Many hot sauces use some of the same ingredients and they are a lot of the same ingredients that cause heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion. Hot peppers are usually not on the list of foods that cause heartburn because they are an alkaline food, not acid-base.
Hot sauce may not be the cause of heartburn unless an individual already suffers from heartburn, GERD or acid reflux disease. The compound responsible for the heat of a hot pepper, capsaicin, can act as a digestive aid. Other common ingredients found in many hot sauces such as garlic, onions and tomatoes can however cause acid reflux because of their acidic levels.
Acid reflux happens when acids in the stomach escape from the valve at the top of the stomach and into the esophagus (webmd.com). If you already suffer from heartburn, acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) eating hot sauce will agitate it further but it is not necessarily the cause. The Surgical Clinics proclaim that there “isn’t a direct medical cause between spicy food and GERD”. Reactions to a hot sauce to include the flavor, heat and indigestion vary greatly from person to person.
Some studies show that hot peppers may help to suppress some symptoms of reflux. This is due to the compound responsible for the heat, capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in all peppers, hot or mild, in various amounts and is also found in other foods that may have some spiciness to them.
Is capsaicin acidic?
Hot peppers contain a substance known as capsaicin and this is the compound that is responsible for the heat but is it also responsible for the amount of acid in a hot sauce? The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it has but capcasin is on the alkaline side of the pH scale.
According to sciencenote.com capsaicin is an alkaline oil. Alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables are a healthy dietetic lifestyle. Capsaicin is known to contribute to many health benefits to the human body. One of the benefits discovered that capsaicin can do is used as a digestive aid and can minimize symptoms of heartburn.
Are hot peppers acidic or alkaline?
Testing a hot pepper mash for pH is the best way to determine if they are alkaline or acidic. This can be measured with a simple pH meter by blending the peppers into a sauce or measurements can be taken whole if your meter has a probe.
Hot peppers are a high alkaline food and do not create an acidic environment until they are mixed with other ingredients. Hot peppers are often mixed with substances like vinegar, citrus garlic or tomatoes to make a hot sauce. This creation can be very acidic and could cause heartburn and could cause heartburn without the hot peppers. However, everyone reacts differently to different foods.
Regularly eating hot peppers can reduce symptoms of reflux because capsaicin may be protecting the stomach lining.However, many hot sauces contain typical ingredients that do cause heartburn such as garlic, onions, tomatoes, citrus and vinegar. However, many hot sauces contain ingredients that lean toward the alkaline side of the scale such as carrots, water and oils.
Where does the acid in a hot sauce come from?
The acid in a hot sauce can come from several ingredients or a combination of ingredients such as vinegar, citrus or garlic but that is not an all-inclusive list of every acidic ingredient in hot sauce. Many foods are also acidic such as coffee, alcohol and fatty meats but these are not commonly used in hot sauces. Although some gourmet and artisan hot sauces are known for exotic ingredients.
A vinegar additive is typical in many hot sauces and other condiments but there are alternatives. However, some of the other alternatives are just as acidic as vinegar. Water would allow for the contents to become liquify without creating an acidic environment.
Does the heat level affect the alkaline or acid level of a hot pepper?
There is very little capsaicin in a bell pepper which has no heat level to it. The hotter the pepper the more capsaicin they have therefore they will have more benefits from what the capsaicin can provide. If you can tolerate the heat from hot peppers then you can reap a lot of benefits from the capsaicin such as boosting weight loss and fighting inflammation.
According to refluxmd.com the capsaicin binds to receptors in the stomach and increases gastric motility to escalate the movement of food. Foods that sit in the stomach longer are more prone to create heartburn or reflux. Eating more hot peppers can aid against heartburn but you may need to reduce the amount of hot sauce consumed or reduce the amount of acid in your homemade sauce.
How do you reduce the acid of hot sauce?
Avoiding hot sauce to reduce your acidic intake is too easy and who wants to live without such a tasty and flavorful condiment. You can choose a sauce without the ingredients that may typically trigger heartburn.
There are plenty of hot sauces on the market without ingredients like tomatoes, garlic and citrus that cause heartburn. These are all ingredients that taste great, are healthy for you and blend well with hot peppers. The best method would be to TRY THEM ALL one at a time and determine which one causes heartburn (if any) for you but that is nearly impossible. However, knowing which key ingredients trigger heartburn and selecting a sauce with them is a good start.
How to reduce the acidity of a homemade hot sauce
You can also reduce the acid in a hot sauce by making your own. That way you can control the number of ingredients of the sauce and eliminate anything that will increase the acid. Many ingredients will not taste the same or have the same reaction in your hot sauce if reduce their acidity by simply watering them down.
Can the acid level of individual ingredients be reduced?
Lemon juice can be used minimally to reduce the amount of acid in a hot sauce. Lemon juice can be more acidic than tomatoes and vinegar. Usually, a substitute for lemon juice, like lime juice will be just as acidic.
The acidity in a tomato can be reduced by removing the seeds, cooking them with small amounts of baking soda and using the ripest tomato or using a variety that is not red. As the lemon juice, a reduced amount can be used in the hot sauce.
Raw garlic will have the most acidity but it isn’t usually put into a sauce in this form. Puree the raw garlic with lemon juice and it will reduce its acidity. Replacing garlic with other ingredients like fennel, celery or celery root.
Like many of the ingredients on this list the acidity of an onion can be reduced through methods of cooking. A raw onion in a hot sauce will have a very pungent flavor and will take over the aroma of the sauce.
Apple cider vinegar has a higher pH than distilled white vinegar, which is probably the most acidic of them all. Like most vinegar apple cider vinegar has a distinct taste to it so be careful before you go changing an entire recipe just to make it less acidic.
Many varieties of hot sauce contain salt and some of them use a high amount. While a diet high in sodium can be unhealthy but there is no indication that salt can lead to heartburn unless you already suffer from acid reflux or GERD.
Should I test hot sauce before eating eat?
People are just not accustomed and don’t have the apparatus to pH test the foods they consume. Also, the acidity of hot sauces will have different effects on different people. Identifying a hot sauce and pinpointing if it causes heartburn is the best way to determine if you should continue eating it or not.
What does the acidity to do the body?
While is impossible to change the pH level of your blood with food, too much acidic food can harm the human body. Acid-forming diets will cause a loss of bone mineral density called osteoporosis. It is probably very difficult to consume so much acidic hot sauce in your diet that it will cause you to suffer from such a condition.
Follow the serving suggestion on your favorite hot sauce bottle, eat in moderation and understand that the body does need some acidic foods. These should be obtained from fruits, meats and sugar in limited amounts. Hot sauce can fall under this category as well.