Fruits are rarely alkaline, they are considered acidic foods. Strawberries are no different. A strawberry has a relatively low pH value, which is the indicator for measuring acidity. The lower the pH levels are (a scale between 0 and 14), the more acidic the food tends to be. For comparison’s sake, water has a pH of 7 and is neither acidic nor alkaline.
According to a Clemson University study, strawberries are very acidic fruits with an average pH value ranging between 3.0 and 3.9. The pH levels of strawberries are comparable to that of raspberries, apples, or grapes. Strawberries are generally less acidic than blueberries, but more acidic than oranges.
It must be noted that the range of acidity in strawberries can vary quite a bit. Much like grapes, there are many different varieties and each will have its own acidity range. Acidity is determined during the ripening process, in which the sugar content rises and the acidity decreases.
Strawberries Are Acidic Fruits
Understanding the acidity of any fruit starts with having some knowledge of the meaning behind pH levels. Water is usually taken as a baseline measurement, as it is the most pH neutral abundant substance available. The pH value of water is usually near a value of 7.0, which is a neutral average.
All fruits are acidic to some degree, but some more than others. For example, a lemon is on the very acidic end of the spectrum with a pH between 2.0 and 2.6. Mild fruits like melons are much less acidic. For example, a Cantaloupe melon will have a pH between 6.13 and 6.58, which is very close to neutral, almost like water.
With a pH between 3.0 and 3.9, strawberries are considered very acidic fruits. Even when compared to similar acidic berries like raspberries, the strawberry ranks as a highly acidic berry. Only blueberries are generally more acidic than strawberries, except for the most acidic strawberry varieties.
How Much Acid Is In Strawberries?
A cup of strawberries contains about 85 grams of ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C. In general, 88% of all acid in strawberries is ascorbic acid. Malic acid, ellagic acid, and pantothenic acid make up the other 12% of the acid in strawberries.
Please note that the numbers described above are averages and estimations based on scientific research in a controlled environment. The real acid content in any given strawberry can vary considerably depending on a range of factors:
- Type of strawberry: Different varieties can have a different acid content
- Ripeness stage: Sugar content rises and acid content decreases when strawberries ripen
- Storage method: Humidity level, temperature, exposure to sunlight, the container it is kept in
- Cut or whole fruit: Slicing a strawberry causes rapid loss of ascorbic acid of up to 50%
Best Practices When Eating Acidic Fruits
It’s generally completely safe and healthy to consume a handful of fresh strawberries. However, daily consumption or consumption of large quantities might cause some undesired side effects. If you suffer from acid reflux or dental problems, reducing risk is especially important.
The high acidity of strawberries is especially risky for the teeth and digestive system. During and after consumption, make sure to take note of the following best practices:
- Let fruits ripen: Unripe strawberries are more acidic than fully ripened ones. When picking your own strawberries, leave them on the plant as long as possible before picking. When purchasing from a store, ripeness is unlikely to change much more, except for several clever methods that can ripen your strawberries faster. Regardless, always make sure to choose berries that are as red as possible.
- Wait with brushing teeth: Highly acidic foods cause tooth enamel to dissolve, and teeth require some ‘repair time’ to restore the protective layer on your teeth. Make sure to avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes (but preferably an hour) after consuming strawberries.
- Minimize dental interaction: To reduce the effect of acidic fruits on the teeth (and protect against teeth decay from erosion), make sure to avoid lengthy interaction with acidic foods and juices. This means to eat acidic foods or juices fast, don’t nibble on them or take small sips for hours on end. For strawberry drinks or smoothies, make sure to use straws. Avoid filling your mouth with the fruit and making lengthy contact with teeth where possible. After consumption, rinse the mouth immediately with water.
- Dilute and mix: Using acidic fruits like strawberries as an ingredient is better for the stomach and teeth. Dilute juices or popsicles with more water, or mix fresh strawberries with (for example) ingredients like yogurt. Anything that can bring down the acidity levels of what you’re consuming should reduce possible negative side-effects of the relatively high acidity.
Acid Reflux & Eating Strawberries
Strawberries are generally considered safe to eat for those who suffer from acid reflux problems. Eat strawberries in moderation to avoid any acid reflux symptoms. Where possible, try to mix strawberries with less acidic foods.
For people suffering from a more serious version of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it might be a good idea to seek out less acidic varieties. Always make sure the fruits are sufficiently ripe and cut them in a fruit mix with milder fruits (such as bananas and melons).
If you’re unsure about possible side effects related to your personal medical situation, make sure to contact a licensed professional for dietary advice. Everyone is unique and can respond differently to specific fruits. This is especially true if you’re included in one of the risk groups that are more sensitive to highly acidic fruits.
Can Babies Eat Acidic Strawberries?
Generally, babies can start eating strawberries from about 6 months of age, when they start eating solid foods. Much like similar acidic fruits, a strawberry might cause a rash or mild skin irritation around the mouth. The fruit can also impact the bowel movements of your baby.
While high in acidity, the irritation around the mouth is not considered an allergic reaction. These fruits are unlikely to cause any type of allergic response and any skin irritation will be short-lived.
It is quite normal for new parents to offer their young children soft fruits like strawberries from a very young age. In moderation, this should not cause any problems. When the fruit is mixed with other fruits (with a milder level of acidity), everything should be okay.
Strawberries Are Healthy But Acidic
Let’s not be afraid of the side effects of the strawberry. You could be worried about the low pH levels of this fruit. But the benefits will greatly outweigh the risks. Even people that suffer from acid reflux problems should be able to eat some of these juicy red vitamin bombs.
However, this doesn’t mean that risk groups shouldn’t inform themselves about possible side effects.
Foods that are high in acidity can have an effect on teeth and digestive systems. You shouldn’t take that lightly, but don’t overestimate the risk either. The vitamins and minerals inside a strawberry will help you more than the acidity will hurt you. Follow the best practices described in this overview, and there won’t be an issue at all. Even when you have problems with tooth erosion or acid reflux!