What Fruits have acid include citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and limes. Other fruits that also contain acid are cranberries, apricots, apples, peaches, and plums. The amount of acid in these fruits varies–some more than others. The list below contains fruits that have high acid contents.
What foods and drinks contain acid and why it spells trouble for our oral health
When hearing the word ‘acid’ we might be likely to recall the various chemicals we saw in glass bottles in science class at school. Or maybe we think of it as the thing that can cause heartburn and indigestion. However, acids also play an important role in our oral health.
While most of our diet is made up of things with generally low acidity, there are several foods and drinks that are high enough in acid to cause a problem. High acidity foods and drinks can have serious consequences for our enamel and are the cause of dental erosion.
How acid affects our mouth
Acid is a problem for our teeth as it weakens the enamel of our teeth, leaving them vulnerable to damage. Every time we eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on our teeth becomes softer for a short while and it loses some of its mineral content.
Our saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity and get our mouth back to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, our mouth does not get the chance to recover. This could result in slowly losing our enamel.
Enamel is the hard, protective coating of our tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. When the enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed, which may lead to pain and sensitivity.
The most common types of acid in our food and drink are carbonic acids, citric acids and phosphoric acids. These are the acids that weaken our enamel, leading to dental erosion.
The main culprits when it comes to acidic foods and drinks are the two Fs: Fizz and Fruit.
‘Fizziness’ is often a tell-tale sign of an acidic drink. The most common of these are fizzy drinks, sodas, pops and carbonated drinks. It is important to remember that even the ‘diet’ brands are still harmful. Even flavoured fizzy waters can have an effect if drunk in large amounts, as they contain weak acids which can harm our teeth.
Some alcohol is also acidic. Beer, cider, prosecco, white wine and alcopops are all example of alcoholic drinks that are highly erosive for our teeth.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says: “The best way for us to avoid the damage caused by fizzy drinks is to simply limit our exposure to them. Only having acidic drinks at mealtimes is a great way to reduce the amount to which our mouth is under an acid attack.
“Another tip is to swallow our drink quickly, without holding it in our mouth or ‘swishing’ it around. Again, it’s all about reducing the amount of time our teeth are being exposed to acid. An alternative is to use a straw. This helps drinks go to the back of our mouth and avoids long contact with our teeth.”
Dr Soha Dattani, Director Scientific & Professional Affairs at GSK Consumer Healthcare says: “The drinks market is full of products which are high in acidity and that can play havoc on the enamel of our teeth. As consumers, this often makes it difficult for us to make healthy choices when choosing our drinks. This is true whether we’re in a supermarket, a restaurant, attending events or socialising.
“Plain, still water is the best drink for our teeth. Milk is also good because it helps to neutralise acids in our mouth.”
Fruit forms an integral part of a healthy balanced diet. However, many fruits contain citric acid which can encourage dental erosion.
The worst offenders are citrus fruits. These have low pH levels, which means they are acidic. The most acidic fruits are lemons, limes, plums, grapes, grapefruits and blueberries. Pineapples, oranges, peaches and tomatoes are also high in acid.
It would be a mistake to remove these from our diet – after all, they are really nutritious and our body needs them. For our teeth, there are a few things we can do to limit the harm caused by fruits.
Dr Nigel Carter adds: “The first thing we can do, much as with fizzy drinks, is to keep them to mealtimes. Consuming fruit at breakfast, lunch and dinner should give our body the amount of daily portions it needs while not putting our teeth under unnecessary strain.
“Secondly, always try to consume fruit in its whole format and not as fruit juice. While most fruit contains natural sugar, many fruit juices also have added sugar. This is not good for our teeth. Whole fruit is also packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. This is often lost or found in less concentrated forms when producing a fruit juice.”
More tips and advice
The first sign of dental erosion is often having sensitive teeth. If this happens, we should go and see our dentist. During an examination the dental team look at what is causing the sensitivity. They will treat the affected teeth with special ‘de-sensitising’ products to help relieve the symptoms. This may include fluoride gels, rinses or varnishes.
While waiting for a dental appointment, the symptoms of dental erosion can also be managed at home.
“There are many brands of toothpaste on the market made to help remineralise softened enamel after an acid attack,” adds Dr Dattani. “Some toothpastes, like Sensodyne Pronamel are specially designed to help re-harden and protect our tooth enamel while we brush our teeth. This toothpaste also contains fluoride, which is really important for protecting our teeth against tooth decay. Brushing should be done for two minutes, twice a day.
“When we then see our dentist, they’ll be able to advise which type of toothpaste is best for our needs.”
Which foods are acidic?
Contrary to popular belief, acidity isn’t an inherently harmful quality. In fact, digestive enzymes in the stomach require an acidic environment to properly function. Furthermore, there is no evidence indicating eating foods that are higher in acidity leads to increased acidity in the stomach, blood, or the body as a whole. That being said, some foods are naturally acidic, while others cause the body to form acid. There are a wide range of foods that have higher amounts of acid, such as citrus fruits and coffee, while foods such as meat and dairy can help the body release acid. Ready for more explanation and examples? Keep reading!
Let’s start off with defining acidity — acidity is the level of acid in a substance and it is ranked using the pH scale. The pH scale is a quantitative measure that denotes the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid using a range from 0 to 14. A pH value less than 7.0 indicates acidity, while a PH value greater than 7.0 indicates an alkaline base. A 7.0 on the pH scale is a neutral measurement, meaning that a substance is neither acidic nor alkaline. Water, for example, has a neutral pH level.
Now, to connect this to your question about acidic foods — acidic foods fall in the acidic range of the pH scale (0.0 – 6.9) but they’re distinctly different from acid-forming foods, which are foods that create an acidic environment during digestion. Acidic foods usually contain carbonic acids, citric acids, or phosphoric acids. Some common examples include:
- Fruits (especially citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and grapefruit)
- Soft drinks such as sodas
- Sports drinks
- Alcohol beverages
Acid-forming foods, on the other hand, don’t necessarily have low pH levels, but they release amino acids when they’re digested. Such common examples include:
- Meat (both fresh and processed)
- Grains such as cereals
Presently, there is no evidence indicating that acidic foods are harmful to the stomach. In fact, your stomach — which contains hydrochloric acid, a substance with a pH value between 0.1 and 1.0 — is likely much more acidic than the foods you may already eat. While evidence indicates the stomach remains unaffected by acidic substances, some foods may affect the kidneys if they have a high potential renal acid load (also known as PRAL). PRAL estimates the amount of acid that is produced when foods are digested; therefore, if a food has a high PRAL value, more acid is created in the body. In response, the kidneys work to balance the body’s overall pH level and maintain the appropriate acidity level. Although there are some diets that focus on the exclusion of high PRAL value foods to avoid acid production, there is ultimately no scientific consensus as to whether those who eliminate said foods have improved health outcomes.
You mentioned that you can’t eat acidic foods. Considering how many foods contain acid or produce acid, it may be helpful for you when thinking about your diet where this information came from. Is this something you discovered through your experiences with acidic food? Did your health care provider advise you to eliminate them? Did you hear about this from another source? Thinking about where you heard this information and for what reason you’re cutting them out may be useful for you as you determine what foods best support your body. For most people, unless they have a condition or diagnosis that restricts certain foods or food groups, eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods, whether they’re acidic or alkaline, can help ensure all of their nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are being met. If you’re having trouble figuring out which foods that are acidic or acid-producing make sense or not for your eating patterns, you may find it helpful to meet with a registered dietitian to help you with more tailored dietary suggestions.
Food Acidity: Acid Content of Various Fruits and Vegetables and How to Preserve or Can Them at Home
Acid foods are foods that contain enough acid to have a pH of 4.6 or lower. Acidic foods can be processed safely in a boiling water canner, usually without added acid (lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid). This is necessary to control botulinum bacteria. Acidity may be natural, as in most fruits, or added, as in pickled food. Low-acid canned foods are not acidic enough to prevent the
growth of these bacteria. Acid foods contain enough acid to block their growth, or destroy them more rapidly when heated. The term “pH” is a measure of acidity; the lower its value, the more acid the food. The acidity level in foods can be increased by adding lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar.
Low Acid Foods
Low-acid foods have pH values higher than 4.6 up to 6.9. (non-acidic, or alkaline foods have pH values of 7.0 or greater) .They include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes. Most mixtures of low-acid and acid foods also have pH values above 4.6 unless their recipes include enough lemon juice, citric acid, or
vinegar to make them acid foods. Acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or lower. They include fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades, and fruit butters.
Although tomatoes usually are considered an acid food, some are now known to have pH values slightly above 4.6. Figs also have pH values slightly above 4.6. Therefore, if they are to be canned as acid foods, these products must be acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower with lemon juice or citric acid. To be safe, we simply recommend always adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart of tomatoes or tomato products. Properly acidified tomatoes and figs are acid foods and can be safely processed in a boiling-water canner.
Acidity and botulism
Botulinum spores are very hard to destroy at boiling-water temperatures; the higher the canner temperature, the more easily they are destroyed. Therefore, all low-acid foods should be sanitized at temperatures of 240° to 250° F, attainable with pressure canners operated at 10 to 15 PSIG. PSIG means “pounds per square inch of pressure as measured by gauge”. The more familiar “PSI” designation is used hereafter. At temperatures of 240° to 250° F, the time needed to destroy bacteria in low-acid canned food ranges from 20 to 100 minutes.
The exact time depends on the kind of food being canned, the way it is packed into jars, and the size of jars. When it is even possible*, the time needed to safely process low-acid foods in a boiling-water canner ranges from 7 to 11 hours; the time needed to process acid foods in boiling water varies from 5 to 85 minutes. Note: * in many cases, no amount of water bath canning will kill the type of bacteria present, because the temperatures never rise high enough.
Summarizing, low acid or non-acidic foods must be:
- dried or
- canned in a pressure canner (where there is a safe recipe determined for them – there is no safe recipe for canning pumpkins and squash)
Foods can be acid because they are:
- naturally acid foods
- foods that have acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, added
- fermented foods, such as sauerkraut. During the fermentation process bacteria produce an acid.
Naturally acidic foods include most fruits, such as:
Tomatoes are borderline – and must be considered a special case, with acid added!
What Is Citric Acid?
Citric acid is a weak acid that is found naturally in all citrus fruits. If you’ve ever sunk your teeth into a lemon, you’ve tasted citric acid. Manufacturers add a man-made version of it to processed foods. Medicines with citric acid in them treat health issues like kidney stones.
Sources of Citric Acid
It’s not just sour citrus fruits that have citric acid. All plants and animals have small traces of it. Many packaged food and nonfood items, like cosmetics and cleaning products, also contain citric acid, but a manufactured version, not the type that you find in nature.
Natural sources of citric acid
Foods that are high in natural citric acid are citrus fruits, especially the juice of lemons and limes. Other fruits and vegetables also contain some natural citric acid.
These foods have the highest amounts of naturally occurring citric acid:
Artificial sources and uses of citric acid
The citric acid that’s added to food and drinks, medications, personal care products, and cleaning products is artificial.
This type of citric acid is used in:
- The food industry. Citric acid is often added to packaged food and drinks. It helps keep canned and jarred foods fresh over long periods of time. It can prevent some kinds of fresh-cut produce, like sliced apples, from turning brown. Citric acid can also help thicken foods or give them a slightly sour flavor. That’s why you might see citric acid listed as an ingredient in some ice creams, sorbets, or sodas.
- Alcohol. Citric acid can balance out the acid in a food or drink. Winemakers sometimes add it to their products to improve the taste.
- Medicines. Some creams include citric acid to help clear up skin infections. Other citric acid drugs that you take by mouth can lower the amount of acid in your urine. This can help prevent kidney stones. You might also take citric acid for metabolic acidosis, a buildup of acid inside your body.
- Supplements. Some people take calcium citrate supplements, which can help prevent kidney stones.
- Personal care products. When manufacturers mix citric acid with other ingredients, they can form a compound called “alpha hydroxy acid” that helps smooth your skin. It’s also in some cosmetics and toiletries — like lipstick, hair spray, and deodorant — to help them last longer.
- Household cleaners. Because citric acid can eat away at hard water buildup, you’ll often see it in dishwasher detergent. Other household cleaners also include it as an ingredient since it can help remove stains and odors.
- Disinfectants. Since citric acid kills some types of bacteria and viruses, you’ll find it in insect sprays, products that kill fungus or algae, hand sanitizer, and even some tissues you use to blow your nose.
- Environmental cleanup products. Citric acid can safely remove toxins from polluted soil and even clean