Closely related to onions and shallots, garlic has incredible health benefits. It’s also a great source of several vitamins and minerals but still remains low in calories.
In addition, garlic has a strong taste and flavor, which often makes people worry that it might cause issues like heartburn.
But is there any truth to it? Does garlic cause heartburn?
Does garlic cause heartburn?
Garlic is very healthy, but doctors advise against eating it if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD. This is because it can irritate your esophagus and cause increased production of stomach acid. But remember that not everyone has the same food triggers.
So, you might be able to eat some garlic on a low-acid diet. Because of that, listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.
What is the pH level of garlic?
Fresh raw garlic has a pH level of around 5.80. It’s not a very low pH level, but garlic contains acid-forming properties that can contribute to heartburn, especially if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD.
Garlic also has a very strong taste, which can cause a burning sensation in your throat and esophagus, irritating and inflaming it.
This can further add to unpleasant acid reflux symptoms.
Powdered garlic used as a spice and pickled garlic also have low pH levels, even lower than fresh garlic.
Because of that, they should be limited on a low-acid diet. What’s more, pickled garlic contains a lot of additives, such as sugar and salt, which can trigger your acid reflux even more.
So, try to avoid it as much as possible.
How does garlic give you heartburn?
Garlic has a very strong taste that can irritate and inflame your esophagus once digested. While your stomach is more equipped to deal with acidic foods, your esophagus is much more sensitive.
As a result, eating foods like garlic can irritate it and lead to heartburn and other symptoms.
This is the most common way garlic leads to heartburn, especially in people not diagnosed with acid reflux or GERD.
Eating too much garlic can also lead to indigestion, which forces your stomach to produce more gastric acid. If this acid isn’t flushed out or diluted, it can reflux up your esophagus and lead to heartburn and other symptoms.
So, make sure to limit how much garlic you consume and stick to a few cloves in a whole dish, especially if you’re using raw garlic.
Is garlic healthy?
Garlic is very nutritious but contains very few calories. Eating garlic provides you with a good dose of micronutrients like phosphorus, calcium, manganese, selenium, vitamin B6, thiamin, and vitamin C.
Even though no one eats more than a few garlic gloves in one meal, this serving still contains a decent amount of these nutrients.
Because of that, garlic can help you load up on some essential vitamins and minerals without adding any unnecessary calories.
Some studies showed that eating garlic or taking garlic extracts as a supplement reduces your risk of getting sick and helps you fight off the common cold.
Experts believe that it’s because the compounds and nutrients found in garlic help boost your immune system, helping it fight against viruses and bacteria.
As a result, adding more garlic to your diet during the flu season or the colder months might be beneficial for your health.
Garlic also contains some active plant compounds, which help lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is closely linked to an increased risk of strokes and other health issues.
Luckily, research shows that garlic supplements help reduce blood pressure, especially in people with high blood pressure.
In fact, taking garlic supplements might be as effective at lowering your blood pressure as medication.
Adding garlic to your diet can help you lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels as well. Both garlic supplements and fresh garlic seem to have the same effect, making them a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
High levels of this type of cholesterol raise your risk of various cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes.
So, it’s important to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Can you eat garlic if you suffer from heartburn?
Not everyone who suffers from acid reflux or GERD will experience heartburn after eating garlic.
Everyone’s trigger foods are different, so make sure to take note of what aggravates your symptoms and what doesn’t.
In most cases, eating raw garlic is the greatest contributor to acid reflux and GERD symptoms.
So, you might want to try roasting it, which changes its flavor and makes it milder.
Roasted garlic can also be easier to incorporate in various dishes like sauces, soups, and even as a spice or marinade for meats and veggies.
Does garlic butter give you heartburn?
Garlic butter not only contains garlic, which is already a trigger for heartburn, but it’s also high in fat. High-fat foods increase your risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
This is because they tend to stay in your stomach longer, forcing it to produce more gastric acid. This acid can then reflux up your esophagus and cause heartburn.
So, if you’re particularly sensitive to acidic foods, try avoiding them as much as possible.
Garlic butter also tends to be high in sodium, which disrupts digestion and irritates your stomach lining.
This makes your digestive tract much more sensitive to acid and can cause heartburn and other issues. In addition, a diet high in sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure and strokes.
So, make sure to eat high-salt foods in moderation and as part of an otherwise healthy diet.
Garlic is an acid-forming food, which may cause heartburn in people who are especially susceptible to such issues.
So, if you notice that eating garlic gives you unpleasant symptoms, it might be best to limit how much you eat or remove it from your diet completely.
If garlic isn’t a trigger food for you, it might be beneficial to include small amounts of this healthy food in 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.