Q. Years ago my doctor put me on Prevacid for acid reflux. Later when my company switched insurance, I ended up on Zantac 150. Now that I live in Ecuador, I’m taking ranitidina, which is supposed to be equivalent to Zantac.
I read with interest that eating three almonds before or after a meal could help with heartburn. My question is, do you see any problem with the almonds being chocolate covered?

A. We’re afraid so. Although they are delicious, chocolate-covered almonds are unlikely to be helpful. That’s because chocolate may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, the ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus. Heartburn happens when this muscle relaxes and allows acid to splash back up into the swallowing tube.
Without the chocolate coating, though, almonds have been winning praise: “I wanted to tell you that almonds really work to prevent heartburn. I had heartburn after dinner no matter what I ate. When I saw your column about almonds I bought a big container of roasted almonds from Costco. I have been eating a few after dinner and I have not had heartburn since.”

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  1. ew

    this is interesting. i had completely weaned myself from omeprazole over the summer, after taking it for about 10 years, but lately i notice a nightly need for tums again, sometimes several times. i have allergic asthma-related gerd. thing is, i was eating tons of almonds with my berries and plain yogurt in summer when it was too hot to cook, only now not so much. related?

  2. Mary E. L.

    Does anyone have suggestion for heartburn/pressure that awakens me in the middle of the night? I follow pretty strictly the rules about diet, and eat the last meal of the day around 5 p.m., walk before bedtime most nights, but still am awakened most nights between 2 to 4 a.m. with intense pressure in the area of mid breast bone.
    Cardio problems have been eliminated. I find gastroentrologists (4 of them in the past year or so) quite indifferent, and unable to offer any solutions. To say I have lost faith in them is an understatement. I am concerned about the long term use of PPI’s, which now include Prevacid.

  3. EB

    For JC, I wonder if almond butter would work? Not sure whether it’s available commercially from raw almonds or just from roasted, but I’m sure you can find instructions online to make it at home in a food processor.

  4. paul43

    I munch on a few Almonds in the evening as a snack & they stop me from eating anything else that bad.

  5. SB

    You may want to soak almonds for 8-10 hours and remove the skin before consuming. This softens the almonds. Else, you can roughly pound the soaked almonds them to make them more chewable.

  6. jmw

    You can get Almond butter at Trader Joe’s or many online health and vitamin supplement outlets. Try a tablespoon after meals. It is delicious.

  7. bf

    Almond paste. Used in candies and cakes. I assume it is ground up almonds. It may be sweetened though.

  8. Lisme

    Almonds can be ground up, resulting in “almond butter”. Look for this product in the natural foods section of the store. Almond butter is delicious and really brings out the flavor. I don’t know if this would be the same as eating whole almonds.

  9. T.L. De Paull

    Almonds for heartburn. As mentioned, in the article about chocolate almonds the article mentioned roasted almonds which is also not a good choice. Raw almonds, nothing on them, is recommended.

  10. abigail

    Fascinating. Are there other sphincters in our bodies that are affected by chocolate? Can chocolate consumption be linked to incontinence? What ingredients or chemicals in chocolate have this effect?

  11. J.C.

    I’m unable to eat nuts because of dentures. Is it possible there’s a soft product of almonds I could purchase?

  12. bf

    Several things induce miserable heartburn for me: riding in a car after a meal, eating later than 6:30 in the evening and going to bed at usual time, eating too much, eating certain foods on a very empty stomach, and wearing tight clothing at my waist.. The worst, eating a full meal, putting a tight pair of jeans, and driving somewhere. That induces severe heartburn, violent coughing, thick phlegm.
    ALL are very solve-able. Don’t do those things. Simply do not do those things. It works grand. The food has to be allowed to digest normally and get out of the stomach, and so many things we do constrict it.

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