The Top 10 Fruits That Cause Gas
Healthy fruits taste great and provide valuable antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Unfortunately, certain fruits can also be a hidden cause of gas, bloating and intestinal cramps for many people.
If you are experiencing digestive problems and are wondering whether a certain type of fruit could be the culprit, this page lists the 10 worst fruits for excessive flatulence, stomach cramps and belly bloat.
You’ll also find low gas alternatives and some useful tips to still enjoy these fruits without experiencing intestinal upsets.
In the number one spot for fresh fruit that causes bad gas are bananas. Though the level of ripeness of a banana can heavily influence whether they will cause you digestive problems or not.
Unripe bananas contain a lot of resistant starch, up to 80% by some estimates. Resistant starch is not digested properly by your body and has to be broken down by bacteria in your intestinal tract.
This digestive resistant starch in bananas is often referred to as a ‘prebiotic, in that it can feed beneficial bacteria in your lower intestine. But it can also feed bad bacteria in your colon as well, especially if they are in the ascendancy.
Generally, bad bacteria will create the smelliest flatulence as they break down the resistant starch from an unripe banana. But all bacterial fermentation of this fruit can create excessive gas.
A banana is actually considered unripe not just when it is still green, but right up to a full yellow color. Only when they start to get small brown spots on them are they truly ripe.
Before this point, bananas will contain flatulence causing resistant starch. As they ripen this starch converts to simple sugars like fructose and glucose.
A fully ripened medium banana will have around 5.7 g of fructose and 5.8 g of glucose, according to USDA nutritional information.
Fructose itself can cause digestive problems for some people, but bananas aren’t an especially high source compared to some other fruits.
In most cases, if you’re experiencing digestive problems like gas, stomach cramps and bloating with bananas, then you probably need to let them ripen further before you eat them.
All yellow and not green is not enough. Try a banana with brown spots on its skin and see if it is easier for you to digest properly.
The good news is that as they ripen bananas increase in nutrient content, particularly potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and other antioxidants.
The bad news is they are high in simple carbohydrates when fully ripe and are not recommended to eat too often if you’re trying to lose weight.
Eating apples can cause digestive problems like stomach cramps, bloating, bad gas and even diarrhea, but for different reasons than bananas.
The main reason apples cause gas is because they are full of a sugar alcohol called sorbitol.
Sorbitol is a complex string of sugars that cannot be broken down properly in your small intestine. Instead, it passes undigested to your large intestine where, in high enough amounts, it can cause an osmotic purge.
This occurs when water the intestinal wall has absorbed is quickly released back by osmosis in the opposite direction into the colon. The result is watery stools or outright diarrhea and can happen quite suddenly when enough sorbitol is consumed.
Even at low levels, sorbitol has to be broken down by bacterial fermentation. When enough gas is produced in this breakdown the result is usually bloating, cramps and a lot of flatulence.
Studies have shown that the higher the sorbitol content in an apple, the more people prefer the taste of it. So varieties with the most sorbitol have become the most popular apples to eat.
In testing, sweeter red breeds like Jonagold, Braeburn and Fuji apples had the highest levels of sorbitol, while the smaller and tarter green apples generally contain much less.
Sorbitol is actually found in much higher quantities in low-sugar confectionary, sugar-free sodas, low-calorie foods, processed fruit juice and chewing gum.
Manufacturers seem to find it a cheap and convenient food additive, but the fact that it is also sold as a laxative at the drugstore should be a good indicator of what it does to your insides when you have too much of it.
It’s best to avoid sorbitol is much as possible if you are experiencing digestive problems, diarrhea and especially irritable bowel syndrome.
The occasional apple makes for a healthy snack and shouldn’t cause too much flatulence for most people. Just don’t have too many at once and stay away from them if you are already experiencing bad gas.
Delicious cherries are a delight to eat but you might want to limit yourself to just a handful to avoid bloating, constant gas and other digestive issues.
Cherries are considered a high FODMAP food, meaning they contain substances known to be a problem for people suffering from IBS.
Even for those who don’t usually experience intestinal problems, going overboard on a big bag of sweet cherries can cause tummy bloat, heavy flatulence, cramps and even diarrhea.
Cherries contain a combination of indigestible fiber, sugar alcohols like apples and significant levels of fructose, that under the right conditions can be malabsorbed.
There is also some suggestion that certain people may experience nausea and even vomiting from the antioxidant quercetin found in relatively high levels in cherries.
Though unless you know you have an allergy to quercetin, I wouldn’t avoid cherries, or other healthy sources like berries, tomatoes and leafy greens over this.
It’s best to enjoy cherries in moderation, rather than having too many at once which can lead to difficulty digesting them and excessive flatulence later on.
They are a great source of minerals like iron, vitamins and cancer-preventing antioxidants and having a healthy handful, rather than a whole bag, shouldn’t cause gas problems for most people.
Juicy grapes are another otherwise healthy fruit that can cause gas and intestinal upsets if you eat too much of them.
They are rich in fructose, which is a type of simple sugar that most people get far too much of in the diet these days.
At high enough levels, fructose is malabsorbed and eating large amounts of grapes, or particularly grape juice, could easily provide enough of it to cause digestive problems.
Realistically though, with so many processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup, eating grapes would only be adding to an already existing problem of too much fructose in the diet.
If you suspect grapes in particular may be causing you gas, bloating or stomach cramps, then two other substances they contain could also be the culprits.
The first is salicylates, naturally occurring chemicals in the skin of fruits that help protect them against diseases and insects. Salicylates can be found in many foods and most people don’t seem to have a problem with them.
Some are sensitive to these chemicals though and experience symptoms like headaches, anxiety and rapid heartbeats when they have too much salicylate-containing foods in their diet.
Another potential symptom of salicylate sensitivity is digestive problems and people with irritable bowel syndrome are advised to avoid it as a potential trigger for intestinal distress.
Due to the fact that we eat a lot of the fruit’s skin when we eat grapes, they are a relatively high source of salicylates. If you eat grapes regularly and are getting unusual gas and bloating you may want to try a week off from them and see if it helps.
Another substance that may cause digestive problems, nausea and cramps that is found in grapes are tannins. These polyphenols a generally considered healthy, but if you are sensitive to green tea and wine (other high sources) then it may be best to limit grapes to avoid similar problems.
Like apples, pears are a high source of gas causing sorbitol. They are also full of fructose sugar that can be malabsorbed in the digestive tract.
In fact, processed pear juice, and other fruit juices like apple and grape, are very heavy sources of fructose, almost as bad as high fructose corn syrup sweetened sodas.
It’s far better to avoid packaged fruit juice and make your own much healthier juices instead. Not only to avoid bloating, cramps and other intestinal upsets, but also to avoid putting on body fat.
Mangoes are high in both fiber and particularly fructose and when we eat them we tend to enjoy a lot of them, which can cause problems with gas and belly bloating.
Like bananas, mangoes also contain a fair amount of digestive resistant starch before they are fully ripened and it turns to sugars.
If you’ve experienced a lot of gas or other digestive problems after eating a mango then you may have had one that wasn’t fully ripe. Make sure your mango is quite soft before you open it to eat it and limit yourself to just one to avoid problems digesting it.
Pineapple is an interesting addition to this list of fruits that cause gas. On the one hand, it does contain a fair amount of fructose sugar and fiber, both of which can cause flatulence.
On the other, it is also a rich source of digestive enzymes like bromelain, which actually helps to break down undigested protein in your digestive tract.
The putrefaction of proteins in the colon is the most common cause of that really smelly gas we all want to avoid.
The bromelain enzyme is found predominantly in the pineapple’s core and can help cleave protein bonds during digestion, preventing ‘rotten egg gas’ from ever forming in the first place.
If you think pineapple is giving you gas and can’t eat it then you still might benefit from a broad spectrum digestive enzyme with bromelain like this. Take it with any high protein meal to improve digestion and prevent protein putrification in the colon.
Nutritious berries like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries can also, unfortunately, be a cause of gas problems.
Blackberries and raspberries, while very healthy in other ways, are quite high in sorbitol and should be eaten in moderation to avoid bad gas, bloating and possibly diarrhea with excessive consumption.
Strawberries are high in fructose and have both sorbitol and fiber that can cause flatulence. With their sweet taste, many people tend to rush them down as well without chewing them properly first to help digestion.
With all berries, potential issues with salicylates mentioned in the section on grapes causing gas may also be relevant.
9. Stone Fruit
Plums, peaches, apricots and other stone fruits can also cause gas, despite their great taste and otherwise healthy nutritional profile.
Apricots, peaches and plums in particular have some of the highest levels of sorbitol and other sugar alcohols. Peaches are also full of fructose, though not to the same levels as grapes, pears or mangoes.
Stone fruits like peaches and apricots are often canned as well which makes them quite unhealthy, full of fructose and definitely a potential cause of excessive flatulence.
It’s best to avoid canned fruit and stick to fresh fruits for their health nutrients. Even then, with fruits like plums and apricots, it’s recommended to enjoy them in moderation to avoid bloating and unwanted gas.
10. Dried Fruits
Beyond canning fruit, there is one way of consuming it that is highly likely to cause gas and digestive problems – eating dried fruit.
When fruit is dried, all of the potential gas-causing compounds discussed, like sorbitol, fructose, indigestible fiber and more are heavily concentrated and made much more difficult to break down in your digestive tract.
Dried fruit is quite difficult to digest for most people and unless you chew it really well it will probably end up being broken down with fermentation by bacteria in your colon.
The worst dried fruits for gas are dried apricots, figs, plums, dates, raisins and prunes. These products usually have very high levels of sorbitol, fructose and indigestible fiber.
It could be argued that for a healthy digestive tract dried fruit can be a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your lower intestine. This is particularly true of organic and unsulphured prunes like these which have been shown to improve digestive health and help prevent colon cancer.
But for most people looking for why fruits are causing gas and other intestinal problems like bloating and cramps, dried fruits would be the first to remove from your diet in the process of elimination.
The Top 5 Low Gas Fruits
If you’d still like to enjoy some fruits without gas problems, these 5 types of fruit are the least likely to cause flatulence and other intestinal upsets.
- Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins and grapefruits are usually good low gas fruit options for most people. Lemon or lime juice in water first thing in the morning will also help to improve your overall digestive function.
- Cantaloupe and Honeydew melon are low in both sugar alcohols and fructose, though their fiber may still cause some people issues. Watermelon does unfortunately have quite a bit of sugar alcohol and can be a problem.
- In terms of berries, blueberries and cranberries are good low gas alternatives and both boast an impressive antioxidant and nutritional profile.
- Avocados are a low gas fruit and with their beneficial monounsaturated fats are also extremely good for you.
- Tropical papaya is another good fruit to eat to avoid flatulence and digestive problems. In fact, it contains a digestive enzyme called papain that helps to break down undigested protein and therefore will help to prevent those really smelly farts.
Don’t Stop Eating Fruits
My advice would be to not stop eating healthy fruits like apples, grapes, cherries and bananas, even though they may cause you some gas on occasions. Rather, try a week off from all of the fruits listed here and then slowly introduce them one at a time.
Eat only that particular fruit on its own at first, away from other foods, and you should be able to identify which fruits cause the worst bloating and flatulence for you personally.
Once you’ve identified a particular fruit that causes you gas you can still choose to eat it by taking a comprehensive digestive enzyme like this that breaks down sorbitol, fructose, indigestible fiber and other problematic substances in fruits before they can cause intestinal problems later on.
I hope this list of gas causing fruit has been helpful and would appreciate if you could share it to help other people out there.
Photo 1: Dave Crosby / Photo 2: 1sock / Photo 3: Striving Bean
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