Grapes are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. But they're also high in fructose, a naturally occurring sugar that can be a source of digestive discomfort for some people.
If grapes make your stomach hurt, here are some possible culprits and what you can do about it.
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1. Fructose Intolerance
Stomach pain from grapes may be due to fructose malabsorption, a type of dietary intolerance where your gut can't adequately process the sugar in fruit, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In addition to pain, you may experience symptoms like:
Hereditary fructose intolerance is a similar but more serious inherited condition where you lack an enzyme needed to break down fructose, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It can cause your blood sugar to drop and lead to dangerous buildup in your liver and kidneys. Besides stomach pain, other symptoms include:
- Excessive sleepiness
In both cases, it's best to skip high-fructose foods, like grapes, that cause upset stomach, per the Cleveland Clinic.
If you have a dietary fructose intolerance, work with your doctor or dietitian to try an elimination diet. You'll avoid and then slowly reintroduce fructose to determine which foods and what amount of fructose leads to stomach pain, per the Cleveland Clinic.
2. Trouble Digesting Fiber
Even if you don't have fructose malabsorption, eating grapes can cause gas. That's because fruit and other foods like vegetables, grains and beans are high in fiber, a nutrient your body can't digest, per the Mayo Clinic. And while fiber is good for your digestive system overall, it can cause some serious gas as the bacteria in your intestines ferment it, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The result? Stomach discomfort, cramping, burping or farting. So if grapes make you gassy, your best bet is to avoid snacking on them (and any other gas-inducing foods that give you trouble).
3. Grape Allergy
Your stomachache may be the result of an allergy to grapes, grape proteins or grape products like wine, according to September 2018 research in Allergologie Select.
Per the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms of a grape allergy can include:
- Tingly or itchy mouth
- Skin rashes like hives and eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue or throat
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Dizziness or fainting
If you suspect you have a grape allergy, see your doctor or an allergist, who can run some tests to make sure. In the meantime, it's best to avoid eating grapes.
If eating grapes causes anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction where your throat swells shut and makes it hard to breathe — seek emergency care immediately, per the Mayo Clinic.
4. Sensitivity to Fruit Chemicals
Grapes may make your stomach hurt if you have a sensitivity to salicylates, a chemical found naturally in certain plants that protects them from fungus and disease, according to November 2020 research in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Per a July 2014 review in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, salicylate sensitivity can also cause:
According to March 2021 research in Nutrients, other foods high in salicylates include:
- Legumes like beans and lentils
- Pickled vegetables
If you're sensitive to salicylates, it's best limit or avoid these foods.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It may be harder for your body to digest high-fructose foods like grapes if you have a digestive condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to the University of Virginia Health System. As a result, stomach pain and these other symptoms can ensue:
The Cleveland Clinic recommends people with IBS try a low-FODMAP diet to reduce and prevent symptoms. It limits difficult-to-digest foods like dairy products, cruciferous vegetables and high-fructose fruit in favor of lactose-free dairy, gentler veggies like eggplant and low-fructose fruits like bananas.
How to Deal With Stomach Pain From Grapes
If grapes irritate your stomach, here are some ways to treat and prevent it.
1. Take an Antacid
Popping an over-the-counter antacid could help reduce stomach pain and other symptoms of heartburn, indigestion and gas from grapes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
2. Don't Eat Too Many Grapes
Even if you don't have any of the issues mentioned above, eating too many grapes — which, according to the USDA, is anything more than the recommended serving size of 1 cup — can bring about stomach upset. Accordingly, stick to that amount to avoid pain or prevent it from getting worse.
3. Eat Low-Fructose Fruits
Sometimes the best way to deal with stomach pain from grapes is to prevent it altogether. How? Per the Mayo Clinic, steer clear of high-fructose grapes and instead opt for low-fructose fruits like:
If your pain persists past 24 to 48 hours, see your doctor. If your stomach pain is sudden and on the right side of your belly — a possible sign of appendicitis — the Mayo Clinic recommends contacting your doctor immediately.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Hereditary Fructose Intolerance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Appendicitis"
- Cleveland Clinic: "What Is Fructose Intolerance?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gas and gas pains"
- Allergologie Select: "Allergic and intolerance reactions to wine"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food allergy"
- World Journal of Gastroenterology: "Irritable bowel syndrome and food interaction"
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Natural Salicylates and Their Roles in Human Health"
- Nutrients: "Effectiveness of Personalized Low Salicylate Diet in the Management of Salicylates Hypersensitive Patients: Interventional Study"
- University of Virginia Health System: "Low Fructose Diet"
- Cleveland Clinic: "The Best and Worst Foods for IBS"
- Mayo Clinic: "Indigestion"
- USDA: "Fruits"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fructose intolerance: Which foods to avoid?"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.