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20 Common Acidic Foods to Avoid If You Suffer from Acid Reflux

Everything we eat and drink can be classified into three groups, acidic, alkaline, and neutral. When you’re choosing what to eat, avoiding highly acidic foods is not only great for those who suffer from acid reflux, but eating too many acidic foods can lead to lower bone density, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal problems.

More food than you think is acidic, so here are some of the most common acidic foods you may want to avoid eating excessively.

1. Lemons

Okay, this one may be obvious considering when you bite into a lemon or drink lemon water or lemonade, it’s considerably sour, but it’s worth mentioning. Lemon juice has a pH of around 2. That makes it one of the most acidic foods out there.

While lemons are delicious in water, you may want to limit the amount of lemon juice you have in your water and how much you drink because lemons are high in citric acid, which can irritate your esophagus and stomach, leading to unpleasant acid symptoms.

2. Cheese

If you’re anything like me, this one was a genuine soul crusher. Most cheeses are technically acidic foods. The pH will vary depending on the type of cheese you eat, but generally speaking, most cheese has a pH that ranges from 4 to 6.

Even the cheeses that lean closer to a neutral rating should be eaten in moderation to avoid reactions to acidity. If you want to be on the safe side, maybe give the tofu a try because it’s alkaline-forming food.

3. Soda

Coca-Cola Drink
Coca-Cola Drink

These delicious and fizzy drinks we all love are very high in acidity. For example, Coca-Cola has about 2.3, with about the same acidity as a lemon. Other types of Coca-Cola are very acidic as well. For instance, Diet Coca-Cola has an acidity of 3.2, and Cherry Coca-Cola has a pH of about 2.5

And before you start talking about the diet versions of your favorite soda, they’re high in acidity too. It’s okay to have soda on occasion, but drinking these too often isn’t great for your overall health, and it’s not just because of acidity; it’s because of their high sugar content too.

4. Bacon

I know that bacon makes everything better, but this cured meat may be causing you to have heartburn or acid reflux. Bacon is acidic, and you may want to avoid it if you suffer from any stomach issues. Many people will find it hard to give up bacon completely, but everything in moderation is okay.

Bacon has a relatively high pH level, between 5.20 and 6.12, but once it’s digested in your stomach, it becomes acidic. What’s interesting is that it becomes even more acidic, and it irritates your stomach more when you cook it for longer because overcooked meats produce compounds and substances that are harmful to your stomach and esophagus, leading to inflammation.

Besides this, bacon also has a very high-fat content, including high amounts of cholesterol, which means that it’s not very healthy for your cardiovascular system either.

5. Ham

Sliced Meats on Wooden Chopping Board
Sliced Meats on Wooden Chopping Board

The next most eaten cured and processed meat, ham, is also acid-forming food. In fact, most processed and cured meats have an acidic effect on your body, which means that they can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

Ham has a pH level of around 5.90-6.10, and the same as with bacon, it acts up after being digested and metabolized. In the case of ham, it has an acidic effect on your body due to high sodium, sugar content, and other acid-forming substances created during the curing process.

Consuming too much ham can make your symptoms of acid reflux worse, and it’s worth noting that different versions of ham may have different pH levels. Still, their acid-forming properties will remain the same.

6. Apples

Apples are a popular fruit that, to many people’s surprise, is acidic. With so many varieties of apples, many people only think the Granny Smith apples are acidic because they’re the tart apples. But even those Red Delicious and Macintosh apples are acidic.

As with cheese, the pH of apples will depend on the type. Most apples have a pH that ranges from 3 to 4, putting them on the very acidic side of the pH scale.

Common Acidic Foods to Avoid
Common Acidic Foods to Avoid

7. Refried Beans

I don’t know about you, but I can’t have taco night without a nice serving of refried beans. But, apparently, refried beans are acidic. I have a hard time believing that refried beans acidic due to them not being sour, but they have a pH of 5.9. So, they are closer to the neutral side of the pH scale, but limiting consumption of this food is key to not causing acid reflux.

8. Bananas

Bananas are very good for us and are a great source of potassium, but did you know that bananas are acidic? I know it’s hard to believe with their mild and sweet taste, but they are. Bananas generally have a pH of 4.5 to 5.2.

Suppose you’re eating a lot of bananas in the hopes of upping your potassium intake. In that case, you may want to limit the number of bananas you’re eating and find another food that’s high in potassium but not acidic.

9. Donuts

I don’t know a person who doesn’t like a good donut. Nevertheless, donuts should be avoided by people suffering from acid reflux as they are quite acidic. Their acidity depends on their ingredient’s acidity and cooking time. Also, even birds on the tree can sing that donuts aren’t very healthy food as they don’t have nutritional value and are high in sugar and fat.

10. Pickles

Pickles are acidic. Even though cucumbers are more of alkaline food, when it comes to pickles and acid reflux, it depends on the method the pickled cucumbers have been made with. Store-bought pickles, and to be honest, most of us buy them in the store, are usually loaded with vinegar and additives that can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

If you really can’t stop eating them, try naturally fermented ones as an alternative.

11. Tomatoes

Tomatoes and tomato products are quite acidic. Tomatoes have a pH that ranges from 4.3 to 4.9. Even though tomatoes tend to have a sweet flavor when they’re raw and in salads, they’re still classified as acidic. When working with canned tomatoes, they’re more acidic than fresh tomatoes, with a pH of 3.5.

Next time you’re making delicious pasta, you may want to consider making a sauce that isn’t tomato-based. The same goes for tomato soup, mostly due to its high concentrations of tomatoes.

12. Honey

Herbal Honey
Herbal Honey

Whether you like to dip biscuits in honey, add it to your tea or oatmeal, honey is a sweet treat. Even though honey is super sweet, it’s also acidic. Like many other foods, the exact pH of honey will vary depending on the batch and where it’s from. Most honey has a pH of around 3.2, which is more acidic than tomatoes!

13. Grapefruit

If you’re a fan of citrus fruits, I’m sorry to say that almost all citrus fruits are acidic. This includes grapefruit. Grapefruit is a tasty addition to any breakfast or snack, but you may want to cut back on your grapefruit consumption if you eat it every day.

Grapefruit has a pH of 3 to 3.75, but grapefruit juice is more acidic with 2.9.

14. Kiwi

As most of us know, when we mention the word kiwi, people from New Zealand often come to mind, and that’s why many believe that these fuzzy fruits have origins in New Zealand. Their roots are actually in what is now Southeast China. Kiwis are acidic fruit with a pH from 3.1 to 3.4.

There’s no one stopping you from eating kiwi with acid reflux disease. But, knowing how acidic these fruits are, you may not be feeling your best after eating them as they might worsen the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

15. Garlic

Garlic
Garlic

Garlic is one of those foods that are perfect for seasoning almost everything. Whether you’re using fresh garlic or pre-minced garlic, it’s acidic. For the most part, I don’t think people are walking around munching on garlic, but even when seasoning, be mindful. The pH of garlic is 5.8.

Even though garlic is usually considered a superfood, and your grandmother swears on it as a cure for everything (and possibly she might be right), it should be taken in moderation by people who suffer from acid reflux.

Also, if you’re taking garlic supplements, you’ll want to be careful if you’re taking any other blood thinners, as garlic supplements are known as blood thinners too.

16. Oatmeal

Oat Flakes
Oat Flakes

It shouldn’t be surprising that food that doesn’t taste sour can be acidic at this point. Oatmeal is another one of those foods. Oatmeal has a pH of around 5.2, making it acidic but not too acidic. All grains form some acidic residue in the body. That doesn’t mean you have to give them up completely, but be aware of eating them in moderation.

17. Custard

It isn’t easy to establish a pH level in custard because of the variety of ingredients, but knowing that it contains at least eggs and dairy, we can safely say it is acidic food. However, you might even get away with this one if you can try choosing options lower in fat and sugars or make your own where you wouldn’t use, for example, coconut milk with the limitation of egg yolks.

18. Hummus

Hummus with a pH of around 5.5 is considered acidic food as most of its ingredients, chickpeas as the main one, are acidic. Hummus is not a highly acidic food, so you might be able to eat it without any negative side effects.

The option is to eat a small amount to see how your body reacts, as when you have acid reflux disease, you need to watch your acid intake to avoid any uncomfortable symptoms. Hummus is definitely one of the healthier dip options there, and its acidity has a different effect on everyone, so it made a place on this list just to keep you aware.

19. Pasta

Fresh Spaghetti Noodles
Fresh Spaghetti Noodles

Pasta is everyone’s favorite. It quickly became one of the world’s most popular food. The pH level of pasta leans towards neutral, ranging from 5.10 to 6.50, but it has an acidic effect on your body. Once pasta is digested, it is very likely to worsen the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

If you are on a low-acid diet, we suggest avoiding it, especially white pasta, as it can irritate your stomach. If you are a big fan of it, as we all are at Food FAQ, whole-grain pasta is moderately acid, so you may switch to that one.

20. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is one of the oldest seasonings used in Oriental cuisines and goes great with fried rice, noodles, pan-fried meat, fish, and vegetables due to high levels of natural umami. Soy sauce is considered acidic food with a pH of around 5.

It also has many acids inside that contribute to its distinguished flavors, such as 1.0% lactic acid and more than ten other organic acids, including succinic acid.

Because of all of this, most people with GERD do not recommend it because it might cause acid reflux. Coconut aminos would be a better solution here as it’s almost neutral, and it is also a great substitute for soy sauce.

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.