Food is medicine. Bad food can make us sick and tired, but clean food can supercharge your immune system and aid digestion, among many other benefits depending on the kind of snack you choose.
Alkaline foods, in particular, offer a wide variety of helpful boosts to our bodies.
It is all based on the science of acidity vs. alkaline; what makes something acidic or alkaline is where it falls on the pH scale. The pH scale ranges from 0 - 14. Things that are highly acidic clock in at a low pH, while things that are highly alkaline have a high pH. The cutoff that designates something as an acid or alkaline solution is 7.
For comparison’s sake, the pH scale can be explained by the following:
Alkaline foods have been analyzed by clinical researchers for their beneficial effects. Acidic foods have been implicated in health problems like kidney stones and metabolic acidosis. Alternatively, there is evidence that consuming a diet high in alkaline foods can promote better health; it’s hard to disagree when some of the best alkaline foods include green beans, vegetables, and tofu.
Today, I want to look at the top 20 alkaline foods available to you. By the end of this guide, I want you to be armed with the knowledge of these key foods, enough so that you can walk down to your local grocery store and start incorporating them into your diet as soon as today.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vegetable everyone loves to hate tops our list of 20 alkaline foods, because kale is one of the most precious sources of energy available. Rich in vitamins A, E and C, this green leafy vegetable is also highly alkaline and is a great addition to your diet whether it is served raw or cooked.
Kale is currently being studied for its flavenoid content. Flavenoids are a group of nutrients specific to plants (phytonutrients) that are thought to be the reason vegetables are so nutritious. Flavenoids are currently being studied for their anti-inflammatory and possibly anti-cancer properties.
A close second to kale (but possibly more preferred), spinach is another valued alkaline food that is rich in vitamins A and K. There is evidence increased spinach intake can be beneficial for lowering high blood pressure. Spinach, like many of the alkaline foods we will discuss, is readily utilized by the body’s metabolic system.
Both spinach and kale both green leafy vegetables rich in organic nitrates, those of which are demonstrated to improve exercise performance during cardiovascular workouts. There is even evidence that spinach can lead to successful cognitive aging demonstrated in recent rat models. You can add spinach to most foods without changing too much of the flavor
Avocados are the quintessential superfood. They are chockfull of vitamins E,K,C, magnesium and folate -- they are also rich in healthy fats that our cells need to thrive and function well.
Its high folate content is especially interesting. Folate is a known vitamin necessary to reduce the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy, and folate additions are in most prenatal vitamins. Furthermore, this folate content may even have anti-depressive properties, but the science is still being understood.
An antioxidant-rich berry, blueberries are a welcome alkaline food add-on for any smoothie or salad. Daily blueberry consumption is linked to more favorable heart health in the long term, such that individuals that ate them every day reduced their risk for cardiovascular disease by up to 15%.
Further, blueberries are prized for their antioxidant properties, meaning that they reduce the oxidative stress on our bodies that lead to poor aging. These qualities of blueberries are also important for improving our brain health, as well; blueberry supplementation has been linked to better neurocognitive outcomes in older adults in a recent study.
Mangoes are wonderful gemstones in the alkalizing fruit world. They are high in fiber, but also beneficial for digestive health due to their high amylase content. Amylases are especially potent in ripened mangoes, hence their sweeter flavor.
Their vitamin A content is also incredibly high; a serving of mango can provide over a quarter of your daily vitamin A requirements. Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins for healthy vision.
Your parents were right to ask you to eat your broccoli as a child; a cruciferous veggie with a well-rounded vitamin profile, its high fiber content can work wonders for digestion. What makes broccoli so unique is that unlike many other veggies being studied, scientists have come to a consensus that it has one of the highest concentrations of flavanols.
Interestingly, steaming the broccoli may increase its antioxidant properties, but boiling may leech out many of the nutrients that make broccoli so great. Take this into consideration when preparing your veggies, but be sure to include them no matter what.
Tomatoes, very much like avocados, are a pure alkaline fruit with a lot of helpful nutrients to give a much-needed boost. Their lycopene content is also of interest to scientists, who agree that its concentration in tomatoes exceeds that of other fruits.
Lycopene is a carotenoid, a phytonutrient (meaning that is exclusively found in plants) that is responsible for the red hue of tomatoes and other brightly-colored plants. Lycopene is one of the strongest antioxidants and is responsible for a lot of tomatoes benefits to health.
Also referred to as aubergines, eggplants are similar to tomatoes for their known health benefits, but they’re especially high in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are flavonoids that contribute to eggplant’s nutritional value.
Anthocyanins are responsible for eggplant’s violet color, and their concentration exceeds that of other types of violet foods in the same class. Eggplant peel is primarily the best source for this, but eating whole eggplants are always a great choice nutrient-wise.
Another green diamond to add to your routine! Green beans are popular throughout much of the world, and for good reason -- they taste great and are easily incorporated in most recipes due to their mild flavor.
Interesting among the alkaline foods for your body, green beans have a very high silicon content. While silicon content and its relationship to health are still being studied, researchers are aware that our connective tissue and bones need silicon. Green beans, being full of silicon, may prove beneficial for our bones.
Tofu is an alkaline food derived from soybeans, so much of their beneficial effects can be similarly obtained from eating soy-based products. Be sure to look out for only organic soy products, since there is currently some controversy surrounding the modified soy products on the market in the States right now.
Tofu is an almost perfect byproduct of soybean curds; it is low calorie, but a verified source of protein and iron. Tofu is also rich in isoflavones, which can be protective against age-related cardiovascular and cognitive disease.
A great source of fiber while also moderate in fruit sugar, bananas are an alkaline food that can promote better satiety, and help with reducing weight so long as you limit yourself. Bananas are also famed for their pectin content, which is evidenced as having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels in the body.
Bananas are also easy to incorporate in many recipes since the flavor can be both strengthened and easily masked. Banana is a staple of many smoothies, so feel free to experiment to your liking; blending or slicing does not change the alkalinity.
This is where we want to make a clear point that the type of processing matters when determining alkalinity. Eating a food raw, dried, cooked, or boiled has the potential to change much of the chemical makeup that makes the food so beneficial in the first place. This is especially true for apricots.
Apricots are high in alkalinity when served raw, but dried their alkaline content skyrockets; the theory is that dehydrating not only concentrates flavor, but also the nutrients that make apricots healthy. However, proceed with caution if you think dried fruits are a better choice than raw; drying may improve the alkaline profile, but you may end up consuming too many apricots this way. This translates into more calories and sugar, so be conscious of how much you consume.
That’s right, lemons are on this list despite being thought of as “acidic” food. Despite having a high acid content, your metabolism breaks the components down into alkaline byproducts detectable by testing your urine’s pH. Animal models have also demonstrated lemon peel’s appetite suppressant qualities.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A by way of their massive beta carotene content. Beta carotene is metabolized into vitamin A, and without it, your immune system and eyesight suffer. Carrots are also versatile and can be eaten raw, boiled, sliced and grated into smoothies or salads.
Carrots are also a rich source of biotin, which regulates metabolism in humans. Biotin is also important for healthy skin, hair, and nails, so be sure to consider carrots whenever possible.
Red raspberries taste great and are similar to blueberries in their antioxidant content. They have been studied for their disease-fighting properties in metabolic illnesses.
Red raspberries are of particular study due to their availability in the Western diet; they’re very robust fruits and can be incorporated in most recipes without increasing calories too much. Their unique applications in improving memory and reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease dementia are still being understood.
The most formidable aspect of this alkaline fruit for health is its high fiber content. A single pear can provide up to 12% of your daily vitamin C, and rival apples as some of the most plentiful concentrators of flavanols in the alkaline diet.
These foods score moderate on their alkalinity, but their proven health benefits are hard to deny. Like may fruits on this list, they are full of antioxidants, but unique to peaches are their niacin content. Niacin, also known as Vitamin B-3 is a crucial vitamin for our metabolic health. There are even studies looking at niacin for reducing the plaques in the brain that are correlated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Flavoring your food with sea salt can help you avoid a lot of the processing that table salt goes through before reaching your table. However, be cautious; sea salt does not typically supply iodine, a necessary mineral you need that table salt is usually mixed with. You can get more flavor from sea salt with less, so be sure to watch your sodium intake when adding this flavoring to your diet.
This fruit popular in Japan is a seasonal treat that can be a great secret weapon for mixing up your fruit intake with something a little more exotic, but with a mild flavor. They have a high concentration of polyphenols, antioxidants that are readily used by the body.
Interestingly, researchers found that persimmons are superior choices to apples in their ability to fight heart disease. Chemically, they behave similarly to apples, but their concentration of nutrients beats the doctor’s favorite fruit by a mile.
Taro root is a highly starchy alkaline vegetable, but do not let that deter you. The type of starch that taro root is known for is a resistant starch; it is a starch that is not digestible for humans, and thus it behaves like fiber.
Similar to fiber, taro root may be crucial to reducing risks for heart disease and obesity. It has a large amount of potassium, important for nerve function. It may not be as popular as other choices on this list, but its contribution to your health is nearly impossible to ignore.
An alkaline diet can be a healthful way of life, one full of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Science is still trying to understand how pH can impact our essential daily functions, but you’re much better off avoiding highly acidic foods anyways. Acidic foods can lead to heartburn and gastric discomfort.
Check out our new ATH GREENS that contain an alkalized greens blend containing; alfalfa grass, wheatgrass, kale, and spirulina to reduce the acidity in your body and keep you performing at optimal levels.