High acid in the stomach can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease. The condition is characterized by persistent heartburn, a burning in the chest or abdomen and tissue damage due to prolonged exposure of the lining of the esophagus to stomach acid. A number of factors affect the acid level in your stomach, including your diet, so you may decide to go on a low-acid diet, especially avoiding citrus fruits. In this case, you should also take into account that other fruits can be just as acidic as citrus.
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No Time for Lime
The pH scale is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. The pH scale is from zero to 14, zero being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. Pure water has a neutral pH of 7.0. While the pH levels of different fruits vary depending on their nutrient content, lemons and limes generally have the lowest pH -- they are the most acidic fruit. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, limes are highest in acid with a pH of 1.8 to 2, while lemons are also very acidic with a pH of 2.2 to 2.4. That explains why it burns when you accidentally squirt lemon or lime in your eye when squeezing it into a drink.
Citrus fruits other than lemons and limes tend to range from 3 to 4 on the pH scale. They are generally acidic and should be avoided by those who have GERD. Grapefruit is usually more acidic than oranges; grapefruit ranges from 3.0 to 3.3 on the pH scale, while oranges range from 3.1 to 4.1. Tangerines are usually less acidic than other citrus fruits with a pH of 4.
Other Problematic Fruits
The pH levels in some fruits may be as acidic as some citrus fruits. For example, pomegranates have a pH of 3.0. Apples and apricots can range anywhere from 3 to 4, while nectarines are 3.9, peaches are 3.4 to 3.6, mangoes are 3.9 to 4.6 and stewed quince is 3.1 to 3.3. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries range between 3 to 3.7. Other fruits with a wide range of pH levels may be as acidic as citrus as well. For example, grapes are 3.4 to 4.5 on the pH scale; pineapples, 3.3 to 5.2; plums, 2.8 to 4.6; and prunes, 3.1 to 5.4.
Although you should avoid high-acid fruits if you have problems stemming from stomach acid, you can still eat low-acid fruits as part of a healthy diet. Less acidic fruits still have a pH of less than 7 with the exception of cantaloupe, which has a pH of 6.17 to 7.13. Bananas, dates and other melons such as watermelon and honey dew vary in acidity but have a pH of 5 or higher. Leading a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, lowering your total fat intake, losing weight if needed and avoiding other irritants also help to prevent heartburn and GERD. Always speak with your doctor and dietitian if you are unsure what fruits and other foods to eat or if you don't know what is causing your discomfort.