What Are The Top Acidic Foods You Should Avoid?

Reviewed by Madhu Sharma, Registered Dietitian
Written by Swathi Handoo

Are you having sleepless nights because of heartburn? Are you burning out your gut daily? Are you unable to adjust to minute changes in your diet? Are you always in search of bland and spiceless food options?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you are looking at the right page – because we’ve got all the answers!

Consuming foods that generate high levels of acid in your stomach can lead to the symptoms mentioned above. This article tells you about the acidic foods you should stay away from. Scroll down!

Table Of Contents

What Are Acidic Foods?

Foods that have a pH level of 4.5 or lesser and tend to cause more acidity in your stomach are acidic foods.

To make it simple, let’s understand the concept of acids and bases. All foods – solids and liquids – have a pH value that makes them acidic or basic.

Chemically speaking, the pH value of a compound tells you how many hydrogen molecules it has. On a scale of 1 to 14, all the compounds having a pH less than 7 are acidic. Water is neutral and has a pH of 7. All those compounds above 7 are alkaline or basic foods.

To summarize, lower the pH, higher the acidity. And what foods fall into the low pH, highly acidic category? Here you go…

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Top Acidic Foods You Should Stay Away From

Contrary to popular belief, many vegetables and fruits trigger higher acid production and give you acidity.

Let’s look at the list of foods with their pH values that you should not be consuming if you have GERD(gastroesophageal reflux disease) because they decrease the pH of your gut.



Fruits & VeggiesMeatDairy Products
Lime (2.0)Sausages (3.3)Buttermilk (4.4)
Cranberry juice (2.5)Shellfish (3.3)Cheese (4.5)
Orange (3.7)Pork (3.8)Sour cream (4.5)
Apple (3.75)Fish (4.0)Cottage cheese (4.7)
Pineapple (3.9)Lobster (4.3)Whey (5.0)
Strawberries (3.9)Lamb (4.5)Ice cream (4.8-5.5)
Tomatoes (3.4-4.7)Beef (5.0)Drinks
Green olives (4.2)Bacon (5.5)Carbonated soft drinks (2.2)
Peach (4.2)NutsCoffee (4.0)
Mango (4.6)Peanuts (3.8)Pasteurized juices (4.0)
Dates (5.4)Cashews (4.0)Energy drinks (4.1)
SaucesPistachios (4.4)Vegetable juice (4.2)
Vinegar (3.0)Pecans (4.5)Alcohol (4.3)
Pickles (3.2)SweetenersOils (3.0-5.0)
Mayonnaise (3.8-4.2)Honey (4.0)Cooked oil
Mustard (4.0)Sugar (5.0)Solid oil (margarine)
Soy sauce (5.0)Artificial sweeteners (3.0)
Corn syrup (3.8)

So what if these foods are acidic? Why should you stay away from them? These are some questions you might be asking. I’m coming to that. Read on!

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What Happens When You Eat Acidic Foods?

Everything that you eat has to come in contact with the gastric juice in your stomach. This gastric juice is highly acidic and has a pH between 1.5 to 3.5 (equivalent to hydrochloric acid).

Our body has mechanisms to strictly control the pH in the gut and levels of gastric juice in the stomach. When the pH of your stomach is already acidic, and you eat acidic foods, a cumulative effect is created that lowers the pH in your gut even more.

It’s like adding fuel to the fire!

There’s too much acid generated at once, which can give rise to conditions like:

1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Consuming highly acidic foods can damage the protective inner lining of your stomach, giving you dreadful ulcers and terrible acid reflux.

What’s worse is if this acid reflux and inflammation continue and reach the upper GI tract and esophagus, which do not have a protective mucus-secreting cell lining (like your stomach). It can lead to chronic burning sensation, dyspepsia, acidity, heartburn, and ulcers in your mouth.

This is what happens when you have GERD. Trust me, you will not be able to swallow something as soothing as cold milk!

2. Causes Tooth Decay

Eating or drinking sugary and starchy foods can lead to the formation of a thin, sticky, invisible film of bacteria called plaque all over your teeth.

When high sugar foods come in contact with plaque, the acids that digest the food attack your teeth till almost 20 minutes after you finish eating.

Repeated acid attacks like these break down the hard enamel layer on your teeth, ultimately leading to tooth decay. Something similar happens in the case of acid reflux too (1).

3. Can Give Rise To Bone Diseases

Due to the Western diets that have a high acid, sodium, and bicarbonate content, and low potassium and calcium content, there is a gradual loss of bone density.

The urinary loss of calcium (which increases by 74% when on highly acidic foods), an inadequacy of potassium and vitamin D, and hypertension together trigger bone resorption and early onset of bone diseases like osteoporosis (2).

4. Could Cause Kidney Stones

The excretion of minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium through urine is essential for your kidneys’ health.

Having highly acidic foods can cause your kidneys to retain a fraction of these minerals while generating urine.

Over time, such mineral deposits turn into renal calculi or kidney stones. These could be fatal if left untreated.

So, how do we stop all this?

A simple way out is to reduce the consumption of such high acid-generating foods. But almost half of the foods we take in daily fall under this category. Some of them are highly nutritious too!

Then, how do we make it up?

The good news is that we have many substitutes for these foods that are equally nutritious but less acidic. You can try to choose the more alkaline options to prevent acid reflux.

Scroll down to find out what the options are.

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Substitutes For Acidic Foods

Choosing less acidic or alkaline foods over highly acidic ones can prevent you from burning your gut and esophagus.

Take a look at this pH spectrum to understand what foods fall into acidic and alkaline categories.


For your quick reference, here are some easily available alkaline foods with their pH values that you can add to your grocery list:

1. Almonds and almond milk (6.0)
2. Artichokes (5.9-6.0)
3. Asparagus (6.0-6.7)
4. Avocado (6.2-6.5)
5. Basil (5.5-6.5)
6. Broccoli (6.3-6.8)
7. Cabbage (5.2-6.8)
8. Celery (5.7-6.0)
9. Garlic (5.8)
10. Ginger (5.6-6.0)
11. Kale (6.3-6.8)
12. Kelp (6.3)
13. Lima beans (6.5)
14. Mint (7.0-8.0)
15. Okra (5.5-6.6)
16. Spinach (5.5-6.8)
17. Swiss chard (6.1-6.7)
18. Tofu (7.2)
19. Tea (7.2)
20. Zucchini (5.9-6.1)

Do you want to know what wonders you can do with these? Scroll down for a surprise!

Avocado And Quinoa Salad (Quick And Comfy!)


What You Need

  • Ripe avocados: 4 (peeled and quartered)
  • Quinoa: 1 cup
  • Chickpeas: 400g, drained
  • Parsley (flat leaf): 30g, torn

Let’s Make It!

  1. Cook the quinoa by putting one cup of quinoa in a pot with two cups of water. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 minutes until the water has evaporated.
  3. Fluff with a fork until the grains are swollen and glassy.
  4. Toss all the ingredients together and season with sea salt and black pepper. (You can also add broccoli or kale for some crunch.)
  5. Serve warm with lemon wedges and olive oil.
  6. I know, you’re glad that you came to this page! You’re welcome!


In Conclusion…


Switching to a diet rich in foods with a higher pH, like the vegetables and greens listed in this article, will help you protect your body from undesirable chemical stress.

Formulate a diet that has 80% alkaline and 20% acidic foods so that you get the best of both worlds.

Entirely avoiding acidic foods, especially fruits and nuts, is also not advisable. So, balance is key!

Try out the recipe and let us know your feedback, comments, and suggestions in the comments section below.

Feel free to share your diet stories and creative recipes with us on this page.

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Swathi holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi writes for Health and Wellness and simplifies complex topics for readers from all walks of life.And on the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings Carnatic music compositions, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.