Foods high in FODMAP content, like garlic, onion, baked beans, rye, and more, cause digestion issues for certain groups. Try replacing high FODMAP foods with low FODMAP swaps from the same food group to determine if this diet fits.
Food is a common trigger of digestive issues. In particular, foods high in fermentable carbohydrates can cause symptoms like gas, bloating, and stomach pain in some people.
A group of these fermentable carbohydrates is known as FODMAPs. Foods can be classified as either high or low in these fermentable carbohydrates.
Restricting high FODMAP foods can remarkably relieve gut symptoms, particularly in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
This article discusses ten common foods and ingredients high in FODMAPs, along with options to replace them if they lead to digestion issues.
High FODMAP meaning
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols. These are the scientific names for carbs that may cause digestive issues.
Food is categorized as high FODMAP according to predefined cutoff levels.
Published cutoff levels suggest that a high FODMAP food contains more than one of the following carbs:
- oligosaccharides: 0.3 grams of fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), (0.2 grams for fruits and vegetables)
- disaccharides: 1.0 gram of lactose
- monosaccharides: 0.15 grams fructose in excess of glucose (0.4 grams for fruits and vegetables when fructose is the only FODMAP present)
- polyols: 0.2 grams of either mannitol or sorbitol or 0.4 total polyols
Two universities provide validated FODMAP food lists and apps — Monash University and King’s College London.
FODMAPS tend to increase water content in the small intestine, increase the production of gas through fermentation, and can lead to excess production of short-chain fatty acids.
This can result in abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and alterations in bowel habits in some individuals who eat high FODMAP foods, particularly those with IBS.
It’s important to be aware that not everyone should avoid FODMAPs. FODMAPs are beneficial for most people.
First, deciding whether restricting FODMAPs is right for you is important. This decision should be made under the guidance of a healthcare professional such as a gastroenterologist (GI), registered dietician (RD), or other specialists who can help determine if low FODMAP is the right choice. If you decide the low FODMAP diet is a good fit, watch for the following 10 foods.
List of high FODMAP foods
The following foods and ingredients are high in FODMAPs:
Wheat is one of the biggest contributors to FODMAPs in the Western diet.
This is because wheat is consumed in large quantities — not because it is a concentrated source of FODMAPs.
Compared to the other nine sources discussed in this article, wheat contains one of the lowest FODMAPs by weight.
For this reason, foods that contain wheat as a minor ingredient, such as thickeners and flavorings, are considered low FODMAP.
Common wheat sources include bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and pastries.
Suggested low FODMAP alternatives for wheat:
- brown rice
Summary: Wheat is the main source of FODMAPs in the Western diet. However, it can be replaced with other low-FODMAP whole grains.
Garlic is one of the most concentrated sources of FODMAPs.
Unfortunately, restricting garlic in your diet is difficult because it adds to many sauces, gravies, and flavorings.
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In processed food, garlic may be listed among the ingredients as a flavoring or natural flavor. Therefore, you must avoid these ingredients if you follow a strict low-FODMAP diet.
Fructans are the main type of FODMAP in garlic.
However, the quantity of fructans depends on whether the garlic is fresh or dried, as dried garlic contains about three times as many fructans as fresh garlic.
Despite being high in FODMAPs, garlic is associated with many health benefits. This is why it should only be avoided in FODMAP-sensitive people.
Suggested low FODMAP alternatives for garlic:
- garlic-infused oil
- garlic scape powder
- mustard seeds
Summary: Garlic is one of the most concentrated sources of FODMAPs. However, garlic has many health benefits and should only be restricted to FODMAP-sensitive people.
Onions are another concentrated source of fructans.
Like garlic, onion is commonly used to flavor a wide range of dishes, making it difficult to restrict.
Shallots are one of the highest sources of fructans, while a Spanish onion is one of the lowest sources.
While different varieties of onions contain different amounts of FODMAPs, all onions are considered high FODMAP.
Suggested low FODMAP alternatives for onion:
- green tops of onions and scallions (not the bulb, which is high in FODMAPs)
- leek leaves (not the bulb, which is high in FODMAPs)
Summary: Different onion varieties contain varied amounts of FODMAPs, but all contain high amounts.
All fruits contain FODMAP fructose.
But interestingly, not all fruits are considered high in FODMAPs. This is because some fruits contain less fructose than others.
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Also, some fruits contain high amounts of glucose, a non-FODMAP sugar. This is important because glucose helps your body absorb fructose.
This is why fruits high in fructose and glucose do not typically cause gut symptoms. It’s also why only fruits with more fructose than glucose are considered high FODMAP.
Nevertheless, even low FODMAP fruits can cause gut symptoms if consumed in large quantities. This has to do with the total fructose load in your gut.
Therefore, sensitive people are encouraged to eat only one portion of fruit per sitting, or approximately 3 ounces (80 grams).
High FODMAP fruits include:
- blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, depending on the quantity
Low FODMAP fruits include:
- unripe bananas
Summary: All fruits contain FODMAP fructose. However, some fruits have less fructose and can be enjoyed in single portions throughout the day.
Some vegetables are high in FODMAPs.
Vegetables contain the most diverse range of FODMAPs. This includes fructans, GOS, fructose, mannitol, and sorbitol.
Furthermore, several vegetables contain more than one type of FODMAP. For example, asparagus contains fructans and fructose.
It’s important to remember that vegetables are part of a nutritious diet, so there’s no need to stop eating them. Instead, switch out high-FODMAP vegetables for low-FODMAP ones.
High FODMAP vegetables include:
- Brussels sprouts
- butternut squash
- globe and Jerusalem artichokes
- red bell pepper
- snow peas
Low FODMAP vegetables include:
- bean sprouts
- bok choy
- choy sum
- collard greens
- daikon radish
- green bell pepper
- tomato (cooked or canned)
Summary: Vegetables contain a diverse range of FODMAPs. However, many vegetables are naturally low in FODMAPs.
6. Legumes and pulses
Legumes and pulses are notorious for causing excess gas and bloating, partly attributed to their high FODMAP content.
The key FODMAP in legumes and pulses is called GOS.
How they’re prepared affects the GOS content of legumes and pulses. For instance, canned lentils contain half the GOS that boiled lentils do.
GOS is water-soluble, meaning some leaches out of the lentils and into the liquid.
Nonetheless, even canned legumes are a significant source of FODMAPs, though small portions (typically 1/4 cup per serving) can be included in a low FODMAP diet.
Legumes and pulses are good protein sources for vegetarians but are not the only choices. There are many other low FODMAP, protein-rich options.
High FODMAP legumes and pulses include:
- baked beans
- black beans
- black-eyed peas
- broad beans
- butter beans
- fava beans
- kidney beans
- pinto beans
- split peas
Low FODMAP, vegetarian sources of protein include:
- most nuts and seeds
Summary: Legumes and pulses are notorious for causing excess gas and bloating. This is related to their high FODMAP content, which their preparation can alter.
Sweeteners can be a hidden source of FODMAPs, as adding sweeteners to a low FODMAP food can increase its overall FODMAP content.
To avoid these hidden sources, check the ingredients list on packaged foods.
Alternatively, if you’re in the U.K., the King’s College low FODMAP app allows you to scan the barcodes on packaged foods to detect high FODMAP foods.
High FODMAP sweeteners include:
- agave nectar
- high fructose corn syrup
- malt extract
- added polyols in sugar-free mints and chewing gums (check the labels for sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or isomalt)
Low FODMAP sweeteners include:
- maple syrup
- most artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and stevia
Summary: High FODMAP sweeteners can increase a food’s FODMAP content. To avoid these hidden sources, check the ingredients list on packaged foods.
8. Other grains
Wheat is not the only grain high in FODMAPs. Other grains like rye contain nearly twice the amount of FODMAPs as wheat.
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That being said, some types of rye bread, such as sourdough rye bread, can be low in FODMAPs.
This is because the process of making sourdough involves a fermentation step, during which some of its FODMAPs are broken down into digestible sugars.
This step has been shown to reduce its fructan content by more than 70%.
This reinforces the notion that specific processing methods can alter the FODMAP content of food.
High FODMAP grains include:
Low FODMAP grains include:
- brown rice
Summary: Wheat is not the only high FODMAP grain. However, different processing methods can reduce the FODMAP content of grains.
Dairy products are the main source of FODMAP lactose.
However, not all dairy foods contain lactose.
This includes many hard and matured kinds of cheese, as much of their lactose is lost during cheesemaking.
But it’s important to remember that some cheeses contain added flavorings, such as garlic and onion, that make them high in FODMAPs.
High FODMAP dairy foods include:
- quark (over 6.35 ounces)
- ricotta (over 7.05 ounces)
- paneer (over 7.76 ounces)
Low FODMAP dairy foods include:
- cheddar cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- feta cheese
- sour cream
- whipped cream
- lactose-free milk
Summary: Dairy is the main source of FODMAP lactose, but many dairy foods are naturally low in lactose.
Beverages are another key source of FODMAPs.
This is not exclusive to beverages made from high FODMAP ingredients. Beverages made from low FODMAP ingredients can also be high in FODMAPs.
Orange juice is one example. While oranges are low FODMAP, many oranges are used to make one glass of orange juice, and their FODMAP content is additive.
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Furthermore, some types of tea and alcohol are also high in FODMAPs.
It’s also important to consider that some non-dairy milk is high in FODMAPs. Alternative options like oat and soy milk are high in FODMAPs.
High FODMAP beverages include:
- apple juice
- chai tea
- chamomile tea
- coconut water
- fennel tea
- oat milk
- orange juice
- soy milk
- dessert wine
Low FODMAP beverages include:
- black tea
- green tea
- peppermint tea
- rooibos tea
- white tea
- red wine
- white wine
Summary: Many beverages are high in FODMAPs, and this is not limited to beverages made from high FODMAP ingredients.
Should everyone avoid FODMAPs?
Only a small subset of people in the general population should avoid FODMAPs.
FODMAPs offer health-promoting benefits for most people. Many FODMAPs function like prebiotics, meaning they promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.
Nonetheless, a surprising number of people are sensitive to FODMAPs, particularly those with IBS.
Moreover, scientific studies have shown that around 70% of people with IBS achieve adequate relief of their symptoms on a low FODMAP diet.
Moreover, pooled data from numerous studies suggest that the diet effectively manages abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea in people with IBS.
A low FODMAP diet is not intended to be a long-term avoidance diet.
Rather, it’s meant to be used as a diagnostic tool to identify which foods an individual can tolerate and which they can’t. This allows people to remove foods that trigger digestive symptoms while adding back in FODMAP foods that they can tolerate.
It should be noted that just because one type of FODMAP causes symptoms in an individual does not mean all FODMAPs will cause symptoms.
A low FODMAP diet with controlled reintroduction can help you determine which FODMAPs cause symptoms.
Summary: FODMAPs should only be restricted to a small population subset. For everyone else, FODMAPs should be readily included in the diet, given their beneficial role in gut health.
Working with a dietitian
Following a low FODMAP diet can help relieve digestive symptoms in some individuals. However, the diet is very restrictive. It’s important to work toward getting all the nutrients you need.
If you think you may benefit from avoiding high FODMAP foods, consider working with an RD, if possible. They can explain the different phases of the low FODMAP diet and help you to implement it safely.
An RD can help you eliminate all high FODMAP foods that could be causing symptoms, ensure you’re getting enough nutrients while on the low FODMAP diet, and assess which FODMAPs are causing symptoms. They can also help you wean off the diet when appropriate.
Studies suggest a low FODMAP diet is most successful when implemented and managed with an RD.
Many commonly consumed foods are high in FODMAPs, but they should only be restricted by people who are sensitive to them.
If you’re sensitive to FODMAPS, swap out high FODMAP foods for low FODMAP options from the same food group. Following a restrictive diet can help reduce your risk of nutritional deficiencies.