It is a well-known fact that diet plays a decisive role in the annoying symptom known as heartburn or acid reflux – often as a trigger, or root cause.
Changing your diet can help resolve heartburn symptoms for the long run. Some foods have substantial alkaline effects that help alleviate acid reflux quickly and effectively.
Here, we’ll discuss the 5 best vegetables for acid reflux and heartburn — remedies you’ll find in any produce section or farm market.
Studies are now showing us that certain unexpected vegetables are in fact great home remedies for acid reflux symptoms. The same studies are also showing that other groceries have so far been overrated as heartburn remedies.
At the end of the article we'll show you an easy and tasty anti-heartburn smoothie recipe, which combines the power of all these natural ingredients.
Home Remedies or drugs?
There are many potential causes for heartburn, and you should always talk to your doctor about the possible root cause. But what can be done if you have acute heartburn right now?
One option is medication, like antacids or PPIs. I assume, as you found your way to this site, that this isn’t your goal. And that is very good! Many of the available drugs will indeed help against heartburn, but will often cause more severe or risky side effects.
And here I want to emphasize the “home” in remedy. Ideally you want an effective remedy that you already have at home for other reasons (like food for example).
The goal of this article is to present you with 5 vegetables, which almost everyone already has at home and which are excellent remedies for heartburn, as recent studies show. They act as natural antacids to neutralize stomach acid.
Vegetables for neutralizing stomach acid
Out of pure interest, I always keep one eye on the study situation around acid reflux and heartburn. Because of that I have recently encountered two very interesting, fairly recent studies of that topic.
Both studies research how effectively certain foodstuffs can be used as antacids (for neutralizing stomach acid).
These foods support restoring the natural gastrointestinal balance and the function of this tract. They help buffer the acid reflux, support the digestion process, reduce the burning sensation and soothe the inflamed stomach lining.
The study investigates the antacid effect of several foodstuffs and compares their effects to water and to the active controls: sodium bicarbonate and a marketed antacid (ENO). The foods used during this study were broccoli, cucumber, kale, radish, lemon juice, cold milk and curd.
While lemon juice unsurprisingly fails to deliver antacid effects, all the other foods — broccoli, cucumber, kale, radish, and spinach - proved to be strong antacids.
However, I would like to expressly point out the risks of milk and curd as home remedies for heartburn.
Although these have a positive effect on many people in the short term, as the studies have shown, they are unsuitable for safely fighting heartburn. Cow’s milk is both difficult to digest and relatively greasy, and therefore remains in the stomach for a long time, thus stimulating gastric acid production. Hence, I would not recommend the milk products (milk or curd), nor lemon juice at all.
Both studies conclude that the tested foods have significant antacid effects, and can therefore be recommended as anti-heartburn additives for your own diet. All 5 vegetables are highly alkaline, but also extremely healthy in many other regards.
The 5 winners and the benefits for your health
Here is an overview of the 5 tested vegetables and a summary of their benefits to your health.
The cucumber includes so-called proteases (enzymes with a protein cleaving function). Thus, cucumber helps to more easily digest protein rich nutrients. The enzymes also clean the intestine by killing bacteria.
Additionally, there are antioxidant substances in a cucumber, which reduce for example the risk of heart diseases.
The cucumber is also one of the most calorie-free foods: one hundred grams contain only about 12 calories. This is mainly due to the high water content (about 95%). So a cucumber can also be a pretty good thirst quencher.
Furthermore, it contains not only water, but also many vitamins such as B (stress control), C (antioxidant - good for the heart), E and minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, potassium (sustain healthy blood pressure).
Please note that most of the vitamins actually are in the cucumber peel. So it’s best to buy untreated cucumbers or to wash them very well, and eat the skin. And if you use the cucumber as a smoothie or shake ingredient, it is best to blend it with its skin still on.
With regard to heartburn, cucumbers are an alkaline food and thus neutralize acid in the body by increasing the pH value.
Spinach helps against heartburn, as we have shown in the studies above. But this is only one of many benefits of this amazing vegetable.
The alkaline characteristics of the spinach are crucial with regard to heartburn and make it an excellent antacid. But this characteristic is just one of many health benefits.
In short, according to a study by the University of Manchester, spinach is extremely healthy and first and foremost protects the eyes in two ways:
- By a very high percentage of beta carotene, spinach protects against night blindness.
- Through the contained lutein, spinach also protects against AMD, an age-related eye disease.
With one serving of spinach, you cover your daily requirement of beta carotene, vitamin K, fiber and manganese, as well as about half of the magnesium requirement.
Spinach also contains various antioxidants. These have been proven to possess anticancer properties (skin cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer).
Furthermore, the magnesium contained in the spinach helps the cardiovascular system by regulating the blood pressure. Even one portion raw spinach salad is sufficient to lower high blood pressure within a few hours.
Kale is also a vegetable with highly alkaline properties and therefore suitable as a natural remedy for heartburn.
But just like the other vegetables listed here, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Kale is generally extremely healthy. It contains lots of vitamin K and C, iron, calcium and many antioxidants.
Due to the high quality of the contained protein, it is often recommended as a healthy alternative to animal proteins. As studies prove, kale is a true superfood and possesses various healing effects.
Broccoli is highly alkaline as well and therefore a strong antacid - an excellent food for heartburn. But this is just its side job, so to speak.
Broccoli is also extremely healthy and is one of the great vegetables that have been shown to have a preventive and combative effect on a wide variety of cancers (Study 1 - Ohio State University, Study 2 - University Hospital of Heidelberg/Germany).
However, this topic is beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested in all the details of the anti-carcinogenic properties of the broccoli, I can recommend this summary page from Greenmedinfo to launch for your further reading.
But apart from this sensational property, broccoli can do so much else for your health:
- It strengthens the immune system by possessing a high proportion of beta-carotene, zinc and selenium.
- Broccoli supports the fight against diabetes. The low sugar and high fiber content can be used to minimize insulin requirements.
- The risk of heart disease and stroke is minimized due to lutein, B6 and folate.
- Broccoli contains a lot of vitamin K and the calcium content is even higher than many dairy products. This helps build and maintain a healthy bone structure.
- The amount of potassium, calcium and magnesium supports the regulation of blood pressure.
- It's even known to be a cold remedy, thanks to the vitamin C, antioxidants and inflammation inhibitors.
Radish is a great remedy for heartburn, as already noted above, and it's also very healthy for other reasons. Not everyone likes this root vegetable because of its spiciness.
This characteristic flavor stems from the radish containing a high amount of mustard oils, which are an additional help against your heartburn.
Varieties of radish include horseradish, daikon, red radishes, and many others. Mustard oils soothe the stomach and also lower the production of stomach acid.
Furthermore, the mustard oils have a healing effect on bile and the liver.
Other benefits of radishes are a low calorie and fat content, as well as being rich in vitamin C. Approximately half the daily requirement is covered by just 200 g of radish.
Need a radish recipe? This green pea and radish salad is a winner.
How about a wonderful, extra-healthy anti-heartburn smoothie made from all of the above ingredients? For me this has worked wonderfully against heartburn, whenever I've had some in the past weeks. And it tastes a lot better than you’d think!:
Makes: 1 green smoothie
- A handful of raw spinach (regular or baby spinach
- 3 to 4 broccoli florets (uncooked),
- 1 leaf of kale - fresh and without stems (because of the tough fibers it’s best to chop it a little, unless you have a very powerful blender).
- ½ cucumber
- 3- or 4-inch piece horseradish or a handful of regular radishes, chopped (depending on your taste and spiciness of the radish, you can vary the quantity).
- Water as needed
- ½ peeled orange to sweeten, optional
Combine everything in a blender. Blend until completely smooth, and enjoy!
Say good bye to your heartburn and enjoy the many other benefits of the vegetables in this green smoothie.
Let us know what you think, and the results if you use the recommendations here to combat acid reflux. What will you try? Broccoli, cucumber, spinach, radish, kale or maybe our smoothie with all the ingredients?
Learn more about vegan nutrition and healthy eating here.