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.
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.
The Health Benefits of Eating Fruit
In general, fruit 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. Adults should get somewhere between 25 and 38 grams of fiber every day, per the Mayo Clinic.
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, refreshing 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"
- Journal of Endourology: "Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice Products"
- Toxicology Reports: "Potential role of the common food additive manufactured citric acid in eliciting significant inflammatory reactions contributing to serious disease states: A series of four case reports"
- Chemistry Central Journal: "Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health"
- European Food Research and Technology: "Effect of drying temperature on polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity of apricots"