When you hear "citric acid," there's a good chance you equate it with citric acid fruits such as lemons and limes, especially since they 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?
Fruits high in citric acid include lemons, limes and oranges.
Citric Acid Fruits
Naturally occurring citric acid is most prevalent in citric acid fruits and juices, according to the University of Wisconsin Department of Clinical Nutrition Services. Topping the list of most citric acid are lemons and limes.
A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences, defines citrus fruits as those that contain a sufficient amount of citric acid and are classified as acid fruits. Some of the more common citric acid fruits include lemon, limes, oranges, grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple. Sub-acid fruits, which are slightly or moderately acidic or sour include mango, apricot, peach, grapes, raisins, apples and pears.
On the opposite end of the citric acid spectrum are foods without citric acid, and more specifically, fruits including bananas, coconuts and avocados.
Citric acid fruits like oranges, lemons and limes also pack a decent amount of vitamin C. This is great news, especially since the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points out that vitamin C is well-known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system, maintaining healthy bones, teeth, skin and cartilage and as an antioxidant.
To get the benefits of citric acid and vitamin C, grab an orange. The USDA lists approximately 68 milligrams as the amount of vitamin C in one orange. Lemons weigh in at 30.7 milligrams and a lime has about 19.5 milligrams.
Read more: Is Citric Acid Bad for You?
Citric Acid Uses
Citric acid is also found in packaged foods and drinks, canned and jarred foods, cosmetics and personal care products and cleaning products. Other citric acid uses include providing tartness to foods like candy, jams and jellies and as an acidulant in beverages, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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.
The University of Wisconsin Department of Clinical Nutrition Services, often recommends supplementing with citric acid to help prevent kidney stones. While pharmacological doses of citric acid are an effective way to treat stones, they suggest increasing your intake of citric acid fruits and using lemon and lime juice as much as possible, with the goal of consuming 4 ounces of lemon juice a day.
Benefits of Eating Fruit
Fruit, in general, is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and many other important nutrients. In fact, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says that a diet rich in fruits (and vegetables) can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce digestive problems and prevent some types of cancer.
Additionally, many fruits are high in dietary fiber, which helps to relieve constipation and lowers cholesterol levels. The Mayo Clinic says the daily fiber recommendation for adults, aged 50 or younger is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, and for adults 51 and older, men need 30 grams and women 21 grams.
There are several ways to increase your intake of fruit throughout the day including:
- Add fruits like berries and bananas to smoothies
- Top your favorite cereal or oatmeal with seasonal fruit like strawberries
- Include a fruit salad as a side with a high-protein meal
- Freeze grapes and eat as a crunchy snack
- Make fruit kabobs on the grill
- University of Wisconsin Department of Clinical Nutrition Services: "Citric Acid and Kidney Stones"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "CFR Code of Federal Regulations Title 21"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Citric Acid"
- International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences: "Quantitative Assessment of Juice Content, Citric Acid and Sugar Content in Oranges, Sweet Lime, Lemon and Grapes Available in Fresh Fruit Market of Quetta City"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "How Vitamin C Supports a Healthy Immune System"
- USDA: "Oranges, Raw, Florida"
- USDA: "Lemons"
- USDA: "Limes"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vegetables and Fruits"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Health Diet"