Food is classified as acid-forming, alkaline-forming or neutral based on its pH nature after the body metabolizes it. A food’s own acid content or pH value does not determine whether it will have an acidifying or alkalizing effect on the body. For example, eggs have an alkaline pH but are acid-forming in the body. Likewise, various cakes and baked goods have pH values above 7.0, meaning they’re alkaline. In the body, however, sugary desserts are highly acid-forming. In contrast, the vast majority of fruits and vegetables contain enough acid to give them acidic pH values, yet have a highly alkalizing effect on the body.
Food is classified as having a high acid content if it has a value of 4.6 or lower on the pH scale. Acid occurs naturally to some degree in most fruits and vegetables in the form of tartaric, malic, sulfuric, oxalic, benzoic or citrus acid. Some fruits and vegetables contain more than one type of acid, but one is usually dominant. Other foods contain varying degrees of acid, including the lactic acid in milk, the caffetannic acid in coffee and the acetic acid in vinegar.
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, Mandarin oranges, tangerines and tangelos are high acid-containing citrus fruits that are also highly to moderately alkaline-forming in the body. In particular, lemons, limes and their freshly squeezed, unsweetened juices contain high amounts of acid and are highly alkaline-forming. Regularly adding slices of lemon or lime to a glass of water is a way to boost your body’s alkali reserves. Other high acid-containing, alkaline-forming fruits include pineapples, strawberries, cherries and kiwi fruit.
Many of the other fruits that are considered “high-acid” have a lower acid content than citrus fruits but contain more acid than “low-acid” fruits. Alkaline-forming fruits containing a moderate to high amount of acid include peaches, apricots, apples, pears, figs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and grapes. Fresh and dried figs rank as one of the most highly alkalizing foods. Bananas, all melon varieties, persimmons and papaya are alkaline-forming fruits with a low acid content. Of these, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, persimmons and papaya are highly alkaline-forming.
Nearly all vegetables contain a low amount of acid, with the average pH value falling somewhere between 5.5 and 6.9 on the acid-base scale. Many vegetables, including zucchini, asparagus, celery, endives, kale, lettuce, all varieties of squash, sweet potatoes and yams have only slightly acidic pH values but are highly alkaline-forming. Some of the most alkalizing acid-containing vegetables include yams, pumpkins, butternut squash, mustard greens, artichokes, beets, cabbage, asparagus and rutabagas.
Most fruits and almost all vegetables are alkaline-forming in the body. Exceptions include cranberries, pomegranates, dates, plums, prunes and tomatoes, all of which have a slightly acid-forming effect when eaten. Although many other foods, including dairy, meat, seafood, pickled food, jams and various types of sugar contain low amounts of acid, they’re moderately to highly acid-forming in the body. Apple cider vinegar and umeboshi vinegar are exceptions — according to “The Acid Alkaline Food Guide,” these high-acid vinegars are alkaline-forming in the body. References “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods”; Michael Murray, N.D., et al.; 2005 “The Acid Alkaline Food Guide”; Dr. Susan E. Brown, et al.; 2006 “The pH Balance Diet”; Bharti Vyas, et al.; 2007 “Alkalize or Die”; Dr. Theodore A. Baroody; 1991 Oklahoma State University; The Importance of Food pH in Commercial Canning Operations; William McGlynn
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