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Does Ice Cream Cause Heartburn? (Uh-Oh)

In order to avoid heartburn, you have to eliminate trigger foods that give you this unpleasant symptom in the first place. 

While that might sound easy, there’s actually a lot to consider when choosing the right foods for a low-acid diet.

The biggest issue is when it comes to snacks and desserts, as most of them tend to be quite acidic. 

For example, ice cream usually contains a lot of sugar and fat, which are nutrients that contribute to heartburn. But does ice cream cause heartburn?

Does Ice Cream Cause Heartburn?

Ice cream is rather acidic and contains many nutrients and substances that might aggravate heartburn in people particularly prone to it. Because of that, it should be avoided on a low-acid diet.

Additionally, ice cream isn’t particularly nutritious, so it doesn’t provide you with enough vitamins and minerals to be a good addition to a balanced diet. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate it from your diet – just make sure to practice moderation.

Don’t know what to drink? We made a list of more than 20 most and least acidic juices and 20+ alcoholic drinks ranked by acidity levels.

Is ice cream acidic?

Is ice cream acidic?
Is ice cream acidic?

Most types of ice cream have a low pH level, ranging between 5.82-6.62. But the actual pH level can be much lower, depending on the flavor. For example, fruity ice cream tends to be more acidic than plain vanilla ice cream.

Sorbets are the most acidic, so if you experience heartburn after regular ice cream, eating them will definitely make it even worse. 

So, if you want to indulge in an occasional cup of ice cream, try choosing plain varieties.

How can ice cream cause heartburn?

Firstly, most ice cream is made with cow’s milk. This can be problematic since dairy has been linked with heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms. 

Experts believe that dairy leads to the relaxation of your lower esophageal sphincter muscles found between your esophagus and stomach.

These muscles are meant to keep the contents of your stomach down. So, when they’re relaxed, you can experience the burning sensation known as heartburn in your chest and throat, as stomach acids rise up.

Ice cream is also very high in fat. In fact, a single serving of half a cup of plain ice cream contains around 11% of your daily recommended need for fat. 

This nutrient is hard for your stomach to digest, which means that the food will spend more time in your stomach.

How can ice cream cause heartburn?
How can ice cream cause heartburn?

This, in turn, leads to the accumulation of gastric acid, which is then more likely to reflux up and cause heartburn. In addition, most people consume more than half a cup of ice cream in one sitting, so you can see how the fat content can accumulate.

Additionally, the same serving of ice cream can contain up to 16 g of sugar, if not more. This nutrient is not only bad for your health and can cause diabetes, but it also leads to inflammation in your digestive tract.

This inflammation can irritate your stomach and increase the production of acid. So, eating ice cream isn’t particularly good for people with acid reflux.

Is ice cream good for you?

While ice cream is definitely not a healthy food, there are some benefits of having some from time to time. 

Firstly, it does contain some calcium, about 8% of your daily need for this mineral in a half-cup serving. 

Calcium is responsible for strong bones and teeth, and it also boosts your immune system, improving your body’s ability to fight against viral infections. 

Along with vitamin D, calcium can also help protect you against cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Ice cream also tends to contain quite a decent amount of phosphorus – a mineral crucial for the health of your bones, teeth, and muscles. 

Is ice cream good for you?
Is ice cream good for you?

Phosphorus also helps kidneys remove waste and promotes healthy nerve conduction throughout your body.

While ice cream might not contain large amounts of any vitamins or minerals, it can have some wonderful health benefits if you consume it in moderation.

The best ice cream for you is the one you make yourself. You can easily do that using frozen bananas and coconut milk, creating smooth and creamy ice cream that contains a lot more nutrients than the store-bought varieties.

You can get even more health benefits if you buy ice cream made with real ingredients, such as cream, milk, cocoa, and vanilla beans. 

Because of that, make sure to read the nutritional label carefully and steer clear of ice cream brands that have added sugars and lots of preservatives.

Should you eat ice cream on acid reflux?

While there are a lot of nutrients found in ice cream that can trigger heartburn, you don’t necessarily have to remove it from your diet completely. 

Just make sure to consume it in moderation and follow an otherwise healthy, balanced diet.

It’s also a good idea to avoid ice cream with chocolate, mint, or other ingredients like that, as they’re much higher in sugar and fat. Instead, choose plain ice cream like vanilla to avoid heartburn.

Is vegan ice cream better for people with heartburn?

Is vegan ice cream better for people with heartburn?
Is vegan ice cream better for people with heartburn?

Vegan ice cream contains around the same amount of sugar and fat as regular whole milk ice cream. 

The only difference is that it doesn’t contain lactose, which can be helpful for people with lactose intolerance.

When you’re lactose intolerant, your stomach is already more sensitive to anything that can produce more gastric acid. 

So, if you consume foods that aggravate your condition even more, you will feel much worse. 

So, in that way, eating vegan or lactose-free ice cream might be slightly better for those who suffer from heartburn.

Conclusion

Ice cream is a delicious treat – there’s no doubt about it. But unfortunately, it can trigger heartburn in some people. 

Ice cream is not only high in fat but also sugar and contains dairy, which is a trigger for heartburn too.

So, if you know your stomach is sensitive to such foods, make sure to limit your consumption of ice cream. 

You can also choose vegan or lactose-free ice cream if those don’t upset your stomach that much.

Don’t know what to drink? We made a list of more than 20 most and least acidic juices and 20+ alcoholic drinks ranked by acidity levels.

Sources: ResearchGate, Nutrition Data, and National Library of Medicine