The Truth Behind Broccoli and Heartburn

Broccoli and heartburn

Many of us struggled with broccoli at different stages of our lives.

As kids, we were forced to accept the healthy green because of  our parents. Later, as healthy adults, we responsibly incorporate it into our diets—perhaps because we actually enjoy it now, or maybe because it’s a convenient and effective source of multiple nutrients.

That’s when a new broccoli “issue” kicks in: heartburn.

As we age, our body’s relationship to certain foods can change—even with the healthy items. The body and digestive system can sometimes struggle to process them, and that causes digestion problems

That’s why people who are prone to heartburn—also known as acid reflux—may find that broccoli triggers their discomfort.

Despite being a SuperFood, dietitians have linked broccoli and heartburn, as well as to indigestion and other problems related to gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the sphincter of the esophagus is weak.  This allows contents of the stomach—including acidic stomach juices—to flow back up.

Certain foods are harder for the body to digest because they are not easily broken down in the system—leading to indigestion. Unfortunately, broccoli is one of those foods, and for some people it can be a trigger for heartburn.

Because of broccoli’s high fiber and carbohydrate content, it takes longer for the body to digest. Although most fibers actually help digestion, broccoli contains a type of soluble fiber—which, according to dietitian Katherine Brooking does not break down until it reaches the large intestine.

As it is processed by the body, broccoli releases gas. This unsettles the stomach, causes bloating and abdominal discomfort, and can trigger the reflux of stomach juices in people with sensitive systems.

The health benefits of broccoli are indisputable. It is rich in folate, fiber, and calcium—among others nutrients. However, people susceptible to heartburn shouldn’t rely on broccoli as their main source of these nutrients, and should instead look to these foods for similar nutrients:

  • Whole Grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Fresh unprocessed fruits like apples and blueberries
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