The Foods Most Likely to Cause Gas

Beans have the reputation of being "the musical fruit," but there are plenty of other gassy foods. They all have the potential to contribute to intestinal discomfort, such as bloating and flatulence.

This article presents a number of fruits, grains, and other foods that can cause gas. If gas is a problem for you, knowing about these gassy foods can help you to make changes in your diet.

What Makes Foods Gassy?

In general, gassy foods are those that contain certain types of sugars: fructose, lactose, raffinose, and sorbitol. They also include some foods with soluble fiber. These elements in food are not digested in the stomach. They make their way down to your intestines where bacteria break them down. The end result of this breakdown is the release of gas.​

Vegetables and Legumes

Crock of baked beans

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The vegetables listed here are among the most likely to give you gas due to the fact that they contain the sugars raffinose and/or fructose. Remember that these foods are actually very good for you, so just avoid them at times when you feel you need to be gas-free. These foods include:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes

Among the legumes, these may cause the most gas:

  • Baked beans
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Butter beans
  • Cannellini (white) beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans

Fruits

red Apples

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The following fruits are known for causing gas. They contain fructose, sorbitol, and/or soluble fiber. These fruits are good for you, so try to eat them on days when it is OK if you are a little gassier than usual. They are:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Watermelon

These dried fruits also may cause gas:

  • Apricots
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

Dairy Products

milk and various cheeses

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You may find that eating dairy products results in unwanted gas. This is true even for people who do not have a lactose intolerance because of the sugars in milk and other dairy foods. As our bodies age, we tend to produce less of the enzyme lactase. It is needed to help digest lactose, so dairy foods may become a problem causing gas.

To reduce gas, here are some dairy products to avoid:

  • Buttermilk
  • Cream cheese
  • Heavy cream
  • Ice cream
  • Milk
  • Processed foods with milk products
  • Ricotta

Recap

Foods with certain types of sugars and a lot of soluble fiber may cause gas. This is because the body breaks them down in the intestines, not the stomach. Many of the foods that can give you gas are healthy and essential in your diet. You don't want to avoid them altogether. It's better to limit the specific foods that bother you, or to avoid gassy foods only at certain times you may think are important.

Whole Grains

Wholegrain food still life shot on rustic wooden table

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Whole grains provide some helpful vitamins and are a source of dietary fiber. However, some foods have a higher soluble fiber content. They also contain raffinose, a type of sugar that can cause intestinal gas. Here are some to avoid:

  • Barley
  • Flaxseed
  • Rye
  • Wheat

Drinks

soda bubbles

Jennifer Smith / Moment / Getty Images

Some beverages may contain fructose and sorbitol. They also may be carbonated. Drinks that can contribute to intestinal gas include:

  • Beer
  • Fruit juices
  • Soda (regular and diet) 

Sugar-Free Foods

sugar-free candy

Juanmonino / E+ / Getty Images

Sometimes, the thing that gives us gas is something we have overlooked entirely. Many people do not know that a big cause of gas is sugar-free gum. Many sugar-free food products contain sorbitol, which can be fermented by gut bacteria. This may lead to unwanted gas.

Read labels carefully when you buy sugar-free gums, candy, and snack foods. This will ensure that you don't choose the ones that have sorbitol in them.

Other Causes of Intestinal Gas

Bloating or Burping

 

Image Source / Getty Images

It may help you to keep in mind that food is not the only cause of intestinal gas. The habits listed below can cause you to swallow air. This air may contribute to belching, bloating, and excess gas. Keep an eye out for:

  • Chewing gum
  • Eating too quickly
  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Sucking on hard candies
  • Dentures that don't fit well
  • Smoking

Chronic Problems With Gas?

Fruits around a food journal

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Diet changes are not the only way to reduce intestinal gas. There are many over-the-counter treatment options that work well. They help your body to digest the sugars that can cause gas, so that you can eat the foods that contain them without having a gas problem.

You will see that many of the foods on the above list are those that are quite good for you. They offer real nutritional benefits. Most people do not need or want to eliminate them all from their diet. A better approach is to accurately pinpoint which specific foods are a problem for your body.

The use of a food diary may help you to identify which foods cause gas. Once you know that something is a problem food, try smaller amounts of it first. That way, you can still benefit from its nutritional value.

You may want to speak to your healthcare provider about trying the low-FODMAP diet. It was designed as a dietary approach to help treat people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The name is an acronym for certain carbohydrates found in common foods.

This diet calls for a short-term restriction of FODMAP foods that may contribute to IBS symptoms, including gas and bloating.

After the restriction (or elimination) phase, you would slowly start to introduce high-FODMAP foods back in your diet. This approach makes it possible to to find out which FODMAP foods are still a problem and need to be avoided.

Summary

It's normal for the body to produce gas, but some people may want to avoid the discomfort or inconvenience that gas causes. Others may have a medical condition, like IBS, that makes it even more important to know which foods are an issue.

It helps to know the foods listed here may be what give you gas. At the same time, most of these foods are part of a healthy diet and give you real nutritional benefits. You can reduce gas by knowing which ones cause you trouble, and avoiding or limiting these foods in your diet. Ask your healthcare provider to help you find the right approach.

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