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Alkaline & Acidic Foods Chart: Understanding The pH Spectrum Of Food

Last updated on October 18, 2019

The body maintains a delicate pH balance. Technically, pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration in solution. The pH scale runs from 0-14. Neutral pH is 7.0. The higher the pH (greater than 7) the more alkaline or basic, while a pH lower than 7 is acidic. Here's a primer on what foods are more acidic or alkaline.

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Acidic Foods And Drinks

Some foods that are especially acidic, or with a pH of 4 or less, include:

  • Carbonated water, soda, and energy drinks
  • Certain dairy products
  • Grains
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Some meats

Alkaline Foods And Drinks

As for foods that are considered alkaline or low-acid foods, here are a few you could consider in your diet:

  • Most vegetables
  • Most fruits
  • Most beans and lentils
  • Soy
  • Fats like olive oil and avocados

For some more examples of which foods are more acidic or alkaline, check out this infographic of the pH spectrum. Note: The graphic details which foods have an acidic or alkalizing effect on the body, rather than the pH level of the foods themselves. For example, some foods (like lemons and limes) have a rather acidic pH, yet they actually have an alkalizing effect on the body.

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What is balanced pH?

Proper pH levels vary throughout your body. Saliva ranges1 between 6.2 to 7.6, while urine is normally more acid2, especially in the morning due to the metabolic process of preparing for elimination. Health hint: when using pH strips to test your urine ignore the first morning pee reading—start with your next bathroom visit.

For good health, ideal blood pH levels need to be slightly alkaline (between 7.365 and 7.45). Sounds simple right? But not quite. That’s because the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning the difference between each whole number is equal to ten not so. Therefore a pH of six is ten times more acidic than a pH of seven. So it takes ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize an acid. For example, a jump from 7 to 6, for example, would take ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize. 7 to 5 = 100 times. 7 to 4 = 1000 times. 7 to 3 = 10,000 times.

Our bodies actually do a great job of keeping our blood pH exactly where it needs to be3. Foods likely don’t have a significant influence on pH levels. But more alkaline foods like leafy greens, sprouts, avocados, and other powerhouse plant foods provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The acidic side of the pH scale also includes healthful foods like tomatoes, whole grains, and beans. Foods that are often considered less health promoting like animal products and refined carbs also fall on the acidic side of the scale, and should be eaten in moderation. 

Your body does go through a complicated process to make sure your blood pH stays balanced. All you have to do is eat a balanced diet to support your body’s natural processes! 

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Kris Carr
Kris Carr
New York Times bestselling author

Kris Carr is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and health advocate. She is the subject and director of the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, which aired on TLC and The Oprah Winfrey Network. Kris is also the author of the award-winning Crazy Sexy Cancer book series. Her latest books, Crazy Sexy Diet and Crazy Sexy Kitchen, will change the way you live, love and eat! Kris regularly lectures at hospitals, wellness centers, corporations such as Whole Foods, and Harvard University. In addition to writing for Kriscarr.com, she regularly contributes articles to The Huffington Post, Prevention.com and Natural Health Magazine. Media appearances include: Good Morning America, Today, The Early Show, CBS Evening News, Access Hollywood, The Doctors, The Gayle King Show, Super Soul Sunday and The Oprah Winfrey Show. As an irreverent foot soldier in the fight against disease, Kris inspires countless people to take charge of their health and happiness by adopting a plant-passionate diet, improving lifestyle practices, and learning to live and love like you really mean it. Her motto: Make juice not war!