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

14 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.

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