Which fruits have citric acid as a component of their composition. Citric acid is one of the most common acids found in fruits, and there are many health benefits to consuming citric acid. It’s a natural preservative (just look at something like sour Patch Kids or Sour Patch Kids suckers, which last for years), has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and can help boost your vitamin C.
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 up nuclear waste.
What Fruits Have Citric Acid?
Fruits high in citric acid include lemons, limes and oranges.
Lemons and limes are vibrant citrus fruits used in many dishes, beverages and desserts.
They’re also some of the main, naturally-occurring sources of citric acid, a sour-tasting component of citrus fruits.
There’s a good chance you equate “citric acid” with citrus fruits like lemons and limes. And your association would be right, as these fruits are known to have the highest quantity of this naturally occurring substance.
But did you know you can also find it in other fruits, like grapefruit and pineapple?
Citric Acid Fruits
Wondering what fruits have citric acid?
Lemon and lime juice, both from the fresh fruit and from juice concentrates, provide more citric acid per liter than any other type of citrus-based juice, per February 2009 research in the Journal of Endourology.
Citrus fruits are those that contain a sufficient amount of citric acid and are classified as acid fruits, per a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences.
Some of the more common citric acid fruits include lemon, limes, oranges, grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple.
The citric acid list below lists fruits that contain the substance:
Apricots and Citric Acid
The amount of citric acid in apricots varies depending on whether you’re eating fresh or dried versions of the fruit.
While dried fruits are generally a more concentrated source of nutrients, this isn’t the case when it comes to citric acid, according to early September 2008 research in European Food Research and Technology.
Sub-acid fruits, which are slightly or moderately acidic or sour include:
On the opposite end of the citric acid spectrum are foods without citric acid. These fruits include:
Citric acid fruits like oranges, lemons and limes also pack a decent amount of vitamin C — though it’s important to know that citric acid and vitamin C are not the same. Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system and maintains healthy bones, teeth, skin and cartilage, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Natural citric acid has been shown to have antioxidant activity, per a December 2015 study in Chemistry Central Journal. The highest natural citric acid content can be found in lemons and limes.
Lemon juice boasts slightly more citric acid than does lime juice, according to the research in the Journal of Endourology. Lemon juice contains 1.44 grams of citric acid per ounce, while lime juice contains 1.38 grams of citric acid per ounce.
Artificial Citric Acid
Citric acid is a popular ingredient in many commercial products, though this type of citric acid is usually not from natural sources.
Manufactured citric acid is one of the most commonly used food additives; it can enhance flavor, boost acidity and preserve ingredients, per the FDA.
Citric acid is also used to provide tartness to foods like candy, jams and jellies and as an acidulant in beverages, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Beyond the food and beverage industry, citric acid is also used in pharmaceutical and dietary supplements and cleaning agents, per n August 2018 study in Toxicology Repots.
The FDA identifies citric acid as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), which means the FDA has determined it is safe for use as a food additive.
Citric Acid and Kidney Stones
Citric acid isn’t a vitamin or mineral and it isn’t essential, but it does offer some health benefits.
As an antioxidant, citric acid may help prevent or delay damage to cells.
But citric acid’s best-known use may be to help prevent kidney stones. Getting more citric acid in your diet from foods may help prevent the formation of kidney stones as well as help break up the ones you may already have, according to the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.
What Is Citric Acid, and Is It Bad for You?
Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits, especially lemons and limes. It’s what gives them their tart, sour taste.
A manufactured form of citric acid is commonly used as an additive in food, cleaning agents, and nutritional supplements.
However, this manufactured form differs from what’s found naturally in citrus fruits.
For this reason, you may wonder whether it’s good or bad for you.
This article explains the differences between natural and manufactured citric acid, and explores its benefits, uses, and safety.
What is citric acid?
Citric acid was first derived from lemon juice by a Swedish researcher in 1784
The odorless and colorless compound was produced from lemon juice until the early 1900s when researchers discovered that it could also be made from the black mold Aspergillus niger, which creates citric acid when it feeds on sugar
Because of its acidic, sour-tasting nature, citric acid is predominantly used as a flavoring and preserving agent, especially in soft drinks and candies.
It’s also used to stabilize or preserve medicines and as a disinfectant.
Citric acid is a compound originally derived from lemon juice. It’s produced today from a specific type of mold and used in a variety of applications.
Natural food sources
Citrus fruits and their juices are the best natural sources of citric acid
In fact, the word citric originates from the Latin word citrus
Examples of citrus fruits include:
Other fruits also contain citric acid but in lesser amounts. These include:
Beverages or food products that contain these fruits — such as ketchup in the case of tomatoes — also contain citric acid.
While not naturally occurring, citric acid is also a byproduct of cheese, wine, and sourdough bread production.
The citric acid listed in the ingredients of foods and supplements is manufactured — not what’s naturally found in citrus fruits
This is because producing this additive from citrus fruits is too expensive, and the demand far exceeds the supply.
Lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits are the predominant natural sources of citric acid. Other fruits that contain much smaller amounts of it include certain berries, cherries, and tomatoes.
Artificial sources and uses
The characteristics of citric acid make it an important additive for a variety of industries.
Food and beverages use an estimated 70% of manufactured citric acid, pharmaceutical and dietary supplements use 20%, and the remaining 10% goes into cleaning agents
Manufactured citric acid is one of the most common food additives in the world.
It’s used to boost acidity, enhance flavor, and preserve ingredients
Sodas, juices, powdered beverages, candies, frozen foods, and some dairy products often contain manufactured citric acid.
It’s also sometimes added to canned fruits and vegetables to protect against botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by the toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum bacterium.
Medicines and dietary supplements
Citric acid is an industrial staple in medicines and dietary supplements.
It’s added to medicines to help stabilize and preserve the active ingredients and used to enhance or mask the taste of chewable and syrup-based medications
Mineral supplements, such as magnesium and calcium, may also contain citric acid (in the form of citrate) to enhance absorption.
Disinfecting and cleaning
Citric acid is a useful disinfectant against a variety of bacteria and viruses
A test-tube study showed that it may treat or prevent human norovirus, a leading cause of foodborne illness
Citric acid is commercially sold as a general disinfectant and cleaning agent for removing soap scum, hard water stains, lime, and rust.
It’s viewed as a safer alternative to conventional disinfectant and cleaning products, such as quat and chlorine bleach
Citric acid is a versatile additive for food, beverages, medicines, and dietary supplements, as well as cleaning and disinfecting products.
Health benefits and body uses
Citric acid has many impressive health benefits and functions.
Citrate — a closely related molecule of citric acid — is the first molecule that forms during a process called the citric acid cycle.
Also known as the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) or Krebs cycle, these chemical reactions in your body help transform food into usable energy
Humans and other organisms derive the majority of their energy from this cycle.
Enhances nutrient absorption
Supplemental minerals are available in a variety of forms.
But not all forms are created equal, as your body uses some more effectively.
Citric acid enhances the bioavailability of minerals, allowing your body to better absorb them
For example, calcium citrate doesn’t require stomach acid for absorption. It also has fewer side effects — such as gas, bloating, or constipation — than another form called calcium carbonate
Thus, calcium citrate is a better option for people with less stomach acid, such as older adults.
Similarly, magnesium in the citrate form is absorbed more completely and more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate
What Foods are High in Citric Acid?
Citric acid tastes exceedingly sour and sharp, eliciting a puckering sensation. It occurs naturally in some foods, especially fruits. The food industry purposefully adds it to other foods during production, mainly because it acts as an effective preservative, deterring browning and spoilage. Commercially-produced citric acid is typically concocted by combining sugar, molasses or dextrose with a strain of mold and allowing it to ferment.
Like their name implies, citrus fruits harbor the highest concentrations of citric acid. Lemons and limes and their undiluted juices contain the most citric acid, followed by grapefruits, then oranges. Lemonade and limeade beverages and powders contain the next highest doses of citric acid of any food or drink. Concentrations of citric acid in lemonades and limeades vary by brand.
Other Fruits and Vegetables
Most all berries contain citric acid, including cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and currants. Redcurrants possess a particularly large amount of citric acid, to the extent that some jam recipes allow redcurrant juice as a substitute for lemon juice. Other fruits containing citric acid include pineapples and tamarinds. In general, the more tart a fruit tastes, the more citric acid it contains. Any canned fruits, citrus or otherwise, may contain citric acid – read the ingredient label to be sure. As for vegetables, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and bagged lettuces contain citric acid.
Citric acid is added to nearly all carbonated soft drinks. The largest amounts are added to fruit-flavored soft drinks, particularly the citrus-flavored varieties. Most alcoholic beverages don’t contain citric acid, with the exception of wine. Citric acid forms naturally in wine during fermentation, and is sometimes added afterward to enhance clarity.
Most all jams and fruit preserves contain citric acid. Even if the jam wasn’t made from a fruit containing citric acid, such as grapes, it is added during production to obtain the balance necessary for stabilization. Bakers use citric acid in sourdough bread to give it that sour taste, often referring to it as “sour salt.” Other sources of citric acid include sherbet, fruit-flavored yogurt, sour candies, vitamin C supplements and some cheeses.
What Different Acids Are in a Tomato?
Tomatoes are actually citrus fruits, although they are cultivated and typically eaten as vegetables. As such, tomatoes contain relatively high levels of organic acids, such as citric acid, which strongly influence their flavors. The acid contents of tomatoes vary widely and depend on many factors, although certain acids are always more predominate than others.
Organic acids are natural acids that contribute to the sourness of fruit, vegetables and other foods. As a result, the more organic acids a food contains the lower its pH value, which is a measure of acidity. Foods with a pH value less than 7 are acidic, and tomatoes have a pH range of between 4.0 and 4.6. Many other nutrients in food that are called acids, such as amino acids and fatty acids, are not considered organic acids because they don’t contribute sourness and they don’t impact pH levels to any great extent. Overall, organic acids comprise about 15 percent of the dry content of fresh tomatoes, although their specific ratios vary according to species, ripeness, growing conditions, handling and storage.
Citric acid is the most abundant organic acid in fresh tomatoes and it comprises about 9 percent of their dry weight. Citric acid is a natural antimicrobial and preservative because it deters the growth of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. The longer a tomato ripens on the vine, the less acidic it is because citric acid slowly degrades with time. Interestingly, varieties of tomatoes with naturally higher citric acid levels do not usually taste more sour because they have more glucose sugar to balance the tangy flavor.
The next most prevalent organic acid in fresh tomatoes is malic acid and it comprises about 4 percent of their dry weight. Malic acid contributes tartness to tomatoes; it’s actually about 14 percent more sour than citric acid, but it has less influence on taste because of its much lower concentration.
Ascorbic acid, also called vitamin C, is the next most prevalent organic acid in fresh tomatoes, comprising about 0.5 percent of their dry weight. In more practical terms, a medium-size fresh tomato contains about 10 milligrams of ascorbic acid, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The recommended daily requirement of ascorbic acid for adults ranges between 75 and 120 milligrams depending on gender and pregnancy, so tomatoes are a relatively good source, but not as rich as other citrus fruit such as lemons, grapefruits or oranges. Ascorbic acid boosts immune system function and is needed to make collagen — the elastic-like fibers in skin and other connective tissues. Like most other organic acids, ascorbic acid also displays antimicrobial properties.
What Are the Acid Levels of Different Citrus Fruits?
All citrus fruits contain ascorbic acid, also called vitamin C, and are considered acidic fruit. The higher the ascorbic acid content, the better the taste and quality of the fruit. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and other citrus fruits are among the most detoxifying foods and also contain other important nutrients such as vitamin A. Citrus fruits also contain citric acid and pantothenic acid, which is a B vitamin that helps to oxidize fats, carbohydrates and some amino acids.
Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, has a chemical makeup of C6H8O6. The amount of ascorbic acid in citrus fruit depends on several factors. When fruit such as oranges are picked late in their season, the concentration of ascorbic acid is lower than in fruit picked earlier. Cultural practices, such as how much water and fertilizer the tree received during its growing season, also affect ascorbic acid content. For example, when trees are given fertilizers that are high in nitrogen, the fruit will have a lower acid content. Temperature also affects ascorbic acid content. When citrus fruit is grown in places that have cooler nights, vitamin C content is higher than in fruits grown in tropical locations. The fruit is not the only place where ascorbic acid is found in citrus fruits–up to 75 percent is located in the peel.
Citric acid has a chemical makeup of C6H8O7, one more oxygen atom than ascorbic acid. It is found in all citrus fruits and some other foods. Lemons and limes have the highest citric acid content of the citrus fruits. Citric acid is a white powder at room temperature and then it crystallizes when added to hot water. It is added to processed food products such as fruit- flavored candies, soft drinks and sourdough breads because it helps to enhance their tart flavors.