The human body is designed to be alkaline and it functions properly in this state. The optimum pH for our blood and body tissues ranges from 7.35 to 7.45. This is slightly above the neutral pH level.
However, the foods that most of us eat cause our bodies to be in a constant state of acidity.
You can put the blame on the excessive intake of processed food, sodas, junk food, meat, eggs, and dairy products, all of which account for a heavy dietary acid load, while we remain insufficiently low in base-forming minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Such an acidic environment within the body serves as the breeding ground for a number of ailments. To add to your woes, an acidic diet also renders you quite beat as it is associated with reduced oxygen supply to the cells for energy synthesis.
The alkaline base-forming minerals are associated with a significant and rapid increase in blood and urinary pH and a long-term increase in urinary pH after 1 week of supplementation.
The ingestion of alkaline mineral-rich fruits and vegetables can help offset the acidogenic nutrients that dominate prevailing diets and thereby regulate an optimum and stable acid-base balance.(1)
Conversely, continued reliance on animal protein and other acid-heavy dietary elements without proper supplementation of alkaline foods can raise the acidic content of urine, which is associated with high uric acid levels and cystine stone formation, among other health issues.(2)
The solution to this problem is an alkaline diet, which will help balance the pH level of the fluids in the body, including the blood and urine.
Several foods are alkaline in nature and can help properly balance your pH levels to reduce daily ailments and the possibility of certain long-term health risks.(1) There a number of reasons an alkaline diet generously supplied with fruits and vegetables is just what the doctor orders.
By improving the potassium to sodium ratio in the body, alkaline foods can help lower your risk of hypertension and stroke as well as support musculoskeletal health and reduce muscle wasting. Alkaline diets can also be attributed for a spike in intracellular magnesium, which plays an indispensable role in the functioning of several important enzyme systems.
Magnesium is also essential for the activation of vitamin D and helps facilitate the vitamin D apocrine/exocrine systems. An alkaline diet also brings in its wake a significant increase in growth hormone, which can engender longstanding benefits in terms of memory and cognition as well as improved cardiovascular health.
Moreover, alkaline foods help enhance the beneficial effects of certain chemotherapeutic agents, which require a higher pH to work at their optimum best.(3)
The pH scale that is used to gauge the blood’s acidity can help sort out the foods we eat as acidic, alkaline, or neutral by taking into account the residue that’s left in the body once the food has been metabolized.
The conversion of food into energy involves a slow and controlled chemical reaction within the body, which leaves behind metabolic waste. This acidic load of this waste has a direct bearing on our blood’s pH.
Some foods may exhibit acidic properties but end up having an alkalizing effect on the body once metabolized. Lemon, for example, is thought to be acidic given its pungent taste and corrosive properties that can erode our tooth enamel.
However, once it’s broken down for energy in the body, lemon leaves the blood alkaline. Thus, certain foods can prove to be quite dichotomous and should not be dismissed as acidic simply on face value as they can “turn” alkaline in the body.
Foods that are Alkaline in Nature
Here are 10 alkaline foods you should eat to improve your health.
Even though you may not believe that lemons are a must on the high-alkaline list, it is true.
Lemons are extremely high in alkaline minerals, such as potassium (38 mg potassium/oz),(4) that have alkalizing effects on the body. The citric acid in them is highly acidic in a natural state, but once consumed, the citric acid gets metabolized and has a wonderful alkaline effect on the body.
Lemons are a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin A, C, and B-complex, as well as pectin fiber and carbohydrates.(5)
They also contain potent antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers.(6) Ideally, you are advised to consume one lemon a day but have no more than two lemons because you may end up with an upset the stomach and damaged teeth.
To reap the alkalizing benefit of lemons, just squeeze the juice from ½ of a lemon into a glass of purified, lukewarm water. Drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and wait 30 minutes before eating your breakfast.
Spinach, one of the healthiest leafy greens,(8) is highly alkaline in nature. It is richly endowed with potassium (1 cup or 30 g of spinach contains 167 mg of potassium), which acts as a therapeutic alkalizing agent.(9)
It is also loaded with minerals that provide the body with amazing alkaline effects, such as manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, and folate. Plus, it is loaded with dietary fiber, flavonoids, and carotenoids.
By increasing your spinach intake, you can boost your protein levels, fight anemia, improve your heart health, prevent premature aging, reduce your risk of cancer, and enjoy healthy skin.
Aim for at least 1 cup of spinach daily. You can add it to your salads, smoothies, juice, sandwiches, stir-fries, and main dishes.
Do your health a favor and treat yourself to a serving of avocado every day. This flavorsome fruit is not only easy on the taste buds, but it also works as a wonderful alkalizing agent, where 1 cup of pureed avocado contains approximately 1166 mg of potassium.(10)
The rich creamy flesh of avocados is packed with more than 25 essential nutrients. It is treasured among health circles for striking the perfect balance between good amounts of unsaturated fatty acids and low levels of unhealthy cholesterol, which makes it conducive to preserving cardiovascular health.
The fruit is also acknowledged for its health-promoting lipidic composition, which boasts high levels of phytosterols, squalene, tocopherols, and omega fatty acids.(11)
In addition to a heavy dose of antioxidants, avocados also wrap within their layers a considerable sprinkling of fat-soluble vitamins, which are less common in other fruits, besides its high levels of potassium, protein, fiber, and magnesium.
You should try to eat at least ½ of avocado daily. Opt for organic avocados, whenever possible.
You can include it in a salad, smoothies, or soups. Another option is to make tasty guacamole, a popular Mexican dish.
Kale is another alkaline food that you should definitely include in your diet as it can counter the acid and alkalize the body.
This nutritious leafy green member of the Brassica vegetable group is very high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C and rich is in calcium, potassium, and iron.(12)
Another health-promoting facet of kale’s composition is an abundant supply of carotenoids, namely, lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which exhibit potent eye-protective activity against macular degeneration.
Plus, this power-packed food offers a wide array of other health perks, including significant antioxidant and anticancer activity, reduced bad cholesterol levels, prevention of coronary artery disease, effective weight management, and improved immunity.(13)
Set a goal to eat this green vegetable about four times per week. You can make kale chips or use the leaves in tasty smoothies, soups, or salads. The suggested serving size is from 1½ to 2 cups.
You can also benefit from the alkalizing prowess of yet another health-promoting leafy green, namely, celery, which can balance the pH of the body by neutralizing the dietary acid load. Celery contains 260 mg of potassium per 100 g.
Celery contains vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, and P and minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.(14)
Celery is also touted as a negative-calorie food, which essentially means that it contains fewer calories than those you burn while chewing and digesting it. Water being its major component, celery helps hydrate and nourish the cells in your body.
Not just that, this water-rich vegetable also functions as a cleansing agent; it helps flush out toxins through its diuretic effect that rids the body of excess fluids.(15)
Just two to three celery stalks per day are enough to keep your body alkaline. You can also add it to your salads, soups, or smoothies.
Another lesser-known food that can just as effectively lower the acidic pH of your body to the optimally alkaline range is wheatgrass (4000 mg potassium/100 g of wheatgrass).
Besides its alkalizing attributes, wheatgrass also serves as a dietary reservoir of several nutrients that are a boon for your body. It is a rich source of chlorophyll and vitamins, including vitamins A, B-complex, C, and D. It also contains manganese, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium.(17)
Owing to its nutrient-heavy profile, wheatgrass can contribute to better energy levels, bolstered immunity, weight loss, blood sugar regulation, heart health preservation, and cancer prevention, to name just a few of its health gains.
You can make fresh juice out of the raw wheatgrass plant and drink 1 to 2 ounces of it daily. You can drink plain wheatgrass juice in concentrate form or dilute it with some fruit or vegetable juice.
Wheatgrass powder is also available in the market. Add 1 teaspoon of the powder to a glass of water, stir it well, and drink it.
Cucumbers are another healthy addition to an alkaline diet (76 mg potassium/cup of sliced cucumber).(18)
The nutritional profile of cucumbers is very impressive.
It contains carbohydrates (sugar, dietary fiber), fats, proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (folate), C, vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, etc.(18)
Besides being low in calories, these water-logged greens exhibit significant health-friendly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.(19)
Including cucumbers in your diet can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, improve digestion, lower blood sugar levels, and fight different types of cancer.(19)(20) Being high in water content (95%), they also keep the body hydrated.
You can munch on fresh cucumbers as a healthy snack or add them to your salads or sandwiches. You can use cucumbers as a base for practically every alkaline soup, smoothie, and juice.
Broccoli figures as one of the top-ranking alkaline vegetables rich in the supply of one of the key base-forming minerals: potassium (316 mg potassium/100 g broccoli).(21) The added benefits that come in the form of alkalizing phytochemicals further merit the inclusion of this cruciferous vegetable in your diet.
What makes broccoli even more nutritionally robust is the fact that it has the perfect mix of a variety of vitamins, such as A, B6, C, K, and E, along with essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.(21)
Moreover, it is also associated with significant antioxidant goodness on account of the flavonoids, polyphenols, and anthocyanin present in it.(22)
Apart from alkalizing the body, broccoli helps fight cancer, improves digestion, boosts the cardiovascular system, improves immunity, supports skin health, boosts metabolism, and lots more.
Try to eat broccoli at least four times a week. You can enjoy it steamed or roasted. You can also put it in salads, juices, smoothies, and soups.
A true miracle food, garlic is another alkaline food (401 mg potassium/100 g, 181 mg calcium/100 g, and 25 mg magnesium/100 g of raw garlic) that promotes good overall health.(23)
The main compound in garlic is allicin, which helps bring down elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels through its involvement in different body mechanisms.(24)
Garlic is also prized for its nutrient-dense composition, which includes vitamin B1, B6, and C, as well as manganese, calcium, copper, and selenium. The potent antioxidant properties of garlic also add to its healthy charm.(23)
Garlic aids detoxification by increasing the production of glutathione, which helps filter toxins from the digestive system.
To enjoy the alkaline benefit of garlic, it must be crushed or chopped in order to release the beneficial sulfur compounds. Consume two to four fresh garlic cloves every day to help keep your body’s pH at an optimal level.
You can even stir-fry alkaline vegetables with a couple of cloves of garlic and enjoy!
10. Bell Peppers
Be it red, green, or yellow, bell peppers are highly alkaline in nature (211 mg potassium/100 g bell peppers). They help transform acidic foods, raising the body’s overall alkaline level.
Bell pepper is a rich source of alkaloids (capsaicin), fatty acids, flavonoids, volatile oils, and carotene pigments. It is rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and zinc, two nutrients that are vital for a strong and healthy immune system. It is high in vitamin A, rutin (a bioflavonoid), beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and potassium.
It also contains magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur, B-complex vitamins, sodium and selenium.(25)
Try to eat three to four servings of bell peppers per week. One serving is equal to 1 cup of chopped, raw peppers or 2 small peppers. You can include bell peppers in your diet in raw, baked, roasted, grilled, cooked, or stuffed form.
You can incorporate some other alkalizing foods and beverages into your diet as well, such as:
- Mustard greens
- Apple cider vinegar
- Pumpkin seeds
- Ripe bananas
- König D, Muser K, Dickhuth H- H. Effect of a supplement rich in alkaline minerals on acid-base balance in humans. Nutrition Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702352/. Published June 10, 2009.
- A WC, NM. Urinary pH and stone formation. The University of Zurich. https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/45805/. Published 2010.
- Schwalfenberg GK. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/. Published October 12, 2011.
- PENNISTON KRISTINAL, NAKADA STEPHENY, HOLMES ROSSP. Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice Products. Journal of Endourology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637791/. Published February 9, 2009.
- Basic Report: 09150, Lemons, raw, without the peel. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09150. Published April 2018.
- Chaturvedi D, Suhane N, Shrivastava RR. BASKETFUL BENEFIT OF CITRUS LIMON. International Research Journal of Pharmacy. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304995022. Published July 2016.
- Chambial S, Dwivedi S, Shukla KK. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783921/. Published September 1, 2013.
- Roberts JL, Moreau R. Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals, and bioactive. Food and Function. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/fo/c6fo00051g#!divAbstract. Published June 22, 2016.
- Basic Report: 11457, Spinach, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11457. Published April 2018.
- Basic Report: 09038, Avocados, raw, California. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09038. Published April 2018.
- Duarte PF, Chaves MA, Borges CD. Avocado: characteristics, health benefits and uses. Química Nova. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-84782016000400747. Published 2016.
- Basic Report: 11233, Kale, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11233. Published April 2018.
- Kale. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/kale/. Published May 30, 2018.
- Basic Report: 11143, Celery, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11143. Published April 2018.
- Tyagi S. MEDICAL BENEFITS OF APIUM GRAVEOLENS (CELERY HERB). Journal of Drug Discovery And Therapeutics. http://jddt.in/index.php/jddt/article/view/73. Published 2013.
- Dianat M, Veisi A, Ahangarpour A. The effect of hydro-alcoholic celery (Apiumgraveolens) leaf extract on cardiovascular parameters and lipid profile in an animal model of hypertension induced by fructose. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4469955/. Published 2015.
- Full Report (All Nutrients): 45343239, ORGANIC WHEATGRASS JUICE POWDER, UPC: 858847000154. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/45343239. Published April 2018.
- Basic Report: 11205, Cucumber, with peel, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11205. Published April 2018.
- Moreno CT-, Martínez MM-, Zamilpa A. Cucumis sativus Aqueous Fraction Inhibits Angiotensin II-Induced Inflammation and Oxidative Stress In Vitro. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872694/. Published February 28, 2018.
- Tuama AA, Mohammedb AA. Phytochemical screening and in vitro antibacterial and anticancer activities of the aqueous extract of Cucumis sativus. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319562X18301736. Published July 31, 2018.
- Basic Report: 11090, Broccoli, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11090. Published April 2018.
- Mahn A, Reyes A. An overview of health-promoting compounds of broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Italica) and the effect of processing. Food Science and Technology International. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1082013211433073. Published November 21, 2012.
- Basic Report: 11215, Garlic, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11215. Published April 2012.
- McRae MP. A review of studies of garlic (Allium sativum) on serum lipids and blood pressure before and after 1994: does the amount of allicin released from garlic powder tablets play a role? Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647046/. Published 2005.
- Basic Report: 11821, Peppers, sweet, red, raw. USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11821. Published April 2018.