Acidic foods are those with a low-PH – they tend to be very tart or sour when eaten in high quantities and they can have some negative side effects. Whilst many foods vary in PH and some acidic foods do have other health-positive qualities, we might want to avoid them if we suffer from indigestion, heart burn, acid reflux or any variety of dental conditions. Or simply if we want nice teeth!
1. Orange juice
Orange juice is a favorite beverage in the UK and US, but it has a high acidity due to the high concentrations of added sugar and the fact that the orange, itself, is a highly-acidic citrus fruit. Despite the vitamins that we might get by drinking large quantities, this will damage the teeth and cause excessive sugar intake.
2. Citrus fruits: Lemons and Limes esp.
Why anyone would choose to eat lemons and limes by themselves totally escapes us: they taste acidic. However, to those who do this, it is important to remember that the concentrated juice of citrus fruits like lemon and lime are around a 2-2.5 on the Ph scale, making them incredibly acidic. These are the most acidic fruits that don’t cause serious digestive problems. Eating too many is asking for trouble.
Sour grapes or not, we should be careful consuming too many grapes as they are profoundly acidic. With an average PH in the low-3s, depending on the colour and age, grapes can cause serious damage to tooth enamel, especially among those who have been clinically-diagnosed as at risk for such problems.
Sauerkraut is a form of pickled cabbage popular in central-eastern Europe and has been paired with a variety of foods such as wurst in German culinary culture. The problem, however, is that the pickling process is already a cause for acidity and the fact that cabbage is already an acidic vegetable means that it is even more of a problem – Sauerkraut may be poor for both the teeth and the digestive system.
5. White Bread
White bread has had an awful few years in terms of publicity: refined carbohdyrates are both metabolically-unpleasant and mildly acidic. The grains that are generally used to create these products are degrading and fermenting from the start. White bread is just one example, but a variety of other foodstuffs such as flour-based cakes are also mildly acidic.
6. Pork (some cuts; processed)
Some cuts of pork are also acidic – the fattier, lower-quality cuts are associated with greater acidity content. Whilst this may suggest a slight reduction in pork, the real problem is associated with the consumption of heavily-processed “pork products” such as hot dogs. These foods are both acidic and linked to the increased chance of developing colorectal cancer.
7. Beef (processed)
As with pork, some low-quality cuts of beef, or those which are not particularly fresh or fed on low-quality feed, will be considerably higher in acidity than their healthier counterparts. Consuming heavily processed or poor-quality beef (below grade-A, for example) may mean consuming unexpected quantities of acidic food.
Alcohol is acidic by definition: alcohols are ethanol combined with sugar. Ethanol is an acid and is responsible for the alcohol content of a wide variety of alcohols, produced through the fermentation process of either fruits or grains. Fermenting causes various compounds in the original foods to break down and become acidic. There are many reasons to ditch alcohol and this is just one of them.
Vinegar is high in acetic acid, with quantities concentrations of around 3-9%. This means that excessive consumption of vinegar will not dry your veins out, but it will damage the teeth and possibly the stomach depending on the individual’s health.
10. White Wine
Wine is an alcohol and acidic by definition, but white wine is especially bad, given the concentration of fermented white grapes – the more acidic variety of grapes. The fermentation of grapes is a combination of two red flags and means we should definitely avoid white wine, even more than alcohol more generally.
11. Soft Drinks
Mass-produced, HCF-based soft drinks are common in the English-speaking world and are awful for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the full-sugar, HCF-based drinks are acidic due to the high content of refined sugar. The diet versions, however, are associated with the acidity of their sweeteners (this will depend on the specific sweetener that is used).
12. Cured Foods (vinegar-preserved: gherkins/pickles, olives etc.)
We’ve already discussed how vinegar is an incredibly acidic substance, so it is unsurprising that pickling otherwise-healthy foods in vinegar might make them more acidic. Avoid foods such as pickled eggs, olives or pickles which have been stewed in vinegar. If olives aren’t a strong enough taste without adding acid to them, you may have deeper problems!
As mentioned above, the vast majority of sweeteners are also acidic, composed of various synthetical chemicals with a low Ph (not that being synthetic is a bad thing in itself). These are contained in a wide variety of products: whilst they may generally be better for health than sugars, they are far from perfect and should be limited among those who are acid-sensitive.
A testament to the fact that not all acidic foods should be avoided, pecans are an example of a perfectly healthy food that may have negative effects on those who are worried about their dental health or acid reflux, as they are both acidic and high in fat.
Finally, it is important to avoid low-quality oils – not only are they acidic but they are highly concentrated sources of low-quality polyunsaturated oils. Canola, for example, should be reduced in the diet where possible. Focus should be placed on consuming healthier oils such as olive oil.
We’ve listed some of the most acidic foods that are commonly eaten. It is important to remember that this does not mean that we should always avoid these foods, but that we should closely monitor our intake – especially if we suffer from digestive acidity problems or dental conditions – and ensure that a proper balance of foods is consumed at any given time. Humans are slightly acidic by composition and the acidity of food does not mean that it is unhealthy or bad, simply that it is constituted by a high number of H– molecules – whilst these might affect our health they are not a fool-proof method of structuring a diet. For example, pecans are a healthy food despite their acidity.