If you’re prone to heartburn, you know the importance of eating low-acid foods. To do that, you have to know the pH levels and acidity of the foods you eat the most often to avoid acid reflux symptoms.
For example, many people believe that high-fat foods tend to trigger heartburn, including cheese. But is there any truth to it? Does cheese cause heartburn?
Does cheese cause heartburn?
Cheese may very well cause heartburn as it’s high in fat. This macronutrient is much harder for your stomach to digest than the other two, which means that it spends more time in your digestive tract. Because of that, people who tend to get heartburn frequently should limit their consumption of high-fat types of cheese.
On the bright side, cheese contains some important micronutrients that can help you stay healthy. So, if you can tolerate small amounts of this food, it might make for a great addition to your diet.
Is cheese acidic?
Cheese has a wide range of pH levels, depending on the type. For example, cream cheese has the lowest pH level of 4.10, while camembert can have one that’s as high as 7.44. As you can see, the difference is quite large. So, it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing your cheese.
Generally, the most acidic cheeses include cream, cottage, American, and parmesan. Because of that, you might be better off avoiding them if you suffer from frequent heartburn.
Luckily, some types of cheese shouldn’t give you heartburn. These include camembert, old English, cheddar, or Roquefort.
They have a much higher pH level and contain many more vitamins and minerals than other, more acidic kinds. Because of that, if you can’t imagine your life without cheese, try opting for these varieties to avoid as many health complications as possible.
Is cheese good for you?
Cheese is very nutritionally balanced, containing calories from all three crucial macronutrients. While most of them come from fat, cheese also provides you with a decent dose of protein. For example, one ounce of camembert contains 11% of your daily recommended need for this nutrient.
Protein is essential for building lean muscle mass as well as contributing to weight loss. What’s more, a diet filled with protein-rich foods can help prevent heartburn by curbing your appetite and fighting against overeating.
Different kinds of cheese contain different amounts of nutrients. But all types of cheese have a significant amount of phosphorus. This mineral helps keep your bones and teeth healthy, all while aiding in muscle recovery after exercise.
Phosphorus also promotes healthy nerve impulses conduction throughout your body and helps make DNA and RNA. As you can see, there are many benefits to consuming enough phosphorus. So, since adding some cheese to your diet can help you reach your daily need for this mineral, eating cheese is a great idea.
High-fat types of cheese like blue cheese, cheddar, or brie contain some conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). According to research, these acids have many health benefits for the health of your heart.
On top of that, CLA helps reduce inflammation and prevent obesity, which can be beneficial for a low-acid diet as well as a diet aimed at weight loss. So, even though high-fat cheese types are also high in calories, small amounts can be great for your health.
Most types of cheese also provide you with a high dose of calcium. This mineral is not only essential for healthy bones, but it also maintains a strong immune system along with some other vitamins.
When mixed with vitamin D, calcium may also protect you against cancer, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. So, eating calcium-rich foods is incredibly important.
How does cheese cause heartburn?
Cheese, like other high-fat foods, may lead to heartburn, as it tends to relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscles, which are located between your esophagus and stomach.
This can lead to the stomach contents rising up your esophagus, causing heartburn and other issues. Because of that, experts recommend avoiding consuming too many high-fat foods if you’re prone to acid reflux-like symptoms.
High-fat types of cheese are also much harder for your stomach to digest. This means that they spend more time in your digestive tract, forcing your stomach to produce way more gastric acid.
The accumulation of this acid can then make it rise up your esophagus and cause heartburn. So, if you’ve noticed in the past that high-fat foods are harder for you to digest, try avoiding eating too much cheese, especially before bed.
Cheese is a dairy product, and studies have shown that an increased intake of cow’s milk and dairy products increases your likelihood of heartburn and other acid reflux-related symptoms.
The research shows that even if you were to take antacids or other medication, you would still have to deal with occasional heartburn. So, if your heartburn tends to be severe, avoiding cheese altogether might be your best choice.
Can cheese help with heartburn?
Since cheese is very high in fat that’s hard to digest, there aren’t many ways in which eating it can help with heartburn. But if you can’t imagine living without cheese, you might want to choose low-fat varieties.
These are much easier for your stomach to digest, and they also don’t lead to increased production of gastric acid. As a result, low-fat cheese types can help you incorporate this food into your diet without causing acid reflux or GERD symptoms.
Some people also believe that adding some cheese to their diets can help decrease the number of calories consumed, as cheese is rather filling. This leads to consuming less food, which is linked with a lower risk of heartburn.
But studies are conflicted on that, and it depends on how sensitive your digestive tract is to acidic foods. So, make sure that your stomach tolerates this approach.
Cheese is a very high-fat food, which increases the chances that it will lead to heartburn after you eat it. Because of that, people who tend to experience heartburn often should avoid consuming cheese, especially in large amounts.
On the other hand, some types of cheese are less acidic and high in minerals and vitamins. So, if you can tolerate these types, it’s a great idea to add them to your diet.
Alicia is the senior content editor and writer here at Food FAQ. She has extensive experience with acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, and various supplements. When not eating food for “research”, she’s watching “Friends” for the 100th time.