Citric acid is a natural compound found in many fruits and vegetables but it is especially more concentrated in citrus fruits such as lemons. It is what gives citrus fruits their sour taste.
It is one of the most common food additives primarily because it adds acidity, enhances flavors, and acts as a preservative by prolonging and extending the shelf life of many foods.
It seems like a pretty hard-to-avoid ingredient given its widespread use, but there are actually still products that are low in or free from citric acid.
Drinks Without Citric Acid
Some drinks that have no citric acid or low amounts of citric acid include pure water, unflavored green tea, chamomile tea, banana smoothie, coconut water, apple juice, almond milk, rice milk, spinach juice, and watermelon juice.
10 Drinks Without Citric Acid
Because it is so effective as a flavoring agent and as a preservative, citric acid seems almost inescapable in the world of commercial food.
It is possible, however, to find foods and drinks that are low in citric acid, or almost free from it, in case you find that you have an intolerance or sensitivity to it or find that you just wish to avoid it.
Below are some drinks that either have no citric acid, or have very low citric acid content.
1. Pure Water
If you want to drink something naturally citric-acid-free, look no further than pure water. To say that water is important is an understatement; water is absolutely crucial to our survival and the survival of pretty much anything in the world.
Water has a pH value of 7, which is neutral on the scale, and is vital in many of our bodily processes. The human body is actually made up of up to 60% water, which only goes to show how important it is that we get enough of it everyday.
2. Green Tea
Plain, unflavored green tea is another drink that is free from citric acid, and has lots of touted health-promoting benefits.
According to Penn Medicine, green tea is very high in flavonoids which help promote heart health and maintain healthy cholesterol levels and healthy blood pressure. It is also anti-inflammatory, possesses antioxidant properties that help improve skin health, and it boosts immunity.
Research has also suggested that compounds in green tea may help ward off certain cancers. Matcha, a form of green tea, is found to be an even more potent source of antioxidants that promote health.
It is important to read the labels, though, to make sure you are only getting pure, unflavored green tea as some of the flavored ones would have citric acid as a preservative or flavoring agent.
3. Chamomile Tea
In its purest form, chamomile tea is low in citric acid, although as we mentioned earlier, it is important to constantly read labels to make sure that what you are getting is really citric acid-free.
Chamomile tea promotes relaxation and sleep and has calming effects on the body. A study revealed that it greatly helps with pain in women relating to their menstrual cycle, and it has been shown to help lower blood sugar which may be helpful to those with diabetes.
It has anti-inflammatory properties and may also help calm skin conditions.
4. Banana Smoothie
Bananas are delicious, healthy fruits that contain low levels of citric acid. They are high in fiber that helps with digestion and contain vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, B, C, manganese, and magnesium which are vital for various processes in the body. The vitamin B6 it contains is also great for your skin.
They are also rich in potassium, which, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, plays a very important role in ensuring the proper functioning of our heart and muscles.
They are also low-calorie, versatile, and work very well in smoothies. Banana smoothies, especially when mixed with other low-citric acid vegetables like spinach, and some almond milk, make a delicious, low-citric-acid green smoothie.
5. Coconut Water
I’m sure you have heard of coconut water, that trendy beverage that is so popular in the health and wellness industry. But what is it actually? Coconut water is that sweet, clear liquid found inside a coconut, distinctly different from coconut milk or coconut cream.
It is actually quite common to see people in the Philippines, or other countries where coconuts grow, just make a hole in the coconut itself, put in a straw, and drink the water just like that. In the U.S. though, we typically see it already bottled and packaged.
Coconut water is very hydrating and is rich in electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium, and can help replenish lost fluids and nutrients. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is low in sugar and calories and is cholesterol-free and fat-free, too.
Check the label to make sure you are getting a bottle with no other added ingredients, and no citric-acid.
6. Apple Juice
Apples are naturally low in citric acid, and it naturally follows that apple juice will be as well, especially if you juice them yourself from fresh apples.
Apples are high in fiber and help with digestive health. They boost immunity, lower cholesterol and support heart health. They are hydrating and contain vitamin C which boosts immunity.
Apples also contain quercetin, which helps protect brain cells from damage and decay that causes memory loss.
Apple juice is also delicious, and is a great way to supplement your daily hydration.
7. Almond Milk
Almond milk is milk that is made from almonds and is a healthy plant-based alternative to dairy milk. It also contains naturally low amounts of citric acid. It is rich in vitamin E which is an important antioxidant that helps lower the risk of strokes, heart disease, and some cancers.
It is lower in calories compared to dairy milk, helps you lose and manage weight, and is low in carbohydrates, so it is suitable for those limiting their carb intake. Plus, it is not that difficult to make at home.
It is also quite easy to find in stores but for ready-made almond milk, just make sure to read the labels to ensure that you aren’t getting ingredients you do not want.
8. Rice Milk
Rice milk is another plant-based dairy milk alternative that does not naturally contain citric acid. Of all the plant-based milk options like nut milk and soy milk, rice milk is the one that is least allergenic.
Rice milk is a good source of Vitamin A, D, and B12, and also provides a good amount of calcium. It is lower in fat but also low in protein compared to its counterparts.
9. Spinach Juice
Spinach is extremely nutritious and is a great addition to our diets both in food form and juice form.
Spinach is very high in antioxidants which helps prevent chronic diseases stemming from damage to the cells.
It is good for our eyes, hair, and skin, and it can help us grow and build our muscles (Popeye was on to something). Spinach may also help reduce blood pressure and reduce the growth of cancer cells.
You can buy ready-made spinach juice but it is also easy to juice it yourself. To make it more palatable, add other low citric acid fruits like bananas, apples or beets.
10. Watermelon Juice
Watermelon is another low-citric-acid fruit that boasts a ton of health benefits. It is made of over 90% water so it is a great choice alongside water for your hydration needs.
An antioxidant called lycopene, responsible for the red pigment in fruits, helps curb cancer and diabetes risk, and watermelon has an abundance of it. In fact, according to the USDA, it even contains 40% more lycopene than tomatoes!
Watermelon juice also helps with eye, skin and heart health, promotes weight loss and protects joints from inflammation.
What Is Citric Acid?
Citric acid is an acid that is naturally occurring in citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and grapefruit. It is generally considered to be a weak acid, measuring between 3-6 on the pH scale, but it is the one responsible for the distinct, sour taste in citrus fruits.
Citric acid is found all over nature, and it is naturally produced in the process of cellular respiration. It is an important component that helps with the efficient use and metabolization of energy from food in all living organisms, including humans. It is produced through what is known as the Krebs cycle, or simply, citric acid cycle.
What Is Citric Acid Used For?
Citric acid is used in food for the following reasons:
- To add flavor to food or enhance the flavor of food
- To add a sour taste
- Increase acidity
- Improve food consistency
- To extend the shelf life of food by slowing down the growth of bacteria and pathogens
Besides food applications, it is also a common ingredient in household disinfectants and cleaners. We know that lemons are excellent degreasers and disinfectants, right? Well, it’s partly because of citric acid. Citric acid helps prevent the build-up of dirt and gunk, and is an effective household cleaner.
Apart from this, citric acid is also a common ingredient in skin cosmetic products and personal care products. It is also an ingredient in some types of medicines and supplements.
What Are Other Names for Citric Acid?
Other names for citric acid include “sour salt” and “Sodium citrate”. If you are avoiding citric acid, make sure to diligently check ingredient labels for these alternative names.
Is All Citric Acid From Citrus Fruits?
Knowing how much of our food stuff includes citric acid, it is natural to wonder where all this citric acid comes from. Is there a lemon or citrus island somewhere with endless supplies of lemons that provides us with all the citric acid we will ever need?
While citric acid is available from natural sources, most of the citric acid that is widely used is processed commercially.
It is actually made through the fermentation of yeast and fungus. Molasses, sugar or other types of starchy carbohydrates are fed to the yeast and fungus, and as a natural by-product, they produce citric acid. This is what is harvested and packed for commercial use.
Interesting note, they actually use black mold for this process, because this fungus which is very effective at turning sugars and starches into citric acid. I know this can be a bit unsettling, but it is actually considered by the FDA to be safe, so there’s no need to worry unless you have a mold allergy.
Frequently Asked Questions to 10 Drinks Without Citric Acid
What Are Some Foods Without Citric Acid?
Some examples of foods with no or low citric acid include bananas, apples, almonds, spinach, zucchini, rice, mushrooms, and unprocessed meat.
What Are Fruits Without Citric Acid?
Fruits without citric acid or with very low levels of citric acid include bananas, avocados, coconuts, apples, watermelons, and grapes.
Does Sprite Have Citric Acid?
Soda that is citrus-flavored will often have citric acid in the ingredients. Sprite contains citric acid.
Does Beer Have Citric Acid?
Beer contains citric acid as a natural byproduct of yeast fermentation, and sometimes as a flavoring agent.
Conclusion to 10 Drinks Without Citric Acid
Water, unflavored green tea, chamomile tea, almond, and rice milk, and drinks made from fruits like bananas, apples, coconuts, and watermelon, as well as vegetables like spinach, all contain very little amounts of citric acid, if any.
For drinks especially, it is common to see citric acid on the label, but if you do it yourself and choose fruits and ingredients that are naturally low in citric acid, there is still a way to avoid this seemingly unavoidable ingredient.