How much do you know about alkalines vs acids? Are you aware that the body has a pH balance between the two? On the pH scale, a rating of 0 is completely acidic, while a rating of 14 is completely alkaline. If you’ve heard about alkaline diets, this delicate balance is the focus of such culinary choices. Naturally speaking, the human body is slightly more alkaline than acidic; however, an improperly balanced diet can make your body’s pH levels swing one way or the other, which isn’t good for long-term health. Is your body too acidic? Consider these alkaline-rich foods:
15. Swiss Chard
Like most leafy greens, swiss chard is packed with vitamins and minerals. It contains iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C, which make it a great choice to help power up the immune system. The potassium is especially essential for heart health, unlike sodium, which in excess harms the heart. It hardens the blood vessels and makes them less flexible, while potassium loosens up the blood vessels, which can help to bring blood pressure down because the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to move blood. Swiss chard is a low sodium, low sugar food, making it diabetic friendly.
Buckwheat is an alkaline neutral food that can easily help bring your body back into balance. Like swiss chard, it is an incredible source of potassium, which helps the heart; however, it also contains a large amount of protein as well, which makes it a suitable alternative to meat for vegan and vegetarian diets. Furthermore, given that buckwheat has a neutral pH, it is a better source of protein than most meats, which tend to fall on the acidic side of the balance. It also packs loads of fiber, which make it much easier to digest than other food options.
While fruit juices tend to rank low on the pH scale, making them acidic, melon is midrange, which makes it relatively balanced. Another significant advantage to melon is the water content; because most types of melon have such high water content, they can help the body stay hydrated. They are also decent sources of fiber, and despite tasting sweet, do not cause significant changes to blood sugar. Typically, it is the processing of foods that makes them more acidic, which is why fruit juice is so acidic, yet most varieties of fruit are typically more alkaline on the pH scale.Related: Amazing Health Benefits of Watermelons
12. Olive Oil
You might not think of olive oil as a food, per se, so much as a medium by which to prepare actual meals; regardless of your reasons, it is worthwhile to include olive oil in the diet. For starters, it is healthier than other oils like corn or canola, containing significant amounts of healthy fat and cholesterol. These can actually boost heart health. Olive oil by some measures is actually slightly acidic, but it still provides numerous health benefits. According to some sources, olive oil contains powerful antioxidants which can boost the immune system and reduce the odds of getting cancer.
Don’t let their size fool you; grapes are a nutrient powerhouse. Aside from a smattering of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium, they contain high levels of polyphenols, a special type of antioxidant. Specifically, polyphenols are effective at reducing the odds of developing several types of cancer, including lung, pancreatic, colon, and prostate cancer. Additionally, they are thought to play a key role in preventative heart health by reducing hypertension (high blood pressure). Some research also indicates that grape seed extract may be able to help with circulation and eye health, among other numerous conditions.
10. Flax Seed
Depending on the form you consume it, flax can be acidic or alkaline. Taken in seed form, it is mildly acidic, but when consumed as an oil, it is more alkaline. Nutritionally speaking, however, flax is incredible. It contains a significant level of B vitamins, as well as fiber, potassium, zinc, and magnesium, which regulate the digestive and circulatory systems. In oil form, it also contributes to heart health because it contains helpful fatty acids. It also contains a small level of protein. It’s easy to add flax as a nutritional filler to shakes or to sprinkle on other dishes.
Bananas are often mentioned when it comes to healthy eating; this is due largely in part to their potassium content. However, heart health is not the only benefit that bananas provide. They also provide sugars which boost energy levels but don’t drastically alter blood sugar levels. They help with digestion and generally elevate the mood as well. They contain a significant amount of B vitamins which gives them a host of benefits. To get the most nutrition out of your bananas, try not to eat them too early; wait until they are overripe with lots of brown and black spots.
Avocados are a popular fad food coming away from a formerly poor reputation; they are a fatty fruit, specifically one that contains omega-3 fatty acids (the good kind of fat) which make them good for your blood pressure and your cholesterol. Additionally, they are a solid source of potassium, which likewise contributes to heart health. They can help you absorb nutrients from other food that you consume, and because of their fiber, they facilitate easy digestion. If you aren’t too keen on eating them straight, they are easy to consume as guacamole, or part of salads, omelets, or other dishes.Related: 11 Avocado Facts You Should Know Before Eating Another One
While many fruits are alkaline in nature, berries tend to be low alkaline, and sometimes even acidic, depending on the type. However, don’t let the word acidic fool you, particularly in relation to berries. Consider the primary benefit of berries, particularly blueberries and blackberries, is the abundance of antioxidants found in them. Antioxidants are responsible for inhibiting foreign bodies or processes that left unchecked, would otherwise damage or ‘age’ cell tissue, increasing the risk of cancer. Like most fruits, berries tend to provide a smattering of other benefits, such as sugar for energy, and Vitamin C, which bolsters immune health.
When it comes to food, chances are if it’s green, it’s good for you. Broccoli is no exception. Like other greens, it is rich in vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins A, B-6, and surprisingly, vitamin C. A moderately alkaline food, broccoli contains very little sodium and even small levels of potassium and protein, which can help vegan and vegetarian eaters reach their daily needs. Broccoli can help keep your cholesterol under control. If you want to get the most out of your broccoli, raw is the way; can’t stomach that? Try steaming it to lock in some of the nutrients.
Broccoli’s pale cousin, this cruciferous vegetable is also an alkaline food, though less so. Specifically, it helps to control inflammation, and a single serving can make up most of the daily required vitamin C, so if you’re not too fond of fruits, it is a viable alternative. It has more potassium than broccoli and can provide nearly as much energy. Though it is a little more palatable raw than broccoli, the same cooking advice applies; steam it to keep those nutritional benefits. As a bonus, cauliflower’s versatility makes it a great substitute for other foods in vegan/vegetarian dishes.
You might be surprised to see lemons on this list; lemons, and other citrus fruits, are known for their citric acid, but the truth is, citric acid is fairly mild. Lemons are a high alkaline food due to the way the body breaks down and metabolizes lemon juice. Lemons are also rich in vitamin C. They have some antioxidant properties, which can help stave off cancer. Lemon is also thought to indirectly fight ailments like kidney stones and scurvy, which can affect the body when there are low citrate levels in the body, or a lack of vitamin C, respectively.
Spinach is another leafy green for your list. It contains appreciable levels of potassium and iron, but where it really shines is its vitamin A and folate content, which helps to build and repair the body at the DNA level. Spinach also contains significant levels of calcium, although it is easier to make use of calcium from other sources; while raw spinach is the best way to go, it is a little more forgiving than other foods in that it retains its nutritional value better when frozen, steamed, or boiled. Try putting it in salads to get the most nutrition.
At some point, you’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyesight. This is because of the vitamin A, or more specifically, beta-carotene, in carrots helps the retina and other parts of the eyes to function smoothly. However, the benefits of carrots are not limited only to the eyes. Carrots are a mildly alkaline food that can help many systems within your body. For example, they help keep your hair and skin healthy too, by keeping them glossy and fresh. They also provide a host of other vitamins, including some B vitamins, vitamins C and K, and also potassium.
No list of healthy foods is complete without quinoa. Its nutrition content blows other grains out of the water, outperforming rice with easily twice the fiber. It also provides significant levels of lysine, which bolsters the immune system, and a handful of other vitamins in minerals. Perhaps most importantly, quinoa’s protein content is impressive; a 100 gram serving of quinoa proves over 20% of the recommended daily allowance of protein, along with fiber to ease digestion, and carbohydrates to provide energy. Quinoa is also really easy to add to soups, smoothies, or cereals, and is quite tasty on its own.
Remember, being too alkaline is just as harmful as being too acidic. Make sure to include some acidic foods in your diet to maintain a proper balance. Too much of any one food or nutrient can actually harm the body, so try and balance your meals wisely. Paying attention to the sugars, fats, vitamins, and minerals in everything you eat, not just the pH balance, is the secret to a long and healthy life.