16 Foods That Reduce Bloating—And 8 That Cause It
Keep your digestive system humming along by eating flat-belly foods and avoiding those that cause bloat.
Bloating is totally normal and common. There are a number of factors that contribute to bloating—including eating your food too quickly and menstrual bleeding.
But some foods pack a lot of carbohydrates, often contributing to excess gas that causes your stomach to feel tight.
And if you have conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or are non-celiac gluten or lactose intolerant, then those foods can further aggravate your digestive system.
That’s because our bodies cannot digest some of the carbohydrates found in those foods. Those foods are known as FODMAP (which is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) foods.
Per the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, FODMAP foods have carbohydrates that our small intestines cannot entirely absorb. There, the undigested carbohydrates accumulate, pulling in excess gas and liquid, the culprits of bloating.
Another molecule that some bodies cannot digest is gluten, a protein that the enzymes in our bodies are unable to entirely digest. Also, foods that pack a lot of fiber, like beans and broccoli, can also cause excess gas.
If you feel uncomfortably bloated after meals, it might be time to look at the types of foods you are eating. Foods that cause bloating include:
- Broccoli, cabbage, and kale
- Salty foods
- Onions and garlic
Instead, try low-FODMAP foods that may help alleviate bloating. Foods that don’t cause bloating include:
- Carrots and spaghetti squash
- Chicken and fish
- Blueberries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries
- Yogurt with probiotics
- Kombucha and kefir
- Fennel seeds
- Peppermint and chamomile
Here’s what you need to know about the 16 foods that you should eat to reduce uncomfortable bloating and gas, as well as the eight foods you should avoid.
Worst: Broccoli, Cabbage, and Kale
Kale, broccoli, and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables and contain raffinose, or a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it. That produces gas and makes you bloat. However, eating them more often can actually help in the long run.
“Consistently eating nutrient-rich, high-fiber foods leads to having a stronger, healthier digestive system that’s less prone to bloating,” said Cynthia Sass, RD, Health contributing nutrition editor.
So keep eating the green veggies, but limit your portions. And if you absolutely can’t part ways with even a gram of kale, steam it.
“Cooking any vegetable softens the fiber and shrinks the portion as some of the water cooks out, so it takes up less space in the GI [gastrointestinal] tract,” explained Sass. It won’t eliminate or prevent bloating altogether, but it may make your veggies easier to digest.
Beans—along with lentils, soybeans, and peas— are known as gas-causing foods. Although they contain more than enough protein, they also contain sugars and fibers that our bodies can’t absorb. So when legumes reach the large intestine, your gut bacteria take the lead and feast on them. This process leads to gas, which can balloon your waist.
Combine legumes with easily digestible whole grains, like rice or quinoa. Your body will eventually get used to them.
“If you eat fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, and beans often, they won’t bother you as much as if you eat them sporadically,” noted Sass.
If you feel gassy after a few slices of cheese or a bowl of cereal with milk, you may be lactose intolerant—which means your body lacks the necessary enzymes to break down lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). When that occurs, according to a study published in 2022 in the journal Clinical Microbiology, it can cause gas to form in the GI tract, which may trigger bloating.
So before all that gas gets to you, steer clear of dairy products and opt for the many lactose-free or nondairy alternatives out there. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) also suggested the use of lactase tablets like Lactaid, which help people digest foods that contain lactose.
High in fiber, apples also contain fructose and sorbitol, sugars found in fruits that many people can’t tolerate, Sass said—which leads to gas and the inevitable puffy feeling.
Apples are a great snack, however, so don’t give up on them altogether.
“Eating apples specifically has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and respiratory problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema,” explained Sass. Eat them in moderation and separately from meals, and time your eating right.
Other fruits that bloat are pears, peaches, and prunes.
Worst: Salty Foods
Eating high-sodium foods can trigger water retention, which can balloon you up, Sass said.
Avoiding sodium isn’t as simple as not using the saltshaker, however. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90% of Americans consume more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet (2,300 milligrams per day for most people and 1,500 milligrams for adults aged 50 years or older, plus people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high risk of hypertension).
Sodium sneaks its way into most processed and packaged foods, including soups, bread, and these other surprisingly salty fast foods. That makes it very difficult to avoid. When and if you do end up eating a lot of salty food, drink a lot of water to help flush out the salt.
Worst: Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are packed with soluble fibers called fructans. The body is not incredibly good at digesting foods containing fructans, which may lead to a number of digestive issues.
Also, per the Tufts Medical Center, some people have a fructan intolerance. Similar to non-celiac gluten intolerance, when fructans ferment in the bowels, they attract water into the colon, which causes bloating and diarrhea.
Fruits, namely watermelon, often cause bloating because of their high fructose contents. Fructose is a type of naturally occurring sugar that our bodies do not easily digest, sometimes causing excess gas.
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, foods that have high fructose contents also further aggravate symptoms of IBS. Instead, try fruits that have low fructose content, such as bananas and tropical fruits.
Gluten is a protein commonly found in wheat products, like different types of bread and pasta. Our bodies cannot easily digest gluten because the enzymes in our body do not completely break down the protein. Any gluten that our bodies do not digest travels to the small intestine, where it may cause bloating in some people.
Per the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, some people who have celiac disease experience an autoimmune response—including digestive problems and headaches—after eating wheat, while others may have a non-celiac gluten intolerance. If you are sensitive to gluten, you may experience bloating after eating wheat.
People use cucumbers to reduce puffiness under their eyes—and you can eat them to do the same thing for your belly. The vegetable contains quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant that helps reduce swelling, according to Sass.
“Cucumbers have been shown to inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes,” added Sass. So slice it up and eat it as is, or swap sugary drinks with a glass of cucumber water.
Asparagus is an anti-bloating superfood: It helps you to urinate, which flushes all that excess water to relieve any discomfort and bloat.
It also contains prebiotics, which help support the growth of “good” bacteria, according to Sass. This helps maintain a healthy balance in your digestive system to prevent or reduce gas.
Finally, the vegetable contains soluble and insoluble fibers, which help promote overall digestive health.
Best: Carrots and Spaghetti Squash
Aside from cucumbers and asparagus, other vegetables that do not pack many carbohydrates include carrots and spaghetti squash.
Avoiding high-carbohydrate vegetables is key to eating healthily while also reducing bloating, so add some carrots to your daily snacks or include a side of spaghetti squash in your next dinner.
Best: Chicken and Fish
Some animal meats that pack a lot of protein, like chicken and fish, can help fend off excess gas and bloating.
Per the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, lean proteins, rather than high-fat proteins, especially promote digestive health in people who have IBS. For instance, red meats have a lot of fat, which makes your colon contract and increases bacteria in your colon.
Foods rich in potassium—like bananas, plus avocados, kiwis, oranges, and pistachios—prevent water retention by regulating sodium levels in your body and can thus reduce salt-induced bloating. Bananas also have soluble fiber, which can relieve or prevent constipation.
“Bloating can also be caused by constipation,” noted Sass. “If you’re not able to eliminate waste in the GI tract, you become ‘backed up,’ so to speak, which can lead to a bloated look.”
According to a study published in 2020 in the journal IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, papain (the enzyme in papaya) helps break down proteins in your GI system, which makes digestion easier.
Sass explained that the tropical fruit also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as fibers that support a strong digestive tract. Eat papaya whole and fresh or blended into a smoothie.
Also, tropical fruits, like pineapple, are mostly water, which combats bloating by keeping your body hydrated.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, also promotes digestive health by helping break down proteins. According to a study published in 2021 in the journal Life, bromelain is one of the most effective enzymes in terms of breaking down collagen.
Best: Blueberries, Grapes, Raspberries, and Strawberries
Other fruits that are good in moderation include blueberries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries. While those tasty gems certainly satiate a sweet tooth, it’s important not to eat so many of them.
While those fruits pack fewer carbohydrates than some others, your body does not completely absorb the carbohydrates found in fruits very efficiently. Therefore, the more fruit you eat, the more likely you are to experience excess gas and bloating.
Best: Yogurt With Probiotics
Probiotics, which are good bacteria in your gut, help regulate digestion and champion the overall health of your digestive tract. You can take probiotic supplements, but you may as well get a breakfast out of it.
So, eat your bloat away with yogurt that has active cultures. If you want to add some sweetness, use a little honey, jam, or granola.
Best: Kombucha and Kefir
In addition to yogurt, similarly fermented foods, like kombucha and kefir, can reduce excess gas and bloat.
During the fermentation process, the carbohydrates found in foods are broken down. Therefore, your small intestine does not need to do the job.
Best: Fennel Seeds
Fennel does wonders for your digestive tract—especially since you can gain benefits from multiple parts of the vegetable.
The seeds have a compound that relaxes GI spasms, which allows gas to pass and relieve bloating, according to Sass. You can also chew on the seeds directly or sip on a fennel tea at the end of a meal.
Ginger contains the digestive enzyme zingibain, which helps your digestive system break down protein. The compound potentially helps food be digested more easily, reducing bloat, gas, or constipation.
If you already feel bloated, you probably don’t want to eat—so instead, sip homemade ginger tea: Steep a few slices of sliced ginger in a mug of hot water for five to 10 minutes.
Best: Peppermint and Chamomile Teas
If you’re feeling puffy after dinner, you can sip on a hot cup of peppermint or chamomile tea. Both kinds relax GI muscles, per a study published in 2020 in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies, to help dissipate the gas that causes your stomach to bloat.
Aside from improving digestion, chamomile can also soothe and relax, which can help ease any sort of stomach discomfort.
Celery is a vegetable that is mostly water and packs a lot of potassium. According to the National Library of Medicine, potassium promotes digestive health. Celery may get rid of excess gas, decreasing bloating.
Per the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, turmeric promotes digestive health. Specifically, the herb reduces pain and inflammation in the abdominal area.
Turmeric also includes curcumin, which is the chemical that gives the herb its bright orange-yellow color. Curcumin also helps the body produce bile. That’s important because people who do not produce adequate amounts of bile may experience trapped gas, which causes bloating.
Cinnamon is a spice that packs a lot of antioxidants that get rid of excess gas. According to one study published in 2015 in the journal Pharmacognosy Research, our ancestors have traditionally used cinnamon for thousands of years to treat digestive issues, like bloating.