We have found no scientific studies on the relationship between mustard and heartburn. Anecdotal evidence is mixed, mustard seems to soothe heartburn in some cases and exacerbate it in others.
Mustard is a condiment produced from the seeds of a mustard plant, which are plants that belong to either the Brassica or Sinapis genera. Its use dates to Ancient Greece, where it was used to treat scorpion bites, though today mustard is widely used all over the world.
To make mustard, these seeds are ground, mixed with vinegar, water, wine lemon juice or other liquids, salt, and sometimes other spices and flavorings. The resulting paste is usually thick in consistency, with a strong, pungent taste, that can vary from sweet to spicy.
Mustard is widely used in sandwiches, hot dogs, and hamburgers as it pairs well with cheese, meat, and vegetables. Moreover, mustard is a popular ingredient in marinades, mayonnaise, vinaigrettes, dressings, sauces, soups, and glazes.
Types of mustard
There are generally three types of mustard:
- White or yellow mustard is made from the Sinapis alba plant.
- Brown mustard is made from the Brassica juncea plant.
- Black mustard is made from the Brassica nigra plant.
Different brands of mustard use either the yellow/white seeds, the brown seeds, or the black seed.
Dijon mustard for example is French mustard produced using black mustard seeds. It has a paler yellow color, creamier, is made with white wine rather than vinegar, and is spicier.
The American yellow mustard is made from yellow mustard seeds, and it is the popular mustard used on hot dogs, salad dressing, and sandwiches.
Is mustard acidic or alkaline?
Mustard has a pH range of 3.6 – 6.0, depending on the ingredients used in its production. This places mustard on the acidic side of the pH scale as is the case with most condiments and spices.
Does mustard help acid reflux?
Generally, people with acid reflux are advised to cut off spices from their diets as most spices are acidic and thus spices are considered triggers for acid reflux.
However, there are conflicting views on whether mustard helps with acid reflux or not. While some swear consuming some mustard helped to relieve their acid reflux episodes, others say the opposite.
Mustard and digestion
Mustard seeds have been used traditionally as a digestive aid, as they stimulate the flow of saliva as well as the secretion of gastric juices.
Saliva helps to neutralize stomach acids and wash digestive juices from the esophagus back to the stomach. Both have a soothing effect on heartburn.
However, for sensitive people, the secretion of much gastric acid might worsen reflux episodes and severity, as the excess acids are more likely to flow back to the esophagus.
Vinegar is the main ingredient used in the production of mustard. Vinegar is highly acidic and a potent stimulator of gastric acid secretion. This makes it a trigger food for people with acid reflux.
The only vinegar that is said to relieve acid reflux is apple cider vinegar, whose acetic acid has an alkalizing effect in the body if one or two teaspoons of it are diluted in a glass of water and consumed.
Should acid reflux sufferers avoid mustard?
Since people with acid reflux tend to have different triggers, if mustard triggers acid reflux in you, you should avoid it.
However, if it helps your acid reflux, then consume with moderation to be on the safe side.
If you have never tried mustard before and would want to see if it is good for your reflux, it is advised you try a spoon first and then observe, then you can gradually increase the servings if it works well for you.
Can mustard trigger heartburn?
As discussed above, mustard might trigger acid reflux in some sensitive people causing heartburn symptoms. Some others have reported that mustard relieves their heartburn symptoms. So, there is no general rule here, as reactions to mustard tend to be subjective.
Mustard & honey for heartburn
Mustard honey is mustard and honey mixed in a ratio of 1:1. It is a common dip for finger foods like chicken fingers and a common spread for sandwiches.
The English mustard is commonly mixed with honey and used for coating grilled pork chops or lamb cutlets.
Honey forms a protective layer on the esophagus mucose, which soothes heartburn symptoms. If mustard helps your acid reflux, it might be even more effective when combined with honey.
However, honey has high sugar content, which might worsen reflux symptoms in some people.
How to use mustard for acid reflux?
Yellow mustard is one of the three types of mustard that most people say helps relieve their acid reflux.
This is most probably because yellow mustard gets its yellow color from turmeric that is added to it during processing.
Tumeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizome that belongs to the same family as ginger (Zingiberaceae), native to Asia. It contains a phenolic compound called curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It is reputed for protecting the esophagus walls from inflammation caused by acid reflux.
As an antioxidant, it protects the esophageal mucosa from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which can damage the esophagus walls, and worsen acid reflux symptoms.
Whether mustard helps with heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms or exacerbates is not entirely clear yet. Looks like it might help some people and make symptoms worse for others.
Different types of mustards have different ingredients. Yellow mustard made with turmeric/curcumin seems to be the most likely to soothe symptoms.
If mustard seems to relieve your symptoms, combining it with honey might provide even better relief.