pH of Banana — Acidic or Alkaline?

pH of Banana

Botanically belonging to the berry family, Bananas are found across the globe, varying in shape, size, color, etc. Hundreds of banana varieties exist in the world, with the conventional sweet and seedless Cavendish banana being the most popular one. It is important to know the composition and chemical nature of edible fruits so that the consequences of consumption can be determined better.

So, what is the pH of Banana? The pH of bananas usually lies between 4.4-5.2 for unripe bananas, making them acidic in nature. Ripe bananas however have a pH of about 6.5-6.6, which is much less acidic.

Cavendish bananas have been globally cultivated in large numbers.

They are capable of achieving high yields per hectare (due to the short stems and robustness to environmental damage) and account for about 45-50% of the total global banana production.

Being a very popular and widely consumed edible product, a lot of questions arise, from time to time, around factors such as – the nutritional value, alkalinity or acidity, ripeness, etc. about bananas.

 

What is pH and pH scale?

According to chemistry, pH is the potential of Hydrogen or the power of Hydrogen. It is a scale used to specify the basicity or acidity associated with a substance.

For determining the pH, the material has to be in a somewhat aqueous form. This is because pH is an indication of the concentration of H+ ions in the substance and those ions are present only in an aqueous solution

pH = – log [H3O+]

The pH scale is a logarithmic scale that inversely implies the concentration of hydrogen (H+) ions, i.e. as the negative (or reciprocal) of the base ten logarithmic activity of the ions.

The value of pH thus obtained, abets the nature of the concerned element. A pH of 7 indicates that the tested solution is neutral.

If the pH falls in the bracket of 0-7, then the solution is termed as an acidic solution, and if it lies between 7-14, the solution is a basic solution by nature.

pH scale

The Role of Indicators

Indicators are chemical substances that aid the pH determination process by showing color changes with respect to the nature of the solution.

This means that the indicators help in analyzing the pH by merely changing the color of the solution.

Each indicator, by virtue of its own properties, has an acidic color, an alkaline color, and a definite pH at which it changes the color.

For example, Phenolphthalein is an indicator that is practically colorless in acidic solutions and changes color from dark pink to red for strongly alkaline solutions, with pH values starting from 9.

The Universal indicator gives different colors at varying pH values.

It ranges from Red (for strongly acidic solutions with pH of 0-1) to Purple (indicating strong alkaline solutions with pH 12-14), as shown in the figure.

 

Determining the pH of Bananas

Cavendish bananas have been globally cultivated in large numbers.

They are capable of achieving high yields per hectare (due to the short stems and robustness to environmental damage) and account for about 45-50% of the total global banana production.

Being a very popular and widely consumed edible product, a lot of questions arise, from time to time, around factors such as – the nutritional value, alkalinity or acidity, ripeness, etc. about bananas.

Excessively acidic fruits can be harmful to health. Determining the pH value of a banana can help establish the corollaries of its consumption.

The most basic and simple method that can be followed for measuring the pH of banana (or for that matter, any fruit) is as follows:

  • Wash the banana with water and dry it with a clean paper or cloth towel.
  • Chop it into two pieces and put them in a plate.
  • Graze a small piece of the pH paper (about 1-1.5 inch) and firmly press it on one half, along the cut surface of the banana.

The paper strip will acquire color, which can be compared to the standard scale.

The color indication can help confirm the pH of the banana. The same process can be repeated for any number of fruits with a different piece of the pH paper.

 

Are Bananas Acidic or Basic in Nature?

Whether a banana is acidic or basic depends downright on the ripeness of the fruit. In general, fruits tend to shift towards a more alkaline value of pH as they ripen. The same is the case with bananas.

While unripe, bananas have a pH ranging between 4.5-5.2, which is a pretty acidic value. The exact pH value of banana depends on the type of cultivation.

Conversely, ripe bananas have an improved pH value in comparison to unripe ones.

The completely ripe bananas have a pH of approximately 6.5-6.6, which makes them a lot less acidic.

The main acidic constituents of bananas are malic acid, oxalic acid, and citric acid. In chemically treated bananas, these acids are significantly low as compared to naturally ripened bananas.

As the bananas gradually season, the fraction of citric acid and malic acid increases, and that of oxalic acid decreases.

Malic and citric acids are a lot weaker than oxalic acid and therefore the acidity of the fruit decreases with its growth.

In a fully grown ripe banana, the proportion of malic acid is about 50-60 percent, citric acid is about 20-25 percent and oxalic acid is about 10-15 percent.

Due to its pH value being closer to the neutral value of 7, bananas are broadly classified as alkaline fruits and not acidic fruits.

 

Bananas and Acid Reflux

What is Acid Reflux and How does it occur?

Acid reflux is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when the acid or bile from the stomach flows upwards to the food pipe. This leads to irritation in the esophagus lining and can occur frequently.

Acid reflux is usually caused when the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) gets damaged i.e. the valve loses its ability to prevent the contents of the stomach from entering the food pipe.

As a consequence, the separation between the stomach and the food pipe is weakened and the bile paves way upwards, causing inflammation like sensation in the chest.

Does Consumption of Bananas cause Acid reflux?

The answer to the above question is No, bananas do not cause acid reflux. Instead, they help in countering the uneasiness caused by the disorder.

Bananas aid the formation of a protective mucous layer in the stomach, thereby helping in diminishing the magnitude of heartburn and irritation caused by excessive acids.

This fruit is also rich in minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium, and calcium.

From the seedless fruit to its peel, it is completely edible and can be consumed in a number of interesting ways – even as a topping to cereals or in the form of a smoothie or a shake.

The high potassium content (about 350mg Potassium in 100g of Banana) in the full-grown ripe bananas enriches the alkalinity of the fruit and deteriorates the stomach and esophagus acidity considerably.

It even amends the working capabilities of the Sphincter.

So, gorging on the low-acid ripe bananas (in adequate amounts), during the day can help ease the irritations in the abdomen, chest, and neck, balance the stomach acids, and counter acid reflux.

On the contrary, unripe bananas tend to have a more acidic pH value for themselves and are hence capable of triggering acid reflux.

Their potassium content is lower and potassium nitrate dominates the composition. Being a stodgy (indigestible) carbohydrate, potassium nitrates catalyze gut fermentation, thereby amplifying the acid reflux and hence, inflammation.

How bananas help in upholding health?

Fibre Content: Bananas are encumbered with rich soluble as well as insoluble fibers. These fibers break down slowly in the digestive system and keep the stomach occupied for a longer time.

Such fiber-rich fruits reduce the unnecessary intake of food and are good for consumption during breakfast or as snacks.

Counter Acid Reflux: Acid reflux is the flow of acid from the stomach upwards to the food pipe when the LES gets damaged. Bananas also help in forming a protective mucous layer in the stomach.

Being more inclined towards alkaline properties and containing potassium, calcium, and magnesium, ripe bananas help in countering this acid reflux, while unripe do the exact opposite (as they contain potassium nitrate).

Easy Assimilation: Bananas have both sweet and sour constituents. The sugariness ensures a feeling of heaviness.

Owing to the sour nature of the fruit, digestive juices are secreted which boost metabolism and improve digestion.

Due to this property, it is also used as an effective home remedy for digestion related problems.

Nutritional Value: They contain an assortment of nutrients such as carbohydrates, vitamins (especially A and C), calcium, protein, and minerals like potassium, iron, etc.

They are fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free and are thus suitable for consumption during pregnancy or for people concerned with blood pressure.

Completely Edible: The banana peels are not at all poisonous and can be served in cooked, fried, boiled, or crushed (in a blender) form.

The peel is rich in Vitamin B6 and B12, potassium, magnesium, and some fiber, and taste better for ripe bananas.

Improvise Vision: The alkaline fruit banana has a fair amount of Vitamin A, which helps in balancing the normal vision, enhances the eyesight at night, and keeps the eyes healthy.

It helps in the prevention of macular degeneration.

Assist Replenishment of Energy: For people who exercise (especially those attending the gym), bananas are recommended, as they top off the energy consumed and also help achieve electrolyte balance in the human system.

Being a natural energizer, they do not pose side-effects and remove oxidative stress.

 

Conclusion

Bananas tend to be alkaline in nature, with a pH value of approximately 6.5 (when ripe). They are rich in calcium and minerals and suitable for consumption in almost all situations. Gorging on the low-acid ripe bananas (in adequate amounts), during the day can also help ease the irritations in the abdomen, chest, and neck, balance the stomach acids, and counter acid reflux.

One Comment on “pH of Banana — Acidic or Alkaline?”

  1. Well done, informative, educational article. Thanks so much for all the understandable details. I now feel empowered to nibble on a banana throughout the day, when I start feeling hunger cravings.

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