Peanut butter is not generally a food people associate with causing acid reflux. However, it may trigger symptoms in some individuals because it is high in fat.

Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), occurs when the stomach contents travel back up the esophagus, or food pipe.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a long lasting and more severe form of GER involving recurring symptoms.

Certain foods and drinks can trigger acid reflux in some people.

This article examines whether peanut butter can trigger acid reflux and outlines dietary tips for managing GERD.

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Experts generally do not consider peanut butter a trigger for acid reflux. However, foods high in fat may trigger GERD symptoms.

Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain:

  • 3.3 grams (g) of saturated fat
  • 8.29 g of monounsaturated fat
  • 4 g of polyunsaturated fat

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people limit sources of saturated fat and replace them with unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Foods high in saturated fats may trigger symptoms of GERD. People with GERD may need to limit or avoid foods high in saturated fats, such as meat and dairy products.

It is also best to avoid foods high in trans fats, such as margarine, shortening, and processed foods.

High fat foods may slow down gastric emptying and reduce pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which can lead to GERD.

The LES is a circle of muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach to prevent stomach contents from traveling back up the food pipe. If the LES relaxes too much, people may experience acid reflux.

Peanut butter is a source of monounsaturated fat. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders suggests that people with GERD include monounsaturated fats, such as peanuts and peanut butter, in their diet to help manage symptoms.

Symptoms of acid reflux and GERD may include:

  • heartburn, which causes a painful, burning sensation in the chest
  • stomach acid or regurgitation into the throat or mouth
  • nausea
  • chest pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pain when swallowing
  • hoarse voice
  • chronic cough, or other symptoms affecting the mouth, throat, or lungs from complications of acid reflux

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, common trigger foods for GERD symptoms include the following:

  • acidic foods, such as tomatoes or citrus fruits
  • high fat foods
  • alcohol
  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • spicy foods
  • mint

If people notice that particular foods or drinks seem to trigger symptoms of GERD, they can talk with a health professional to discuss potentially limiting or avoiding these.

People can eat peanut butter in moderation. According to the AHA, a serving size of nut butter is 2 tablespoons.

Individuals may find it helpful to eat peanut butter with the following foods to help reduce GERD symptoms:

  • non-citrus fruits, such as bananas, apples, or pears
  • vegetables, such as carrots or celery sticks
  • oatmeal
  • whole-grain bread

How to choose the best peanut butter for acid reflux

People may wish to choose peanut butter with low sodium levels and no added oils or sugars.

It is best to avoid peanut butter containing tropical oils, such as palm or coconut oil.

The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research recommends the following dietary tips for managing GERD:

  • Limit high fat foods: Foods high in fat, such as bacon, sausages, baked goods, fried foods, high fat dairy, and potato chips, may slow gastric emptying.
  • Eat enough protein: Protein may increase LES pressure, helping prevent acid reflux.
  • Limit chocolate and coffee: They contain methylxanthine, which relaxes the muscles and reduces LES pressure. Coffee may also increase gastric secretions and the risk of acid reflux.
  • Eat less food and drink that may irritate the esophagus: Alcohol, citrus foods, tomatoes, mint, and carbonated beverages can irritate any existing damage to the esophagus, worsening symptoms.

Learn more about foods to eat and avoid with GERD.

Peanut butter is high in fat but contains nutritious monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Foods high in fat may trigger acid reflux in some people.

Peanut butter is not generally a common trigger food for acid reflux, and those with GERD may want to include it as a source of monounsaturated fat.

A person can eat peanut butter in moderation as part of a balanced diet. If people find that peanut butter triggers acid reflux, they may need to limit or avoid it.