Your Go-To List of Low-Acid Fruits and Vegetables

Cucumbers are considered low-acid fruits, as are avocados.
Image Credit: Arx0nt/iStock/GettyImages

If you have gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux or GERD, your doctor may recommend eating low-acid foods, which can help keep acid reflux at bay.

Even if you're not managing a specific health condition, many low-acid foods are considered healthy picks (as they're primarily fruits and vegetables) and can be valuable to your daily diet.

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While there are health benefits to eating non-acidic foods, especially if you have GERD or kidney disease, that doesn't mean you should avoid acidic foods altogether. A food's pH value will determine whether a food is acidic or non-acidic (neutral or more alkaline) and where it lies within the spectrum.

What Is the pH Scale?

The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, according to the U.S. General Survey (USGS). Scientists use a logarithmic scale to measure pH levels, which generally range from 0 to 14.

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  • Basic/Alkaline:​ A pH of more than 7 indicates that the subject is basic.
  • Acidic:​ A pH of less than 7 indicates that the subject is acidic. The closer to 0, the more acidic.
  • Neutral:​ A pH of 7 indicates that the subject is neutral.

While pure water is neutral, neither acidic nor basic, the fluid produced in food can vary along the scale. Any food may measure acidic but may produce an alkaline reaction in your body. So if you're seeking a lower acid diet, you want to look for alkaline-producing foods.

The human body produces fluids that also vary along the pH scale, according to October 2011 research in the ​Journal of Environmental and Public Health​. Bile, for example, is typically 7.6 to 8.8 along the pH scale, so it's neutral to slightly alkaline. Your skin is slightly acidic, between 4 and 6.5. Urine ranges from 4.6 to 8, depending on what you eat, while gastric fluid, which breaks down protein, is 1.35 to 3.5, which means it's pretty acidic.

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Tip

Low-acid foods just happen to be mostly fruits and vegetables. And a food’s pH may give you a good indication of its acidity. But there are exceptions: Lemon has a pH closer to 2 (acidic) yet has buffering (alkaline-forming) properties, per an August 2019 review in ​Nefrologia.

Low-Acid Fruits

Don't get confused: Low-acid foods will still fall on the "acidic" side of the pH scale. The greater the pH number, the less acidic the fruit.

  • Avocados (pH 6.27-6.58)
  • Persimmon, Fuyu (pH 6.25)
  • Cantaloupe (pH 6.13-6.58)
  • Olives, black (pH 6.00-7.00)
  • Honeydew melon (pH 6.00-6.67)
  • Mangoes, ripe (pH 5.80-6.00)
  • Dates (pH 5.49)
  • Honeydew (pH 5.42)
  • Papaya (pH 5.20-6.00)
  • Watermelon (pH 5.18-5.60)
  • Pear, Bosc (pH 5.15)
  • Figs, Calamyrna (pH 5.05-5.98)
  • Pumpkin (pH 4.99-5.50)
  • Bananas (pH 4.50-5.20)
  • Kiwi (pH 4.84)
  • Peach (pH 3.3-4.05)

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Low-Acidic Vegetables

  • Broccoli (pH 6.30-6.85)
  • Asparagus (pH 6.00-6.70)
  • Mushrooms (pH 6.00-6.70)
  • Soybeans (pH 6.00-6.60)
  • Brussels sprouts (pH 6.00-6.30)
  • Corn (pH 5.90-7.50)
  • Carrots (pH 5.88-6.40)
  • Radishes (pH 5.85-6.05)
  • Celery (pH 5.70-6.00)
  • Hearts of palm (pH 5.70)
  • String beans (pH 5.60)
  • Cauliflower (pH 5.60)
  • Spinach (pH 5.50-6.80)
  • Eggplant (pH 5.50-6.0)
  • Okra, cooked (pH 5.50-6.60)
  • Potatoes (pH 5.40-5.90)
  • Parsnip (pH 5.30-5.70)
  • Cabbage (pH 5.20-6.80)
  • Acorn squash (pH 5.18-6.49)
  • Cucumbers (pH 5.12-5.78)

Tip

If you are considering a low-acid diet, check with your doctor or consult with a dietitian to make sure you aren't missing any essential vitamins and minerals.

Why Low-Acid?

There is no conclusive scientific evidence to support the central claim of the alkaline diet, as neither food nor drink can change your blood's tightly controlled pH, according to a June 2016 review in ​BMJ​.

However, current studies support cutting back on some of those acid-producing foods (i.e. red meats) while filling your diet with more veggies. In fact, decreasing animal meat in favor of more fruits and vegetables helps reduce urine acidity, a culprit in promoting kidney stones, per the National Kidney Foundation. And a May 2016 study in the Iranian Journal of Kidney Diseases suggests that a low-acid diet is tied to a lower risk of chronic kidney disease.

Emphasizing more vegetable protein in lieu of red meat may even help manage heartburn symptoms and issues related to GERD. Vegetable proteins are associated with fewer incidents of acid reflux within the first hour after eating, according to an April 2018 study in Gastroenterology Research and Practice.

"High-fiber food helps with the movement of contents in the stomach through the digestive tract," Madathupalayam Madhankumar, MD, a gastro surgeon, says. "The food which is stuck in the stomach for a long time causes acid generation and pressure on the esophageal sphincter, which will result in acid reflux."

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Is a Low-Acid Diet Right for You?

Low-acid diets may be necessary for GERD treatment. As previously mentioned, highly acidic foods — in addition to spicy foods, caffeinated foods and drinks and alcohol — can irritate the throat and esophageal tissue.

GERD can lead to Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Only a small percentage of people with Barrett's esophagus end up with esophageal cancer.

Unless it is medically advised, you don't have to worry about determining the acidity of every single food. Most people don't need to be so pH-specific. Instead of becoming pH-obsessed, it's more important to focus on a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.

Tip

Home test kits measuring the pH of your urine don't provide reliable information about the body's pH level. Instead, focus on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, and keep to a minimum the amount of red meat and processed meats that you eat.

Low-Acid Recipes to Try

Tip

Lemon juice, garlic, and onion are common GERD trigger foods. So if you're managing GERD, swap out the lemon juice for lemon zest and simply omit the onion and garlic.

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