Is Sushi Good for Acid Reflux?

Got acid reflux and wondering if sushi is a good option? Many foods can trigger heartburn, so it’s understandable to be concerned.

The good news is sushi can be a smart choice with acid reflux if you pick the right ingredients. The fiber in sushi rice soaks up extra stomach acid to prevent flare-ups. Small sushi meals also need less acid to digest than large meals.

But some sushi toppings spell trouble for heartburn. Spicy wasabi and sauces like sriracha can fire up your symptoms. Anything deep-fried or tempura-style may also cause indigestion.

The bottom line? Sushi can be great for acid reflux if you avoid spicy and fried rolls. Stick to mild sushi with rice, veggies, fish, or even just cucumber. Consider your personal triggers too. With the right choices, sushi can be a delicious heartburn-friendly meal!

Interested to learn more? Keep reading for tips on how to enjoy sushi without igniting your acid reflux.

Sushi Rice Absorbs Excess Stomach Acid

Here’s some good news: the rice in sushi can actually help absorb extra acid in your stomach.

Sushi rice contains soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like texture when mixed with fluids like stomach acid. This gel helps neutralize stomach acid and stop it from rising into the esophagus.

Additionally, sushi rice has a low glycemic index. This means it does not cause big blood sugar spikes. Large spikes can trigger increased stomach acid production, so sushi rice avoids this effect.

For best results, avoid dunking your sushi rice in sugary sauces. Stick to a small amount of soy sauce or wasabi so the rice can keep absorbing that stomach acid.

Small Portions Need Less Stomach Acid

Another perk of sushi for acid reflux is the smaller portion sizes. Sushi pieces are bite-sized, and a standard sushi roll only contains about 1 cup of rice.

These petite portions require far less stomach acid to digest than a huge steak dinner or giant pasta bowl. With less acid needed, there is lower risk for the acid splashing up into the esophagus.

Just be mindful not to go overboard on an endless sushi feast. Stick to a modest meal of a few rolls or hand rolls. Leftover sushi also makes a great next-day lunch.

Spicy Ingredients Can Aggravate Reflux

Now for the caveat: some sushi ingredients can trigger acid reflux or worsen existing symptoms.

Most notably, wasabi is known for its powerful spicy kick. Wasabi contains compounds like isothiocyanates that can irritate the digestive tract lining. This irritation stimulates increased stomach acid production.

Other spicy ingredients like Sriracha or spicy mayo work similarly. Capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy foods their heat, can inflame the esophagus. This inflammation means more pain when stomach acid rises up.

To play it safe, get your sushi rolls without any spicy mayo or Sriracha. Choose a tiny dab of wasabi or skip it completely.

Fried Rolls Lead to Indigestion

Beyond spicy toppings, fried sushi rolls can spell heartburn. Options like tempura rolls often involve shrimp, veggies, or other ingredients that are deep fried in oil.

These greasy, fried ingredients take longer to digest. They also irritate the stomach lining, increasing acid secretion. Excess oil and grease may relax the esophageal sphincter muscle, making acid reflux episodes more likely.

Other examples of fried sushi to avoid include:

  • Philadelphia rolls (contains fried cream cheese)
  • Crunchy shrimp tempura rolls
  • Hurricane rolls (fried salmon skin)

Stick to sushi rolls with raw or baked ingredients for smoother digestion.

Raw Fish Could Pose Problems

What about sashimi or nigiri sushi with raw fish? Raw proteins require more stomach acid to break down than cooked proteins.

For those very prone to reflux, the raw fish may present problems. Certain enzymes in raw fish can also irritate the stomach lining, stimulating acid production.

However, raw fish is not necessarily off limits, especially for mild or moderate cases of acid reflux. Eating sushi with raw salmon, tuna, or yellowtail in small amounts is unlikely to cause big issues.

For best success, limit portion sizes of any raw fish. Balance it out with some veggie-based rolls too.

Other Dietary Triggers to Avoid

Some other common reflux triggers to keep off your sushi plate:

  • Citrus fruits: Lemon, lime, and yuzu can aggravate the esophageal lining.
  • Onions or garlic: Natural chemicals in these spicy veggies relax the esophageal sphincter.
  • Cheese: High-fat dairy takes longer to digest and can trigger reflux.
  • Caffeinated drinks: Coffee, tea, and soda may loosen the esophageal sphincter as well.

Tips for Eating Sushi with Acid Reflux

Want to maximize the chances your sushi date goes smoothly? Here are some tips:

  • Choose cucumber, avocado, shrimp tempura, or eel rolls.
  • Get hand rolls instead of regular rolls to limit rice intake.
  • Stay hydrated by sipping water or green tea between pieces.
  • Avoid laying down or bending over after eating sushi.
  • Take antacids before sushi if you are very prone to reflux.
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid putting pressure on your stomach.
  • Chew each piece thoroughly before swallowing.
  • Allow at least 3 hours before exercising after eating sushi.

Best Sushi Options for Acid Reflux

Worried about what sushi to order with acid reflux? Here are some of the top choices:

  • Vegetable rolls – Load up on cucumber, avocado, carrot, etc.
  • Cooked shrimp rolls – Shrimp tempura is a good protein option.
  • California rolls – Filled with avocado and imitation crab.
  • Tamago rolls – Contains sweet egg omelet.
  • Eel rolls – Avoid spicy eel sauce for best results.
  • Salmon rolls – Fresh raw salmon is usually well tolerated.
  • Yellowtail rolls – A lighter white fish that’s easy to digest.
  • Seaweed salads – Naturally low acidity.

The Verdict on Sushi and Acid Reflux

So can you eat sushi with acid reflux? The answer is yes – when you play it safe. Avoid spicy, fried, or fatty rolls. Stick to small portions with veggie- and rice-based options.

Sushi rice helps absorb excess stomach acid. Smaller sushi meals also call for less acid during digestion compared to larger meals.

Pay attention to your personal triggers too. And consider taking antacids if you are very prone to heartburn.

With the right choices and precautions, you can absolutely enjoy tasty sushi and dodge acid reflux!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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