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Our bodies work hard to keep us healthy… and we don’t even have to pay attention.

For example, our white blood cells are constantly on the lookout for infections, allergens, and other invaders that need to be fought. Our liver is continuously in detox mode to process and eliminate whatever contaminants we encounter in our everyday environment, body care products, and food. And our metabolism is on a constant quest to keep our blood’s pH level slightly alkaline.

In case it’s been a while since your last chemistry class, pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. The scale runs from 0 (highly acidic) to 14 (highly) alkaline.

So for context:

  • Lemon juice and vinegar are highly acidic with a pH of around 2 (acidic outside the body, anyway — more on that in a moment)
  • Bleach and ammonia are highly alkaline with a pH around 13 and 11, respectively (not that we would drink them, but just for context)
  • Water is neutral at 7
  • And our optimal blood pH sits between 7.35 and 7.45

Acid-Alkaline Chart

Why is this important to know? I mean, we did just say that this (like other key tasks) happens automatically, right? Right! But these functions do take work, and the thing is, our diet can affect how easily (or not) our body performs its tasks.

In this article

Acid- vs. alkaline-forming foods

The reason behind this mini-science lesson is that the foods we eat can affect the acid-alkaline balance of our blood. That means the foods we eat can either help our body’s efforts to keep our blood’s pH at the optimal level… or they can hinder those efforts.

But this can get confusing because foods that we normally think of as acidic or alkaline, can sometimes have the opposite effect on our blood after we’ve digested it. For example, lemons, which are acidic in nature, can actually have an alkalizing effect on our blood. In other words, consuming a lemon can raise our blood pH, making it more alkaline… not more acidic.

Is your head spinning a little? Don’t worry; I’ll unpack this pretty easily for you. Ready?

What determines whether a food is acid-forming or alkaline-forming inside our body?

Digestion begins with our saliva, the moment food enters our mouth. Once food makes its way through our digestive tract, the enzymes and acids in our stomach further break it down and the effect is not dissimilar to “burning” it. The punchline is that the food’s pH can change once it’s been ‘burned’. So again, something that is acidic in nature (like lemons) can produce an alkalizing effect on our blood upon digestion.

This is how scientists determine a food’s pH effect on the body: They incinerate the food, mix the ash with water, and then analyze the mineral content of the ash. If the mineral content is highly alkaline, then the food will likely have an alkalizing effect on the body (even if it is acidic outside of the body), and vice versa. Pretty cool, right?

How does diet affect our acid-alkaline balance?

Let’s say we eat a meal that has an acid-forming effect on our blood — as is all too common in the typical Western diet. Our body will work to bring the pH back into balance by releasing alkaline-rich minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium into our blood. If we haven’t been eating a healthy, balanced diet, our bodies may need to pull these important minerals from our bones, teeth, and organs. Yikes.

Alkalizing foods for a healthy breakfast

No matter what we eat, our body will continually strive to keep the alkalinity of our blood in check. It’s just a matter of: are we making this easy or difficult for our body to do?

  • A healthy, well-balanced diet** helps to supply our body with the minerals it needs while simultaneously preventing overly acidic blood pH, to begin with.
  • By contrast, a predominantly acid-forming (western) diet forces our body to work harder to keep our pH balanced. As a result, we may have to sacrifice minerals from one area of our body (bones, teeth, organs) in order to keep our blood pH in check.

** A balanced diet equates to roughly 60-80% alkaline-forming foods and 20-40% acid-forming foods.

A balanced (more alkaline) diet can help our body to stay healthier with less effort.

Alkaline-acid food charts

Scroll down for the charts to see which foods have a (very low to highly) alkalizing vs. acidic effect on your body. Also, download this printable Alkaline-Acid Food Chart to stick on your fridge. Downloadable Acid-Alkaline Chart

Using these charts

Note that the type of soil used to grow fruits and vegetables can influence their mineral content, and test results can vary. As a result, different charts can report slightly different pH levels of the same foods.

With that in mind, use these alkaline-acid food charts as a general guide, and don’t worry if the chart you see here is slightly different from another you’ve found in a different corner of the internet. The small differences in degree ultimately won’t make a huge difference. What will make the biggest difference is replacing processed foods with fresh foods and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Alkaline Food Chart

Very Low

  • alfalfa sprouts
  • avocado oil
  • banana
  • beet
  • blueberry
  • brussels sprouts
  • celery
  • chive
  • cilantro
  • coconut oil
  • cucumber
  • currant
  • duck eggs
  • fermented veggies
  • flax oil
  • ghee
  • ginger tea
  • grain coffee
  • grapes
  • hemp seed oil
  • japonica rice
  • lettuces
  • oats
  • okra
  • olive oil
  • orange
  • quinoa
  • raisin
  • sprouted seeds
  • squashes
  • strawberry
  • sunflower seeds
  • tahini
  • tempeh
  • turnip greens
  • umeboshi vinegar
  • wild rice


  • almonds
  • apple cider vinegar
  • apples (sour)
  • artichokes (Jerusalem)
  • avocado
  • bell pepper
  • blackberry
  • brown rice vinegar
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • cherry
  • cod liver oil
  • collard green
  • egg yolks
  • eggplant
  • ginseng
  • green tea
  • herbs
  • honey (raw)
  • leeks
  • mushrooms
  • nutritional yeast
  • papaya
  • peach
  • pear
  • pickles (homemade)
  • potato
  • primrose oil
  • pumpkin
  • quail eggs
  • radishes
  • rice syrup
  • rutabaga
  • sake
  • sesame seed
  • sprouts
  • watercress


  • apples
  • apricots
  • arugula
  • asparagus
  • banchi tea
  • beans (fresh green)
  • broccoli
  • cantaloupe
  • carob
  • carrots
  • cashews
  • cayenne
  • chestnuts
  • citrus
  • dandelion
  • dandelion tea
  • dewberry
  • edible flowers
  • endive
  • garlic
  • ginger (fresh)
  • ginseng tea
  • grapefruit
  • herbal tea
  • herbs (leafy green)
  • honeydew
  • kale
  • kombucha
  • kelp
  • kiwifruit
  • kohlrabi
  • loganberry
  • mango
  • molasses
  • mustard green
  • olive
  • parsley
  • parsnip
  • passion fruit
  • peas
  • pepper
  • soy sauce
  • spices
  • sweet corn (fresh)
  • turnip


  • baking soda
  • chlorella
  • dulse
  • lemons
  • lentils
  • limes
  • lotus root
  • mineral water
  • nectarine
  • onion
  • persimmon
  • pineapple
  • pumpkin seed
  • raspberry
  • sea salt
  • sea vegetables
  • seaweed
  • spirulina
  • sweet potato
  • tangerine
  • taro root
  • umeboshi plums
  • vegetable juices
  • watermelon

Acidic Food Chart

Very Low

  • amaranth
  • black-eyed peas
  • brown rice
  • butter
  • canola oil
  • chutney
  • coconut
  • cream
  • curry
  • dates
  • dry fruit
  • fava beans
  • figs
  • fish
  • gelatin
  • goat cheese
  • grape seed oil
  • guava
  • kasha
  • maple syrup
  • millet
  • organs
  • pine nuts
  • pumpkin seed oil
  • rhubarb
  • sheep cheese
  • spinach
  • string beans
  • sunflower oil
  • triticale
  • venison (deer)
  • vinegar
  • wax beans
  • wild duck
  • zucchini


  • adzuki beans
  • aged cheese
  • alcohol
  • almond oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • black tea
  • boar
  • buckwheat
  • chard
  • cow milk
  • elk
  • farina
  • game meat
  • goat milk
  • goose
  • kamut
  • kidney beans
  • lamb
  • lima beans
  • milk
  • mollusks
  • mutton
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • plum
  • red beans
  • safflower oil
  • seitan
  • semolina
  • sesame oil
  • shellfish
  • soy cheese
  • spelt
  • tapioca
  • teff
  • tofu
  • tomatoes
  • turkey
  • vanilla
  • wheat
  • white beans
  • white rice


  • barley groats
  • basmati rice
  • bear
  • casein
  • chestnut oil
  • chicken
  • coffee
  • corn
  • cottage cheese
  • cranberry
  • egg whites
  • fructose
  • garbanzo beans
  • green peas
  • honey (pasteurized)
  • ketchup
  • lard
  • maize
  • mussels
  • mustard
  • nutmeg
  • oat bran
  • olives (pickled)
  • other legumes
  • palm kernel oil
  • pasta (whole grain)
  • pastry
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pistachio seeds
  • pomegranate
  • popcorn
  • pork
  • prunes
  • rye
  • snow peas
  • soy milk
  • squid
  • veal


  • artificial sweeteners
  • barley
  • beef
  • beer
  • brazil nuts
  • breads
  • brown sugar
  • cocoa
  • cottonseed oil
  • flour (white)
  • fried foods
  • fruit juices with sugar
  • hazelnuts
  • hops
  • ice cream
  • jam/jelly
  • liquor
  • lobster
  • malt
  • pasta (white)
  • pheasant
  • pickles (commercial)
  • processed cheese
  • seafood
  • soft drinks
  • soybean
  • sugar
  • table salt
  • walnuts
  • white bread
  • white vinegar
  • whole wheat foods
  • wine
  • yeast
  • yogurt (sweetened)

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