What Vegetables Can You Eat if You Have GERD?

Herbed Vegetable Plate
A medley of steamed vegetables on a plate. (Image: epantha/iStock/Getty Images)

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, occurs when stomach acid comes up into the lower esophagus through a weakened esophageal sphincter. Untreated, GERD may increase your risk of esophageal cancer. Certain foods can exacerbate GERD symptoms by increasing your level of stomach acid or by relaxing the muscle controlling your lower esophagus. Vegetables aren't typically among the foods people with GERD are advised to avoid, but the seasonings and cooking method used to prepare vegetables may trigger symptoms.

Recommended Vegetables

The average person with GERD can eat all types of vegetables without experiencing an increase in acid reflux, says the Myrtue Medical Center. This includes fresh, frozen and canned vegetables as well as 100 percent vegetable juice. According to gastroenterologist Jorge Rodriguez, the high fiber content of vegetables improves the function of the digestive system and may lower GERD symptoms. Aim to have between four and six servings of vegetables daily.

Best Preparation Methods

Fat relaxes the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach, thereby increasing the likelihood of acid reflux. To keep your fat intake low when consuming vegetables, avoid deep-frying them or topping them with butter or cream sauce. When you're eating out, steer clear of au gratin vegetables, which are usually prepared with butter and a top layer of cheese. Instead, opt for vegetables that are grilled, roasted, steamed or stir-fried in only a small amount of vegetable oil.

Choosing Seasonings

People with GERD may find that fresh mint and citrus juices like lemon or lime juice may cause an increase in their symptoms. When preparing your vegetables, avoid using these as seasonings -- or any other specific herbs and spices -- if they cause discomfort. By contrast, Rodriguez says that using ginger to flavor your cooking may aid digestion. In addition, fennel, which can be prepared as a vegetable or used dried as a seasoning, may help offer relief from digestive bloating.

Expert Insight

The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign points out that there is no single GERD diet since all GERD patients are different. While one person may be able to eat any kind of vegetable, other individuals with the condition may find certain types increase acid reflux. The best way for you to determine the foods you should avoid is to record everything you eat along with any symptoms experienced in a journal. Ask your doctor if you need help developing an eating plan to help manage the condition.

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