If you follow a low-acid, stomach-friendly diet, you know how important it is to consume fresh and natural but also alkaline-forming foods. But, as you know, a good number of foods require cooking before they can be consumed.
So, this begs the question: Are some cooking methods – or perhaps eating a primarily raw diet – better at preventing acid reflux and GERD symptoms? Is cooked food acidic?
Is Cooked Food Acidic?
As a general rule, cooking foods at high temperatures changes the pH levels from alkaline to acidic and breaks down starch, thus increasing the sugar content. Sugar is another very acidic nutrient, so it’s important to limit it on a low-acid diet. What’s more, cooking tends to wash essential minerals and vitamins out of your body, making the foods you consume less nutritious.
Does all cooked food have the same pH level?
Just like all raw food, cooked food has different pH levels, depending on the starting pH level. However, cooking tends to lower the pH levels of all foods, including meat, vegetables, and various grains.
This is because cooking, especially boiling and other methods that include rapidly raising the temperature of the food causes the release of certain minerals that have acid-forming properties. But it doesn’t mean that all cooked foods have the same pH level, regardless of the preparation method.
Does cooking food changes its alkaline- and acid-forming properties?
Cooking any type of food changes its chemical properties, including how acidic or alkaline it is. This is a no-brainer since nutrition plays an important part in your health and how you should approach your symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
It’s also worth noting that if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD symptoms very rarely, you might be perfectly fine with cooking your foods using all available methods. But it’s also important to listen to how your body’s reacting to the cooking methods you’re using.
Cooked food, particularly boiled vegetables, is lower in antioxidants than its raw counterparts. Antioxidants help your body flush out free radicals and prevent oxidative stress and damage to your cells.
If you prefer cooking your veggies instead of eating them raw, studies found that baking and dry-heat cooking cause the lowest loss of antioxidants, while frying and boiling are the worst. Dry heat also helps your food retain more nutrients than other cooking methods.
Furthermore, cooking – especially frying – involves adding oils or butter, which tend to be acid-forming. Because of that, this cooking method can change the alkalinity of your food, especially if the food is slightly acidic to begin with.
On the other hand, cooking vegetables, which are almost always alkaline, don’t make them acidic but lowers their alkaline-forming properties. As a result, you can still consume cooked veggies, but keep in mind that they’re not as alkaline as in their raw form.
Is cooked food better than raw food for acid reflux?
As mentioned above, cooked food has slightly more acid-forming properties. But it doesn’t mean that they are better or worse for people suffering from acid reflux: It all depends on the food. Research differs when it comes to the benefits of raw foods on the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
But many studies show that raw vegetables might be easier for your stomach to digest as they tend to contain more fiber that helps soak up excess stomach acid and prevent stomach lining inflammation.
On the other hand, consuming cooked foods can be healthier, especially if you suffer from digestive system issues. This is because cooking kills harmful bacteria and may remove dangerous microorganisms, particularly from raw meats and vegetables.
There’s also a risk associated with consuming raw meat, including salmonella and severe food poisoning. Because of that, it might be a good idea to cook certain foods, such as meat and fish, and avoid eating them raw, especially if you don’t know if they’re safe.
Consuming raw food might also aid in weight loss, which has been linked to less severe and frequent acid reflux and GERD symptoms. Raw food also requires more energy to be digested, decreasing the number of calories absorbed into your bloodstream. As a result, eating raw food might also help you with controlling your weight and not only with your acid reflux.
What cooking method makes food the least acid-forming?
Boiling has been found to be the worst cooking method not only when it comes to the acidity of the final product. In fact, boiling foods in water causes a major nutrient loss, which means that you’re mostly consuming empty calories with little to no flavor.
The nutrients that get flushed out the most are water-soluble vitamins, including vitamin C and most group B vitamins, which are vital to your overall health.
Oven-baking and dry-heat cooking are two of the best cooking methods for people with acid reflux. This is because they don’t add additional calories from oil or butter, making your meals healthier and better for maintaining a good, balanced diet.
Dry heat also tends to cause a steady increase in temperature, so it doesn’t lower the pH level of the foods you’re cooking too much.
Aside from cooking methods, food acidity also depends on other ingredients. For example, if you suffer from particularly severe acid reflux and GERD symptoms, it might be a good idea to steer clear from spices, such as curry, black pepper, or chili flakes.
These might not be acid-forming, but they may irritate and inflame your esophagus due to their strong flavor and taste. Because of that, it might be best to stick to spices, such as oregano, basil, or sea salt, which aren’t harmful to your digestive system.
Cooked food tends to be less alkaline-forming and even lean towards acid-forming. Cooking also flushes out a lot of beneficial nutrients, which aren’t good for your health.
To combat that, try using methods that cook your foods slowly and don’t increase the temperature rapidly to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your food without worsening your acid reflux and GERD symptoms.
I’ve been interested in food for many years, and nutrition is my passion. From cooking healthy meals to educating myself on the health benefits of food products, there’s nothing that I don’t enjoy writing and learning about.