Acid Foods

Monday, October 19, 2009  |  111 Comments

by Christopher Vasey

Christopher Vasey, N.D

The alkalizing or acidifying effect of acid foods depends on the metabolic capacities of the person who eats them. Their classification is therefore not based upon their physical effect (because that cannot be defined in advance) but on their basic nature, which is acid.

These foods contain a good deal of acid, hence their taste. The acids in them are weak, however, which means for people capable of metabolizing them properly by easily oxidizing them, they are transformed into alkaline elements and therefore contribute to the alkalization of the body. But for people whose metabolisms cannot handle acids properly, the large quantity of acids contained in these foods is not oxidized, and they thus will have an acidifying effect.

The primary acid foods are fruits, whey, and vinegar.


  • Whey, yogurt, curds, kefir, small-curd cottage cheese
  • Unripe fruits (the less ripe a fruit, the higher its acid content)
  • Acid fruits: berries (red and black currants, raspberries, strawberries); citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruit, tanger mes, oranges); certain varieties of apples (Winesap), cherries (Morello), plums, apricots
  • Sweet fruits (especially when eaten m excess), melon, watermelon
  • Acid vegetables: tomato, rhubarb, sorrel, watercress
  • Sauerkraut, vegetables that have been lactofermented (cultured with Lactobacillus)
  • Fruit juices, lemon juice (in salad dressing)
  • Honey
  • Vinegar


The faintly acid taste of apples and pears, or the strongly acidic flavor of lemons and red currants, is indicative of how high or low their acid content is. For these foods the sense of taste can be used to determine the degree of acidity. The acid content is higher in unripe fruit: the less ripe it is, the more acid. Fruits that are perfectly ripe have the least acidity. Apricots, for example, are extremely acid before maturity, even if their color is already orange, but are alkaline when they become ripe and mellow. Even within a single species of fruit, for example apples or cherries, the degree of acidity of the fruit varies according to the variety; Winesap apples are more acidic than golden apples, Morello cherries are more acidic than Bing cherries, and so forth.

Drinking fruit juice as an alternative to eating the flesh of the fruit does not reduce the acid; on the contrary. Alkaline minerals are primarily located in the pulp and remain there when the fruits are pressed for juice. Since they are not present in the juice, they cannot neutralize its acidity. (This is, of course, not the case for juices that contain pulverized pulp.)

The consumption of fruits in the form of juice can also distort your impression of how much fruit you are eating. You probably do not eat more than two oranges at one sitting, but you can easily drink two or three glasses of orange juice at a time, the equivalent of six to eight oranges.

Cooking fruits also does not diminish their acidity. In the majority of cases, cooking simply increases the acidity because the heat destroys some of the vitamins and enzymes. Furthermore, most cooked fruit dishes have white sugar added, and we have already discussed the highly acidic properties of that food.

The case of whey is unique. This food, which consists of the liquid part of milk that has been curdled through fermentation, is a transparent, clear yellow liquid. It is found in fresh white cheeses like cottage or farmer cheese, yogurt (whey is the liquid that collects in the impression made by a spoon in yogurt), kefir, and so on. When fresh, whey is alkaline, but after an hour or two it becomes acid. It primarily creates lactic acid, which, like the acids found in fruits, is relatively easy for the body to oxidize and convert into an alkaline substance, so long as the individual has no trouble metabolizing acids. When there is a metabolic inability to handle acids, however, the acids are not converted and therefore contribute to the acidification of the body's internal environment. People with this metabolic deficiency have to monitor their intake of whey, yogurt, and kefir just as they do that of fruits.

The acid fermentation used to make yogurt can also be used to preserve vegetables or juices. Sauerkraut, lactofermented vegetables and vegetable juices, and vinegar are acidifying for those with metabolism difficulties with acids but are alkalizing for everyone else.

Honey is moderately acidic.

The acidifying or alkalizing nature of fruits, whey, and vinegar is the subject of constant debate. Of course, people whose metabolisms have no problem with acids are convinced of the alkalizing nature of these foods, while the rest remain equally convinced of their acidifying nature based on their personal experience. There is no reason for this controversy ever to have arisen. These foods can either be acidifying or alkalizing, and as such they form a distinct third group that has been defined as acid foods.

In cases of extreme acidification, there is no need to worry that the total removal of all fruits from the diet will result in an insufficient intake of vitamins, as some have claimed. Fruit is certainly an extraordinary source of vitamins, but vegetables contain many as well, quite a broad spectrum, in fact. Because vegetables are the foundation of the diet of those suffering from acidification, the amount they consume should cover their daily vitamin requirements.

In fact, the elimination of acid foods will not cause major problems, because none of them are absolutely indispensable, unlike some foods with acidifying properties. Fresh fruits can be replaced with dried fruits, dairy products rich in whey by those containing none, and lactofermented vegetables by fresh vegetables. In practice, it is often necessary for a person suffering from this kind of metabolism deficiency to completely eliminate acid foods from the diet for several weeks to a month. This restriction has never created problems (other than the person's yearning to eat a food from this group that she or he enjoys). But the benefits of pH balance more than compensate for the temporary sacrifice.


The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health
Christopher Vasey

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