as it leaves me hungry in an hour or so. aarrrhg! I don’t know what to do! 😦

  24. I am the same way, I have a feeling that to me feels like I am having a heart attack (it is soooo bad that that HAS to be how a heart attack feels)…and I take omeprazole daily and bananas just tear me apart, adding tums or whatever does NOTHING….swallowing liquid makes the pain even worse for me. I have also found that I have the same exact reaction to tuna. Both didn’t start until after I had my 2nd child.

  25. I take a sip of apple cider vinegar after I eat a banana every day as of recent. It instantly calms my stomach down. Like 0-60 in 5 seconds quick. I get a spot right at my diaphragm that burns every time I eat one. I recently discovered the apple cider vinegar trick after a little research. I don’t mind the flavor and I don’t have to take a vastly more expensive medication to curb it. The cider vinegar is also supposed to help with diet. Drink a little before meals that might flare up the reflux as well. I definitely feel better and can now better enjoy the bananas that I eat every single day. May not work in more extreme cases, but before it really starts your reflux I have found it useful, personally. Worth experimenting with to see how it works for others.

  26. I was having heartburn and wasnt sure why. I was unable to have bananas for a short time and heartburn cleared up. When i was able to eat bananas again i was upset when my heartburn started again. I even tried to make different things with the bananas to “lighten” the effects and still the heartburn is there as long as it is anything having bananas in it. I do not have GERD and bananas are the only thing that affects me like that

  27. Thank you for your article. Try eating Bananas when they get very mature and not before. Not brown mature but just before the start going brown. At their peak of yellowness in other words;) i found i have less gerd when i do that


  28. Life is one dynamic adventure and so are circumstances of everyday life – even circumstances that create enmity between best of friends.
    Of all fruits, ripe bananas have been dear to my heart – I mean, my stomach; and this love for bananas has been for years.
    Unfortunately though, recently arising heartburns are severing ties with this favorite, nutritious food. Yes, sadly so – ripe bananas are now causing me heartburns.

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