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Are Apples Acidic?

Are Apples Acidic? And Do They Keep the Doctor Away? When it comes to food and health, the acid-content of a diet isn’t always the first thing that comes up in conversation.  However, for health reasons, you may also have to take into account the acid-content of the foods you enjoy.  So, if you’re an apple lover, it’s perfectly normal to wonder if apples are acidic and if they keep the proverbial doctor away.

Like almost all foods, apples are technically acidic and usually come in between 3 to 4 on the pH scale, depending on the variety of apple.  That being said, apples are also considered alkalizing.  This is possible because apples help the digestive system by encouraging the body to properly regulate acid levels instead of acting as an irritant like severely acidic foods can.  This effect, in addition to other health benefits, goes a long way in keeping the doctor away.

Apple

Credits: Amit Lahav

Now that you know that apples are an acidic fruit that also has an alkalizing effect on the human body, let’s delve deeper into the health benefits of such a food and why it can actually keep you out of the doctor’s office.

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Apples and Acidity

Before exploring acid levels in apples and what it all means any further, let’s first take a look at how acid is measured and how the acid in apples compares to other fruits in general.

When looking at the acid-content of any food, you have to take into account where it falls on the pH (potential for hydrogen) scale.  The scale ranges from 0 – 14, with 7 being neutral.  0 – 6 indicates an acidic item and 8 – 14 an alkaline item.

As noted, apples tend to fall between 3 – 4 on the pH scale, which is acidic but not highly acidic.  For a very acidic fruit, look no further than the lemon, which usually ranks around 2 on the pH scale.

It should also be noted that almost all food falls in the acidic range.  Yes, some are just below 7 but there are very few foods above 7.  That’s why many people say fruits and vegetables are alkaline foods, even though they’re technically acidic in nature.  What they are, though, are alkaline promoting based on their composition and how they’re metabolized.

The pH scale doesn’t only apply to food.  Pure water should be perfectly neutral.  The pH levels of soil are measured to determine which plants grow better in acidic soil versus alkaline soil.  Blood tests help determine whether a person’s blood is too acidic or too alkaline.  Knowing if a person is either too acidic or too alkaline can help prevent serious health risks.

Does that mean if you have a diet high in apples, you’re going to become acidic and face serious health risks?

No. Nothing you normally eat is really going to affect the acid-level of your blood.

There needs to be a clear distinction between the acid levels in your blood and the acid levels in your digestive system.  For the acid levels in your blood to rise (acidosis), there needs to be something ingested that directly impacts the metabolism of that substance and how much was consumed.  Acidosis to this degree is usually seen with complications from diabetes or alcoholism.

Now, that doesn’t mean if you eat a lot of apples (or a lot of anything) you won’t see an increase in stomach acid.  After all, an increase in stomach acid is usually the natural response of the body to breakdown food.  However, if you have a full or upset stomach or heartburn, adding more acid  to the equation probably won’t help.

That being said, apples, although acidic, aren’t heavy on citric acid like lemons, oranges, or pineapples.  And because they have an alkalizing effect, they’re more likely to help calm an acidic stomach than hurt.

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Health Benefits of Apples

As mentioned, apples and other fruits, although acidic in content, tend to have an alkalizing effect on the body.  This is because as food is digested, the acid waste produced to digest the food is filtered by the kidneys.  This is measured by another scale called the potential renal acid load or PRAL and each food has a score for it.  Apples score low, which is why they’re considered alkalizing.  It doesn’t have anything to do with pH at that point.

A woman picking apples

Credits: Priscilla Du Preez

The fact that apples can have an alkalizing effect on the body isn’t the only reason apples can help keep the doctor away.  So, what are some other health benefits of apples?

One big thing is that apples are a good source of vitamins and minerals important for maintaining heart health.

Like most fruits, the big vitamin you’re going to get from apples is Vitamin C.  Vitamin C, of course, is known for helping the immune system, cardiovascular health, and maintaining eye and skin care.  So, if you’re worried about the common cold or scurvy, eating apples definitely helps.

Apples are also a good source of potassium.  Not as great a source as bananas, but a good source all the same.  Besides helping with blood flow and preventing things like muscle cramps, potassium is also an important mineral for heart health.

Another important mineral for heart health and cardiovascular health altogether, is copper.  Copper can also be found in apples.

Apples can also help control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower inflammation.  So far, it looks like apples are really good for the heart.

But don’t forget fiber.  Apples, like most fruits, are excellent sources of fiber.  Besides helping the old digestion system, fiber also has a satiating effect on the body.  In other words, fiber helps you feel fuller and aids in preventing overeating.

Lastly, the natural sugar found in fruits like apples also helps people with Type 2 diabetes (or are pre-diabetic) get healthy sugar without seriously impacting their blood sugar levels and health further.

So, overall, apples may not keep you from ever having to go to the doctor, but as long as you’re not overeating apples or living on apples alone, you probably won’t have to go to the doctor because of them.

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Will Apples Cause Acid Reflux?

Now maybe you’re wondering, “Hey, don’t acidic foods cause acid reflux? Surely, apples will cause acid reflux because they’re acidic and therefore will not keep the doctor away.”

The easy answer is: maybe.

The facts to remember about acid reflux are that acid reflux is usually the result of genetics and how well a person processes and breaks down food. Genetically, a person may have issues with the valve that closes the stomach after eating and is supposed to prevent stomach acid from creeping back into the esophagus, causing heartburn.  Or a person’s body may produce more stomach acid if the acid already in the stomach isn’t breaking down food adequately enough.

Think of the times when someone has overeaten and gotten heartburn.  Is it because the valve between their stomach and their esophagus is malfunctioning?  Or is it because they ate too much food and now their digestive system is overcompensating for the amount of food in their stomach and producing more acid than normal to break the food down?

It could be either or a combination of both.

The point is, the cause of acid reflux isn’t always narrowed down to a specific individual trigger, unless you have a food allergy or some other predisposition that you’re already aware of that causes acid reflux in you.  If apples do this to you, then you already know you should avoid apples.

If apples don’t, on their own, cause acid reflux in you already, then eating more apples isn’t going to start causing issues.  Unless you decide to eat only apples and a lot of them.

fresh apples

Credits: engin akyurt

People who have issues with acid reflux or have been diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) are usually told by a doctor to avoid certain foods high in acid and fat.  Both can not only be irritating to an already fragile digestive system, they can cause pretty awful pain.  These types of foods include citrus fruits, onions, chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, and beverages containing caffeine or alcohol.

Since apples fall between 3 – 4 on the pH scale, their lower acid content isn’t as worrisome as citrus fruits.  That being said, if you do have GERD, you may want to consider the types of apples that are closer to 4 on the scale.  If you don’t have a pH scale handy, an easy way to remember is the more sour the fruit, the higher the acid content.  So, a green apple is more sour than a red apple and has a higher acid content.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is apple cider vinegar acidic?

Apple cider vinegar, like apples, is acidic in nature but has a similar alkalizing effect on the body.  It has a pH level of between 2 – 3, a low PRAL score, and is slightly more alkaline than regular vinegar.

Is apple cider vinegar as healthy as apples?

It’s really not fair to compare apples to oranges or apples to apple cider vinegar when it comes to which is healthier.  With apple cider vinegar, though, you get great benefits in the form of probiotics and antioxidants that are a great supplement to a healthy diet.

Do apples keep the dentist away?

Apples don’t hurt enamel and help with bad breath, but they’re no substitute for good oral hygiene and routine visits to the dentist.

Jess Smith

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