Avocados and Acid Reflux: Can Avocados Trigger Heartburn?

avocados may trigger heartburn

If you searched for the health benefits of avocados on the internet, you would see many articles most of which are evidence-based. And, it is not in vain.

Science supports many claimed benefits of avocados which contain a variety of essential nutrients and healthy fats ( 1, 2, 3, 4 ).

While avocados have many health benefits for the human body, there might also be a side effect of avocados that is related to heartburn, the most common symptom of acid reflux.

The claim is that eating avocados can trigger heartburn!

Is it really possible that avocados  – which offer a plethora of health benefits – can also lead to heartburn?

The Immediate Answer

The answer is yes – avocados may give you heartburn, especially if you eat too much in one sitting.

It is, however, important to indicate that if you are a healthy person who normally doesn’t experience heartburn, then you don’t need to worry because eating avocados will not cause you to develop acid reflux disease

So, we should say avocados can induce heartburn in those who are prone to it.

 

Are Avocados Heartburn Triggers For Everyone?

We came to the conclusion that avocados may trigger heartburn in those who are prone to acid reflux.

Does this mean, everyone who has acid reflux is bound to get heartburn after consuming avocados?

The answer is “NO“. Even if you are susceptible to acid reflux, that doesn’t necessarily mean that avocados will trigger heartburn in you. And, it has a simple explanation!

When it comes to acid reflux disease, everyone has different food triggers.

“The foods that trigger heartburn are different for everyone,“ said Dr Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (5).

 

How to Know Whether Avocados are Heartburn Trigger in You?

If you often feel a burning sensation in your chest after eating avocados, then you should know it is (quite likely) not a coincidence! Avocados might be giving you heartburn.

Though, in most cases, it is not easy to detect the main (food) culprit. This is because most of us generally eat a variety of foods throughout the day.

Other foods or beverages that you consume together with avocados or physical activity you perform after eating avocados might be the real culprit.

For instance, if you usually run or swim approximately 30 minutes after eating avocados, what gives you heartburn may not be avocados, but the strenuous exercise that increases abdominal pressure.

The best way to figure out whether avocados cause reflux in you is to keep a food journal. As experts suggest, keeping a food journal can help individuals find their food triggers (6, 7).

If you almost always experience heartburn upon eating avocados, you may want to consider them a potential heartburn trigger for you.

 

Why are Avocados Associated with Heartburn?

Acidic foods such as lemon, grapefruit and oranges are heavily associated with heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms. And, avocados are slightly acidic.

However, the main reason avocados are linked to heartburn is that they are very high in fat.

Please note that the fat content of avocados mostly consists of healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (8, 9, 10).

At this point, you may want to ask  “How can healthy fats that exist in avocados lead to heartburn ?”.

Below, we will explain in detail why even healthy fats may trigger heartburn. But, what you should know ahead of time is that when it comes to acid reflux, fat is fat whether healthy or not.

C. Prakash Gyawali, a gastroenterology professor at Washington University says: Fat is one of the triggers to make the bottom sphincter in the oesophagus relax and promote a tendency towards reflux,( 11 ).

To be able to comprehend how fat triggers acid reflux, we should know acid reflux disease a bit more in detail.

 

What is Acid Reflux?

People typically define acid reflux as a burning sensation, known as heartburn, in the chest area. Some also describe it as having a bitter taste in their mouth (12).

Acid reflux happens when the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, known as LES – a bundle of muscles located at the low end of the food pipe – relaxes at the wrong time, allowing stomach acid to travel back into the esophagus (12, 13).

Normally, LES stays open for approximately 6 seconds after swallowing, then closes tightly to prevent acid-containing contents of the stomach from moving upwards (14).

However, if you have acid reflux that means your LES often doesn’t close tightly. And, that makes you susceptible to heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms such as coughing, hoarseness, sour taste (15, 16, 17).

Many things – such as stress, smoking, drinking alcohol, certain medications – can relax LES muscle or prevent it from closing properly, thus, increasing the risk of getting heartburn (18, 19, 20, 21).

There are also certain foods known to cause LES to relax, thus, bringing about heartburn.

Avocados are one of the foods that may relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter and cause acid reflux.

The question is, how exactly avocados may weaken LES?

 

How Do Fats in Avocados Trigger Heartburn

We, now, know that fats that are present in avocados are the main reason why they are linked to heartburn.

In this section, we will go into further detail and explain how fat may cause heartburn in those who are prone to acid reflux.

 

1- Fats are Hard to Digest

Above we said since avocados are rich in fats ( although mostly healthy fats ) they may trigger heartburn in those who are prone to it.

The question is ” Why does fat increase heartburn risk? “.

As evident in the subheading, fats are hard to digest. As a matter of fact, digestion of fats in the stomach takes more time than other foods, according to HealthLine (22).

The problem is that the longer the foods sit in the stomach, the more acid the stomach produces to break them down (2324).

So, if you eat avocados – which are high in fat – together with other fatty foods, too much fat would accumulate in your stomach, causing your stomach to produce too much acid in order to break them down. That, unavoidably, increases the risk of heartburn in you if your LES doesn’t close properly.

It was revealed in one review of studies; digestion of calorically dense fat is often required secretion of certain substances (such as bile salts) that may irritate esophageal.

In another study, researchers aimed to discover the impact of removing high fat and fried foods from the diet of those who had reported experiencing heartburn after eating high fat and fried foods.

After two weeks of elimination of the triggering foods ( including fatty foods ) from their diet, the proportion of those who suffered from heartburn decreased from 93% to 44%.

Please note that the study was not specifically about avocados, it was about high-fat foods, fried foods and other potential heartburn triggering foods.

 

2- Fats Stimulate The Release of Cholecystokinin (CCK) Hormone

Understandably, cholecystokinin may sound quite unfamiliar to most people. Shortly, it is a hormone in the bloodstream ( 25, 26 ).

This hormone is secreted by the upper small intestine into the bloodstream following the ingestion of protein and fat ( 27, 28, 29 ).

The thing is that according to studies cholecystokinin (CCK) hormone may relax Lower Eesophagal Sphincter (LES) ( 30, 31, 32 )

As we discussed in detail above, Lower Eesophagal Sphincter (LES) is a bundle of muscles that prevents stomach content from moving up.

When it relaxes at the wrong time, stomach acid can escape upward, causing a burning sensation in the chest. 

 

What to Do If Avacados Give Your Heartburn?

Avocados are healthy fruits ( berries ) that can contribute to your health when eaten regularly and in moderation. Yet, avocados might be also giving you heartburn due to their high-fat content.

If this is the case, you might be wondering what to do? Should you eliminate avocados as they trigger heartburn in you?

Giving up eating avocados might be difficult for you especially if they are an inseparable part of your diet. The good news is that you may not need to stop eating these nutritious fruits.

There might be some ways to minimise the risk of getting avocado-induced heartburn.

Below, you will see some tips that may help avoid avocado-induced acid reflux.

 

Ways to Consume Avocados Without Heartburn

Here are some tips to consume avocados without getting heartburn.

  • If you usually consume avocados together with other fatty and acid-reflux causing foods, consider eating avocados alone.
  • If you eat more than 1 avocado at one sitting, lower the amount. This, in turn, can lower the amount of fat you ingest, hence, lowers the risk of heartburn.
  • Take a walk after eating avocados. This is because walking after eating may prevent acid reflux as it improves digestion.
  • Try not to lie down right after whatever you eat. Standing or sitting can help you avoid heartburn as gravity can keep the stomach content in the stomach.

 

Healthy Foods Can Trigger Heartburn!

It doesn’t have to be pizza or alcohol that gives you heartburn. Foods that are associated with various health benefits, thus, being recommended by medical experts may give you heartburn.

For instance, we all have heard about the health benefits of garlic, onion and tomatoes. They are healthy and consumed throughout the world.  They may, nevertheless, trigger heartburn in those who are susceptible to acid reflux(33, 34).

How about nutritious lemon, oranges, grapefruit? Although these fruits are loaded with essential nutrients particularly vitamin C, they may give you heartburn, because they are acidic (35, 36, 37).

As nuts are high in fat, especially walnuts, they can trigger heartburn in some acid reflux sufferers.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that avocados – which normally offer a variety of health benefits – may cause acid reflux.

Sometimes, foods considered healthy can cause some side effects, like heartburn.

 

Conclusion

To our knowledge, there is no study that shows a direct correlation between avocados and acid reflux. Yet, there are studies that tell us fat can trigger heartburn in acid reflux sufferers and avocados are high in fats. So, they may give you heartburn, especially if eaten too much.

Remember that everyone has different foods triggers. So, avocados containing too much fat doesn’t mean that you will get heartburn following avocado consumption. You may consume avocados with no sign of acid reflux.

Bear in mind, acid reflux is a common problem, affecting many people around the world. The article with the name ” 8 effective ways to prevent acid reflux ” we published on this website may help you.

However, if you experience heartburn more than 2 days a week, for several months, you may have developed GERD.

If this is the case, we strongly recommend you work with your doctor to find the best treatment.

 



 

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