Alkaline Food Charts: Your Introduction to PRAL

Acid-Alkaline Food Charts Choices

This introduction to my basic acid alkaline food charts describes how they are structured. It also acts as an index to the charts, which are organized by USDA nutrition food groups.

This is the first set of charts to use PRAL Scores to rank foods by acid or alkaline effect. Later charts have more features and focus on popular foods.

Why Use PRAL Alkaline Food Charts?

Alkalizing your body (which essentially means ensuring your urine is alkaline) has many health benefits, though not as many as some merchants claim. Taking baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) works for many health problems. Unfortunately, it can raise blood pressure, so an alternative is better.

This is where increasing your pH level through food comes in. There is a lot of information on the Internet about alkalizing diets and acid-alkaline balance. Much of this is confusing and sometimes contradictory.

First of all, the effect of food on the body is nothing to do with the pH of the food itself. The important measurement is how the food changes the pH of your body after it has been digested. Often sour foods like lemon juice will actually raise pH after digestion, making the body more alkaline.

Secondly, alkalizing the body with food does not mean that you must stop eating lots of different foods. The opposite is true. You must eat a wide variety of food, choosing acidifying foods as well as alkalizing ones, which, in total, have an overall alkalizing effect.

Other PRAL Alkaline Food Factors

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Healthy Food Combinations Chart

Healthy Food Combinations Photo

In the forum recently, Joan asked if I had any healthy food combination charts. Now, that raises a bunch of questions about the state of your health. I’m wary of recommending specific food combinations in general terms, because what improves health for one person, might have little or no effect on the next.

However, when I looked for some relevant research, I found an interesting summary of several food combinations that have been shown to have real health benefits. That summarizes 13 healthy food combinations. Unfortunately, the examples are not always linked to the correct research.

I am investigating each claim in detail to find the latest science. I’ve also found some additional research pointers that indicate more potential. For today, I list the combinations from the aforementioned summary in the chart below. I will return to each combo for specific articles another day.

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Best Alkaline Foods Servings

Most Alkaline Food Recipe photo

My best alkaline foods servings list shows the top 100 most alkaline foods by serving size.

In my previous Most Alkaline Key Foods List, I looked at the best popular foods. That information is derived from the list of key foods prepared by USDA. Unfortunately, we know that popular foods are not necessarily healthy, so I have widened the scope.

My new list of best alkaline foods shows the top 100 alkaline foods in the entire USDA foods list. The biggest drawback of that list is high levels of duplication. I’ve tried to reduce this by omitting:

  • Obvious duplicates where foods are listed with and without salt.
  • Baby foods
  • Highly processed foods

Salt does not affect PRAL estimates. So, I’ve omitted those duplicates. Processed foods are difficult to omit completely. I’ve tried to keep packaged foods that are not overtly unhealthy. However, some may have slipped through, so tell me if you see any unhealthy foods, and I will remove them.

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Magnesium for PRAL Alkalinity

Most Magnesium Food Recipe photo

Magnesium is the second alkaline component of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score. That PRAL calculation has links to top food lists for other nutrients.

We need magnesium for over 300 processes in our body. These cover many vital functions, including nerves, muscles, immune system, bones, and heart.

Magnesium is found in many foods, including:

  • Spinach, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, and many other vegetables and fruits
  • Almonds, cashews, and other nuts
  • Peas, beans, and other legumes and seeds
  • Tofu, soy flour, and other soy products
  • Brown rice, millet, and other whole grains

Excess magnesium is rare, as our kidneys remove any we do not use. Despite this, the Department of Health magnesium fact sheet for health professionals reports:

Dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show that intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts.

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Potassium for pH Balance

High Potassium Recipe photo

Potassium is one of three alkaline components of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score.

We need potassium for several functions in our bodies, and it is also important for balancing the effects of too much sodium. The risks of average diets in America are important, and so I turn to Harvard School of Public health once again to share modern nutrition thinking about potassium:

Most Americans consume far too much sodium and far too little potassium, an eating pattern that puts them at higher risk of heart disease and death. Making a few changes in food choices can help shift the balance. Potassium levels are naturally high in vegetables and fruits, and sodium levels are naturally low. Large amounts of sodium are often added to foods during processing. So choosing produce that is fresh or frozen, or choosing foods that have not had salt added in processing, can help curb dietary sodium and boost potassium.

Potassium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia), and slightly elevated blood pressure. On the other hand, too much potassium can also be bad for the heart, and kidney patients might need lower than normal intake. So what is normal potassium intake?

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PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) Nutrients Defined

PRAL Nutrients icon

PRAL Nutrients are those substances in food and drink that are used in the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) calculation.

The PRAL score is the best indicator of how we can improve an alkaline diet. Though PRAL scores are calculated as absolute numbers, in practice, they should only be used as a general guide. Seasonal variations, different varieties, and cooking methods will all affect the PRAL score. Despite this variation, the numbers are useful in making better food choices. Ultimately, the proof of your alkaline diet comes when you test the pH of urine. The alkaline food lists will help point you in the direction of foods with lower PRAL scores if you need to raise the pH of your urine. There is more information on PRAL pH Balance Calculation.

The key to alkaline diets is that 20-30% of foods should be acidic, with the rest being alkaline or neutral. Overall, your total pH balance diet score should be alkaline. There is no target for PRAL. The target pH of urine in healthy individuals is 6.5 to 7 in the morning, rising to 7.5 through the day. The target should be higher if you are fighting ill health, though there are complications to this that I will consider when I explain various diseases in future articles.

Read morePRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) Nutrients Defined

Most Alkaline Key Foods List

Most Alkaline Foods Photo

My most alkaline key foods list summarizes the top items from all my alkaline foods lists. Before you use the list below, you should read my Alkaline Food Lists Explanation, and some of the examples listed at the end of that explanation.

The science behind a good alkaline diet might be complicated, but my lists make managing your own diet easier. In essence, for healthy eating, you need to allow around 20-25% of your calorie intake in acid forming foods, and the rest in alkaline forming foods.

The lists guide you to make better choices when planning what to eat. However, the only true measure of the success is to measure urine pH, and set an alkaline target. I will explain more about setting and testing your alkaline target in other articles. In the meantime, use the list below to find the most alkaline foods that will increase your pH.

Read moreMost Alkaline Key Foods List