Learn About The Acids In Blueberries, How blueberries impact acid reflux, indigestion and dental health. Plus Figure Out How To Enjoy All The Health Benefits of Them, While Keeping Your GI Tract and Mouth Happy!
Blueberries have long been touted for their health benefits and nutritional value. This little round fruit goes well with several dishes and snacks, can be eaten in a variety of forms from fresh to frozen to dried to canned and can be found anywhere from the grocery store to walking upon a blueberry bush while out on a hike!
Acid-wise, blueberries are filled with many acids and the type and how much of each acid depends on how ripe the fruit is. Typically, the acid profile of a fresh blueberry is 77 – 87% citric acid, 4 – 11% malic acid and then it contains small amounts of quinic acid, succinic acid, tartanic acidic, shikimic acid and chlorogenic acid. For more details on the chemical composition of blueberries please refer to this study from the Journal of Berry Research.
Yup, that sure does seem like a lot of acids in just one blueberry. Nevertheless, not all acids are bad some of the listed acids are super helpful to our health. For example, chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant, in studies it has been shown that it may help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol).
If you want to learn more about chlorogenic acid, it also happens to be in coffee and I dive deeper into its health impact in my other blog post “Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth?”.
But, like with most things with all the benefits comes some drawbacks as well. As you might be aware, acidic foods can have negative implications for our oral and overall health. So, if you are reading this you may be wondering since this nutrient packed fruit is acidic, is it worth continuing to eat them?
Well, if that’s what you are here to find out, then get ready as we dive into:
- Blueberries pH
- Blueberry nutrition facts, health benefits and potential negative health concerns
- Blueberries acidity level and impact on acid reflux and indigestion
- Blueberries acidity level and impact on teeth health
- Are blueberry juice or blueberry jam more acidic than regular blueberries?
- How to reduce acidity levels in blueberries
- Higher pH foods to pair with blueberries
Alrighty, let’s get to it
Blueberries pH Level
The pH level of blueberries ranges anywhere from 3.11 – 4.50. Frozen blueberries have the lowest range pH and can have a pH between 3.11 – 3.22. Fresh Maine blueberries pH falls between 3.12 – 3.33 and fresh Washington blueberries have the highest pH values between 3.85 – 4.50. For more details on pH and foods, Clemson University has a detailed list.
If you are unfamiliar with what these pH range numbers indicate, a pH of seven is considered neutral, pHs between 0 – 6.9 are considered acidic and pHs 8 – 14 are considered alkaline. The level of acidity varies with 0 being extremely acidic and 6.9 between barely acidic. The same goes for alkaline 14 extremely alkaline and 8 barely alkaline.
Since blueberries pH ranges from 3.11 – 4.50 they tend to be considered moderately acidic. Provided below is a pH scale with some other food pHs listed to give you an idea of where blueberries fall in the acidity range.
As you can see here on the pH scale, many fruits and vegetables fall on the acidic side of the scale. However, this doesn’t mean that we should omit such nutrient dense foods from our diet. But, it is good to have an awareness of food pH, so you know what to pair it with to help minimize them having negative impacts on health.
Blueberries are not the most acidic, but they sure do fall in the middle pH range for acidic foods. Tofu a soybean food is actually just as neutral as water with a pH of 7! On the other hand, lemon juice is rather acidic, which also makes lemons acidic too. If you are wondering what the deal is with lemons acidity and how to enjoy them without harming your teeth or health, check out my other blog post “Is Lemon Water Bad For Your Teeth?“.
Blueberry Nutrition and Health Benefits
So far, it’s understood that blueberries are filled with acids and are acidic. Yet not all acids in them are bad and some of the acids can have great benefits for us. Knowing the nutrition facts, health benefits and potential drawbacks can help you navigate if blueberries are worth it when it comes to your specific health needs.
Blueberries may be small, but when it comes to nutrition, they sure are mighty. One cup of fresh blueberries is about 80 calories and will get you 4 grams of fiber, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 14 milligrams of vitamin C, 29 micrograms of vitamin K and 0.5 milligrams of manganese. Just from a nutrition facts perspective, blueberries are a great source of fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese.
When you dive deeper past the nutrition facts label, you’ll find that blueberries also are filled with antioxidants mainly in the form of the polyphenolic compound anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are found in the pigment of plants that are deep red to purple to blue. i6Blueberries are packed with this polyphenol and are considered a great source of it.
Since anthocyanin is an antioxidant one of the biggest things it does to help our health is to reduce oxidative stress in our cells by scavenging free radicals, which essentially helps keeps our cells functioning well.
Blueberry Health Benefits
The health benefits that blueberries hold are immense. They have been extensively studied and shown to support nearly every function and system in our bodies. From heart to diabetes to neurology blueberries can support good health.
Heart and Cardiovascular Support
These little berries love our hearts and love being part of a nutritious diet for heart health. In general, they help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and cardiovascular disease. They may help manage these risks since blueberries have been shown to help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (yes, the bad cholesterol).
Brain and Memory Support
Although the research is still emerging and there is plenty more to be studied, so far, the studies show that blueberries may help manage neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Since oxidative stress can accelerate aging, this means it can also accelerate the aging in your brain. Daily consumption of blueberries has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, thus supporting maintaining healthy brain function and memory.
Diabetes Management Support
Blueberries can help with blood sugar management since there are only nine grams of sugar per half cup of serving. But, on top of that early research has shown that blueberries may help support diabetes management by helping with insulin regulation.
To date, studies show that including blueberries in a healthy everyday diet may enable your cells to absorb blood sugar with more ease. This makes less work on your pancreas as it reduces the need for it to excrete more insulin than is necessary.
Additional Health Benefits
Along with all the health benefits just listed, blueberries may also help relieve urinary tract symptoms and may even be a nutrition intervention with helping manage fatty liver.
Of course, the benefits that come from blueberries don’t just happen overnight, it’s the consistent intake of blueberries over time that may provide your body with its many advantages.
Blueberry Negative Health Concerns
If you read the literature and go do a quick google search on blueberries you will likely find all the amazing health benefits this berry is touted to support! However, like anything else too much of a good thing can cause a negative effect.
Eating blueberries may cause an allergic reaction if you have a salicylate allergy. It seems like with this type of allergy if you eat blueberries you could experience wheezing, rashes or asthma.
If you think you may be allergic to this compound, please reach out to your healthcare provider to further discuss.
Eating Too Many
Eating too many blueberries daily could cause digestion issues such as bloating, stomachache and diarrhea. This is partly because blueberries contain fiber and if you already eat a high-fiber diet adding more fiber to it may cause these gastrointestinal discomforts.
Are Blueberries Bad For Reflux? Indigestion?
As you may be aware acidic foods can cause reflux and indigestion. Foods that cause reflux and indigestion vary from person to person. Sometimes it’s certain foods that can cause this, sometimes it’s a combination of foods that can and sometimes it’s the daily consumption of certain foods that cause the discomfort.
Since blueberries are acidic and acidic foods can cause reflux and indigestion, if you experience these discomforts, you may be wondering if it’s ok to still eat them. So, here’s some information that may help you decide whether to keep on blueberrying or not!
Blueberries and Reflux
Reflux also known as heartburn tends to be somewhat contributed to eating acidic foods. Blueberries are acidic, yet as mentioned earlier they are only moderately acidic. You’d likely only experience reflux solely from blueberries if you ate them in large quantities, usually in one sitting.
However, as discussed what triggers reflux can be contributed to numerous factors and varies from person to person. If you are concerned blueberries may be causing or contributing to your reflux, try keeping a food log. After you experience reflux log what foods you ate. Do this for days or weeks then look for patterns to see if there are any foods associated with reflux instances.
Blueberries and Indigestion
Indigestion also known as gas and stomach pain, just like reflux can be caused by several foods and the cause varies from person to person.
As mentioned in the potential negative health implications of blueberries, indigestion can come about from eating too many blueberries in one sitting, allergy to something in the blueberry or intolerance from them.
Blueberries are their own if you don’t have an allergy or intolerance will probably not cause indigestion. If you think your indigestion is from blueberries just like with reflux, try keeping a food log to uncover what is causing it.
Do Blueberries Cause Tooth Decay?
Acidic foods can contribute to tooth decay. This is because the acids and sugars from the foods can adhere to your teeth, wear down enamel and cause cavities. Because blueberries are acidic, all be it moderately acidic, they could cause tooth decay.
However, blueberries are also packed with nutrients that have wonderful health benefits for our teeth. For example, these berries are packed with vitamin C which helps deposit the protein collagen in our gums and contributes to gum health. On top of that, the antioxidants anthocyanin helps manage inflammation at a cellular level, which indirectly helps reduce inflammation in our mouths. And lastly, blueberries contain fiber and fiber helps reduce dry mouth and produce saliva.
So, yes, the acid in blueberries can be a factor in the development of tooth decay. Yet, they sure do help mouth health too. Try drinking water after having blueberries to flush out any acids or sugars that could be on your teeth. Also, try pairing the blueberries with less acidic foods to neutralize the pH. To see food pairing examples, scroll down!
Is Blueberry Juice Or Blueberry Jam More Acidic Than Regular Blueberries?
To recap, fresh blueberry pH ranges from 3.11 – 4.50. The pH of fresh blueberry juice ranges depending on the kind of blueberry you use but tends to average around a pH of 4.35. If you drink fermented blueberry juice that reduces the pH to a range of 2.48 – 2.59.
So, fresh blueberry juice tends to fall on the higher end of the fresh whole blueberry range, making it about the same acidity as fresh blueberries. When it comes to fermented blueberry juice, the fermentation process makes the juice significantly more acidic than fresh blueberries.
When you juice fruit you remove the fiber from it. Fiber helps support the feeling of fullness, blood sugar management and cholesterol level management. Additionally, fiber helps reduce the number of acids and sugars that can adhere to your teeth and lead to tooth decay. Just something to be mindful of if you are choosing between fresh fruit and its juice counterpart.
Blueberry jam has a pH range of 2.8 – 4.5. Depending on what is added to the jam and how it is made can impact its pH value. This makes blueberry jam either more acidic than fresh blueberries or can have about the same pH as them.
Keep in mind, blueberry jam tends to include added sugars, so it may not be as nutrient-dense as fresh blueberries.
How To Reduce The Acidity Of Blueberries
Pairing blueberries with fat or protein can help reduce the blueberries acidity. When you combine acidic foods and more alkaline foods you help to better manage the pH levels.
Also, pairing a fat or protein with a healthy carbohydrate like blueberries can help increase nutrient absorption and potentially lessen indigestion or reflux symptoms if that’s something you are concerned with. For examples of food pairings, refer to the chart below!
Higher pH Foods To Pair Blueberries With
|Hard Boiled Egg||~7.6|
Blueberries sure are acidic. Yet, they are packed with nutrition that provides so many health benefits for our oral and overall health. Pairing blueberries with higher-pH foods can help reduce acidity and this can help lessen the adverse impact blueberries can have on your teeth.
After reading this article, I hope you have gained the blueberry information you are looking for! Overall, if you do not have any allergies or intolerances or negative health impacts from eating blueberries, they make a great addition to an everyday balanced diet.
As always, if you are looking for guidance when it comes to nutrition and your dental and general health, as a registered dietitian I can help. Please head on over to my contact me page and reach out to see how we can work together.
Cheers to Blueberrying it Up!
Additional Blueberries and Acidity Resources: