Dates are unlikely to trigger heartburn because they are relatively low in acid and fat. This means that date fruits are potentially safe for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in other words, chronic acid reflux.
Besides being safe for people with GERD, dates may even help to manage acid reflux symptoms with their high fibre content.
This article explains in detail why dates are potentially safe and beneficial for people who are prone to acid reflux.
Acid Reflux & Diet
When it comes to acid reflux disease, choosing the right kinds of foods can be tricky. This is because even foods that are touted as “healthy” can aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
For instance, tomatoes, oranges and lemons can trigger heartburn because they are highly acidic. Or, walnuts and avocados may induce heartburn (when eaten in excess) in susceptible individuals due to their high-fat content.
That is to say, a healthy diet that includes all fruits, vegetables and nuts may not be completely suitable for a person with chronic acid reflux (GERD).
Therefore, individuals with GERD should know what type of foods to avoid — or at least limit — and what type of foods to eat more in their diets to deal with this digestive condition effectively.
Dr Ekta Gupta — a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine — advises acid reflux patients to limit the intake of foods that are high in acid and fat. She also encourages affected individuals to consume high-fibre and watery foods to prevent heartburn.
As mentioned above, dates are very low in acid and fat. Furthermore, they contain a substantial amount of fibre.
Dates & Acid Reflux
We shouldn’t forget that everyone is different and therefore tends to respond differently to the same food. Plus, no study has looked at the effects of date fruits on acid reflux.
However, considering their nutrient profile, dates appear to be safe and potentially beneficial for most people with acid reflux.
In the rest of the article, we explain why low-fat and low-acid foods are considered safe for people with acid reflux. Plus, we’ll touch on why fibre-rich foods are a good choice for GERD patients.
This will tell us why people with GERD shouldn’t worry about adding dates to their diets.
Dates Are Low in Acid
Research says consuming highly acidic foods can increase the acidity of the stomach, thus raising the risk of heartburn.
Besides, according to the American College of Gastroenterology, the consumption of highly acidic foods may irritate the damaged lining of the esophagus (the food pipe) in people with GERD.
For these reasons, acid reflux patients are usually advised to avoid or limit the intake of foods high in acid.
Note: The pH scale shows the degree of acidity or alkalinity of substances. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Foods with a pH lower than 7 are acidic whereas those with a pH higher than 7 are alkaline or basic. The lower the pH, the more acidic the food is, and vice versa.
For instance; lemons, grapefruit, and kiwifruit tend to be classified as high-acid fruits with pH values of around 2, 3 and 3.5 respectively.
Dates have a pH level of around 6, which makes them mildly acidic. In other words, date fruits are low in acid.
At this point, it is important to note that low-acid fruits (although they fall on the acidic side on the pH scale) are considered potentially safe for people with GERD.
In addition to being low in acid, dates contain calcium and potassium, which may aid in neutralizing stomach acid.
Dates are Naturally Low in Fat
Fat takes longer to digest compared to other macro-nutrients. This delays stomach emptying and causes the stomach to produce more acid, raising the risk of heartburn.
Plus, the consumption of fatty foods may relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, which prevents stomach acid from moving upwards.
Fried foods, full-fat dairy products, or fatty meat can all aggravate acid reflux symptoms. However, what might be surprising is that even foods that contain mostly healthy fats, such as walnuts and avocados may trigger heartburn if eaten in excess.
Briefly stated, high dietary fat intake (particularly, unhealthy types of fats) can bring about acid reflux symptoms or worsen the symptoms.
Since dates are very low in fat, they are unlikely to trigger heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux.
Fibre-Rich Dates May Improve Acid Reflux Symptoms
Date fruits are a rich source of dietary fibre. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, 100 gr of dates provide around 7 gr of fibre.
Studies and health experts note that dietary fibre is important in the management of GERD.
For instance, a recent study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that a fibre-enriched diet may lower the number of acid reflux episodes and decrease heartburn frequency.
According to Doctor Deborah Lee (MD), acid reflux patients are likely to benefit from increasing the fibre content of their diet.
As for how fibre can help with acid reflux, it appears that dietary fibre can:
- help neutralise strong stomach acid
- improve esophagal function
- reduce the concentration of gastric nitrites
Furthermore, dietary fibre can provide the feeling of fullness. This makes overeating — which is strongly correlated with heartburn — less likely.
As mentioned above, dates are a really good source of fibre, suggesting that they can help improve acid reflux symptoms and constipation.
How to Consume Dates to Combat Heartburn
Consuming any type of food or drink in excess — regardless of how healthy it is — increases the risk of heartburn, especially in susceptible individuals. So consume dates in moderation.
As for the ideal time to eat dates, it might be logical to eat them as an after-dinner snack. With their high fibre content, they can provide a feeling of fullness, preventing you from munching on something that can induce heartburn, such as pizza or ice cream.
It is also important to note that dates are high in sugar with a sugar content of 4.5 grams per date. Excess sugar can also trigger acid reflux so be mindful of the number of dates you are consuming daily.
Note: If you have diabetes, work with your dietitian or physician about your diet.
Other Foods to Add to Your Acid Reflux Diet
Generally speaking, high-fibre, low-fat and alkaline foods (or low-acid foods) are recommended for those who are prone to heartburn. Creating a diet accordingly may help with the symptoms.
In addition to dates, we also wrote about the effects of carrot juice, dragon fruit, ginger and almonds on acid reflux symptoms.
If you want to learn how they may help with heartburn, you can click the links below and read the articles.
- Almonds and acid reflux
- Is Ginger good for acid reflux?
- Carrot Juice and Heartburn
- Is Dragon fruit good for acid reflux?
- If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may want to avoid dates as they are high in fructose.
- Dates contain high amounts of sorbitol, which is known to increase bowel movements. If you are experiencing diarrhoea, consider avoiding dates until your BM’s gets normalised.