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Do Bananas Cause Heartburn?

a woman eating a yellow banana

A lot of people try to figure out which foods are better to consume when it comes to frequent heartburn. Bananas, the world’s most popular fruit, comes up in that conversation. But what can you do if one of your favorite foods might give you heartburn?

Keep reading to find out the causes of heartburn, whether bananas help or worsen heartburn symptoms, and how you can relieve your frequent heartburn.

What Is Heartburn?

First things first. What are we talking about when we say heartburn? Heartburn is that uncomfortable feeling that occurs when stomach acids flow up your esophagus.

When you experience heartburn, you might have a burning feeling in your chest or in your throat. There might also be a sour or acidic taste in your mouth. Heartburn can feel worse when you bend over or lie down.

So, Are Bananas a Heartburn Culprit?

Some people have concerns about whether bananas increase the risk of experiencing heartburn. The consensus is no, bananas have not been found to increase the risk of experiencing heartburn.

But here’s a question for you: How ripe are the bananas you’re eating?

Take a look again at the woman at the top of the page eating a banana. Notice the banana’s uniform bright yellow color? Notice no cute brown speckles?

When is a Banana Ripe?

According to medical scientists1 and banana growers2, that Cavendish banana is not at peak ripeness. A fully ripe banana has brown speckles. The

Chiquita Banana jingle from the 1940s states this clearly:

Chiquita banana and I've come to say

Bananas have to ripen in a certain way

When they are fleck'd with brown and have a golden hue

Bananas taste the best and are best for you

That’s not just a catchy tune, it’s also good advice because the banana’s ripeness affects how your body digests it.

Banana Ripeness and Resistant Starch

It’s connected to the fruit’s levels of something called “resistant starch,” which change as the banana ripens. Unripe green bananas have a lot of resistant starch. The human stomach and small intestines have difficulty digesting this type of starch.

As the bananas ripen, the starch breaks down into sugars, so the banana becomes softer and sweeter. The skin gets thinner, too. (Fun fact: Ripening bananas glow blue under UV lights!3)

With less starch and more sugar, ripe bananas are easier for people to digest.

The Banana, A Health Hero

All this doesn’t mean don’t eat yellow bananas if they appeal (sorry, couldn’t resist) to you—or even ones with a bit of green at the ends. But if you experience some stomach upset after eating a banana, its level of ripeness might be a factor.

Just try eating bananas at different stages of ripeness and observe how you feel.

In any case, rest assured that bananas—from barely ripe to very ripe—have great health benefits. Bananas are a great source of these important nutrients:4

  • Potassium
  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C

Nutrients found in bananas help regulate blood pressure and better control the heart’s activity. Even the banana peel can be put to good use to soothe a mosquito bite.

Ripe Bananas and pH Levels

Here’s another surprise: bananas have properties that can help relieve symptoms of heartburn! It has to do with the fruit’s rating on the pH scale, which can measure how acidic a food is. The higher the pH level, the less acidity a food has.

Ripe bananas are only mildly acidic; they have an approximate pH level of 5 to 5.3.5  Eating a banana when it’s ripe—and has a higher pH level—can help offset stomach acid.6

Foods and Drinks that Can Cause Heartburn

If bananas aren’t a common cause of heartburn, what foods are? These foods and drinks may increase your risk of experiencing heartburn:7

  • Spicy foods
  • Onions
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fried foods
  • Tomato products
  • Foods with high fat contents
  • Eating too much food at once
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Caffeinated drinks

If you limit how much you consume these foods and drinks, you may decrease your chances of experiencing heartburn.

Ways to Relieve Heartburn

There are other things you can do to help lessen your heartburn symptoms7—even if you’re not the biggest fan of bananas:

  • Avoid
    • wearing tight clothes. Wearing tight clothes can put pressure on the lower part of your esophagus.
    • lying down or going to sleep immediately after you eat. Wait at least two or three hours after eating before you lie down. You should also avoid eating right before your bedtime.
    • moking. Smoking can make it harder for the lower part of your esophagus to properly relax and tighten.
    • drinking alcohol. Alcohol can also affect how well the lower part of your esophagus performs its duties.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Excess fat can add pressure to your stomach and push acid up your esophagus.
  • Take antacids. Antacids can help offset occasion heartburn (that’s heartburn that occurs less than two times a week). We like TUMs, of course!

Nexium 24HR, available as ClearMinis, Tablets or Capsules, stops acid at the source and provides the most powerful OTC acid control available. Just one pill a day for 14 days gives you 24-hour protection. Use as directed to treat frequent heartburn. Do not take for more than 14 days or more often than every 4 months unless directed by a doctor. Not for immediate relief.

Explore Nexium 24HR products.

  1. The Banana Again. JAMA. Dec 2017. Originally published Dec 1918. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.10498.
  2. The Chiquita brand Banana Jingle. Who’s Chiquita Brand, slide 6.Chiquita. and
  3. Simone Moser, Thomas Müller, and Marc-Olivier Ebert.  Blue Luminescence of Ripening Bananas. doi: 10.1002/anie.200803189.
  4. Bananas. T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University.
  5. Approximate pH of Foods and Food products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  6. Ekta Gupta, M.B.B.S., M.D., reviewed by. GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn). Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  7. Heartburn. Mayo Clinic.
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