Acidity is measured on a scale ranging from one to 14 and is expressed as a pH value. Values up to seven imply an acidic pH, whereas pH values from eight to 14 imply alkalinity. Foods that have a pH value of seven neutral on the scale, as they are neither acidic nor basic. A pH lower than seven is related to high levels of acidity. Foods with a pH more than seven help neutralize acidity in the stomach. So, are bananas acidic or alkaline? Let’s find out.
Are Bananas Acidic?
The acidity or alkalinity of fruits depends on their ripeness. All ripe fruits have a pH that is less acidic or slightly alkaline. But, where do bananas measure on the scale? Are bananas acidic or alkaline?
Unripe bananas are acidic as they have a pH of around 5.6. However, ripe bananas have a pH of around 6.5, which is much less acidic.
People who suffer from acid reflux are often advised to eat bananas. But some people suffering from acid reflux feel that bananas increase acidity instead.
Unripe bananas contain 4.5 milliequivalents of total organic acidity per 100 grams. Malic acid is the primary acid in bananas. Other acids include oxalic, citric, and tartaric acid. Oxalic acid forms 50% of the total acidity, malic acid forms 35%, and 10% is citric peak acidity.
As the banana ripens, the malic acid and citric peak acidity increase by three to four times. Oxalic acid drops to 60% of original amount. In a ripe banana, malic acid contributes to 65% of the total acidity, citric peak contributes 20%, and oxalic acid contributes 10%.
For you to maintain optimum health, your diet should contain 60% alkaline-forming foods and 40% acid-forming foods.
What Is Acid Reflux?
The backflow of acid from the stomach to the esophagus is known as acid reflux. The backflow of acid usually happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) becomes weakened or damaged.
The LES closes as soon as food passes through it, which prevents food in the stomach from moving up into the esophagus. If the LES doesn’t close, the acid from the stomach irritates the esophagus lining due to acid reflux.
Can Bananas Cause Acid Reflux?
Bananas act as a natural antacid and help neutralize the acid in the body. The fruit produces mucus which coats the lining of the stomach. Bananas are also rich in potassium, magnesium, manganese, and calcium.
The potassium content in bananas has an alkalizing property that helps reduce acidity in the stomach. It also helps in the digestion and absorption of food into the stomach.
Eating a banana strengthens a weak sphincter and increases its working capability. It is a quick and effective remedy for people suffering from acid reflux. To treat acid reflux, you can have a banana before or after meals.
You can add the fruit to your diet in the form of smoothies, salads, or as a topping to cereals. Chopped bananas sprinkled with cinnamon powder will improve digestion and prevent acid reflux. You can also combine the fruit with other foods that reduce acid reflux.
On the other hand, unripe bananas can cause acid reflux. Unripe bananas contain potassium nitrate which leads to acid reflux. They also contain an indigestible carbohydrate which promotes gut fermentation and causes acid reflux.
Overripe bananas can also increase acid reflux. So, you should consume bananas which are neither overripe nor unripe, but just perfectly ripe.
5 Foods That Reduce Acid Reflux
There are several non-citric fruits that prevent acid reflux. Fruits such as melons, apples, and pears have an alkalizing effect on the body and reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
Here are five acid reflux-reducing foods that you can easily add to your regular diet.
1. Green leafy vegetables
Many vegetables including green leafy vegetables are low in fat and sugar. They help reduce acid reflux.
You can include vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, lettuce, potatoes, cauliflower, and cucumbers in your diet to reduce acid reflux.
This whole grain is rich in fiber. It absorbs acid in the stomach and reduces the symptoms of acid reflux. Other fibrous foods that you can add to your diet which reduce acid reflux include whole grain bread and brown rice.
Lemon juice with water or the juice of a fresh-squeezed lemon on your food helps reduce acid reflux. Lemons contain citric acid and have an acidic pH. However, when ingested, they have an alkalizing effect on your body.
4. Healthy fats
Consuming high-fat foods triggers acid reflux while healthy fats prevent it. You can include avocados, flaxseed, olive oil, walnuts, sesame oil, and sunflower oil in your diet to reduce acid reflux.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It is a natural remedy for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems.
You can have ginger tea to help reduce acid reflux. Ginger can also be added to smoothies and soups to reduce acid reflux.
Final Word on Bananas and Acid Reflux
Now that you know bananas are acidic when unripe, you shouldn’t eat them to reduce acid reflux. Conversely, ripe bananas do help prevent and reduce acid reflux.
Overall, you should refrain from consuming an acid-forming diet. Emotional stress, immune reactions, or toxic overload may also cause acid reflux.
You should change not only your diet but also your lifestyle to prevent acid reflux. Also, consider implementing small changes to your lifestyle such as eating something healthy after three hours, not eating at least two hours before going to bed, and exercising. These changes go a long way in preventing acid reflux. However, if these do not help your acid reflux condition and it becomes persistent, consult your doctor.
“7 Foods to Help Your Acid Reflux,” Healthline; http://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/diet-nutrition#helpful-foods2, last accessed May 8, 2017.
Wyman, H., and Palmer, J., Organic Acids in the Ripening Banana Fruit,” Plant Physiology, July 1964; 39(4): 630–633. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC550137/.
“How to Cure Acid Reflux with Banana,” Home Remedies, January 5, 2016; http://homeremediesforlife.com/banana-for-acid-reflux/.