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Are Vegetables Acidic or Alkaline? (Quick Read)

Even though vegetables aren’t favored by everyone, they come with a wide range of health benefits. 

They’re often rich in fiber, low in calories, and high in vitamins and minerals.

But, when you follow a specific diet – for example, a low-acid diet – you have to be especially careful about which foods you consume. 

On this type of diet, it’s important to eat mostly alkalizing foods and avoid acidic foods.

So, are vegetables acidic? Or suitable for a low-acid diet?

Are vegetables acidic?

Most vegetables are alkaline, so they don’t increase the acidity in your stomach. Eating them also doesn’t trigger any acid reflux or GERD symptoms, which means they make for a great addition to any low-acid, alkaline diet.

Nevertheless, some fruits (raw tomatoes or citrus), even if they’re alkalizing, are quite acidic before they are digested and may not be recommended for people with an ulcer or severe reflux.

In addition, both raw and cooked veggies are rich in antioxidants and many nutrients that you can’t get from other foods. So, it’s important to include them in your diet as much as possible to stay healthy.

Are Vegetables Acidic or Alkaline?
Are Vegetables Acidic or Alkaline?

Don’t know what to drink? We made a list of more than 20 most and least acidic juices and 20+ alcoholic drinks ranked by acidity levels.

Are some vegetables acidic?

If you eat fresh vegetables – whether cooked or raw – they’re always alkaline, not acidic. So, they can be a part of any diet that limits acidic foods.

On the other hand, eating vegetables that are canned in syrup or other ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice can cause acid reflux-like symptoms. This isn’t exactly because of the veggies themselves, but the brine they’re in.

So, if you tend to experience acid reflux symptoms after eating acidic foods, avoiding canned products might be your best option.

Another type of veggie that might be acidic is the deep-fried kind. This is because high-fat foods are hard for your stomach to digest.

As a result, your stomach is forced to produce more gastric acid, which can then rise up your esophagus, causing heartburn and other issues.

To combat that, stick to eating steamed or boiled veggies and avoid adding too many acidic spices and salt. 

That way, you’ll get the most out of your veggies without increasing their acidity.

What are the least acidic vegetables?

Fresh Spinach Leaves
What are the least acidic vegetables?

All vegetables, especially the fresh ones, have alkaline-forming properties. Because of that, eating them shouldn’t give you heartburn unless you suffer from the type of reflux that can be triggered by any food.

There are some vegetables that are particularly low in acid. These include:

The list can be much longer, so these are just some examples. Eating these veggies, especially when they’re steamed, is very good for those with acid reflux.

These vegetables are not only alkaline-forming, but they also contain powerful plant compounds and lots of fiber. 

So, they can help soak up excess stomach acid, reducing the acidity in your stomach.

Should you eat vegetables when you suffer from acid reflux or GERD?

Should you eat vegetables when you suffer from acid reflux or GERD?

If you eat them raw, boiled, or steamed, fresh vegetables are an excellent food for a GERD-friendly diet. 

They help decrease stomach acidity, provide you with lots of nutrients, and improve your health.

Vegetables are also a great source of fiber, which is an important nutrient for those with acid reflux issues.

This is because this nutrient helps soak up excess stomach acid, reducing the risk of your stomach contents rising up and causing heartburn.

What’s more, fiber helps fill you up as you eat, preventing overeating. According to studies, overeating increases your risk of heartburn. So, avoiding that can bring some relief from acids reflux symptoms.

With all those benefits, you don’t have to fear adding veggies to your diet.

Does cooking change vegetables’ acidity?

It’s important to note that how you cook your vegetables actually changes their properties, too. Cooked fruits and vegetables are more acidic than their raw counterparts.

Different kinds of cooking change their pH in different ways, too. Steaming and quick stir-frying are the less property-altering methods. On the other hand, boiling is known to change food’s properties drastically.

So even though vegetables aren’t acidic, certain cooking and preserving methods can lower their pH level and increase their acidity.

Does cooking change a vegetable's acidity?
Does cooking change vegetables’ acidity?

For example, preserving veggies in brine made using vinegar or lemon juice makes them more acidic. 

As a result, eating such canned products can be a trigger for individuals with acid reflux and GERD.

Also, frying vegetables, especially in a lot of oil, makes them more caloric and harder for your stomach to digest. 

So, to avoid that, opt for steaming or boiling your veggies, especially if your acid reflux tends to be severe.

You can also try avoiding salad dressings and spicy herbs. These tend to aggravate acid reflux symptoms in most people, so you might want to limit them.

Otherwise, if you prepare your veggies using gentle cooking methods, you don’t have to worry about their acidity.

What foods are acidic?

Vegetables are the best food group for those with acid reflux and GERD. But there are some foods that you might want to limit or avoid on a low-acid, stomach-friendly diet.

Some of the most acidic foods include:

Here, it’s important to remember that everyone has different triggers. So, some people might be OK consuming the above-mentioned foods. 

Because of that, make sure to always listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.

Also, just because these foods are acidic doesn’t mean you have to remove them from your diet altogether. 

While it’s best to avoid sweetened foods and beverages, cheese and meat are still healthy and provide you with a lot of nutrients.

After all, a healthy diet is all about moderation. So, you can safely have some of these food products from time to time. But don’t overdo it.

Conclusion

All types of fresh vegetables are low in acid. Because of that, they can be safely incorporated into a low-acid diet that’s aimed at reducing the symptoms of acid reflux.

Some veggies are more alkaline than others, though, so make sure to listen to your body’s reaction as you change your diet.

On top of that, veggies are rich in powerful antioxidants, nutrients, and other substances that lower your risk of various diseases while improving your health. So, make sure to include a balanced range of vegetables in your diet as often as possible.

Don’t know what to drink? We made a list of more than 20 most and least acidic juices and 20+ alcoholic drinks ranked by acidity levels.

Sources: USDA, Arrow, California Courts, FDA, and National Library of Medicine