What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “electrolytes”? For me, it’s Gatorade, Nuun Tablets, and hydration. But did you know that you don’t always have to drink electrolytes in order to keep your body in balance? According to Certified Nutritionist Serena Poon, most people can maintain and replenish electrolytes through a healthy, balanced diet full of all of the best foods with electrolytes.

And, surprisingly, the best foods with electrolytes aren’t even random, obscure foods. Chances are, if you regularly consume veggies, fruits, and legumes, you’ve got your electrolyte balance covered. I’ll personally bet that you’ll recognize all 20 of the best foods with electrolytes on this list. (But if you live under a rock and have never heard of chia seeds, that’s on you.) So, the next time you think about reaching for that sports drink, come back to this post and whip up an electrolyte-packed meal instead. 

Featured image by Michelle Nash

What exactly are electrolytes? Why are they so important for our bodies?

Electrolytes are essential minerals that help many bodily functions, including fluid balance, hydration, muscle contraction, and nerve function. If you eat a diet that is rich in vegetables and legumes, you likely get enough electrolytes from your food. However, if you are dehydrated, due to vomiting, diarrhea, extreme exercise, or heat exposure, it’s important to replenish your body with electrolytes to maintain optimal health. Electrolytes to consider include sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. 

Is there a difference in eating versus drinking electrolytes?

Most people should be able to replenish their electrolyte levels by eating whole foods that are rich in these minerals. If you’re an athlete or suffer from dehydration due to illness, it may be beneficial to supplement with an electrolyte beverage. Keep in mind that many electrolyte beverages may contain a lot of added sugar and may not be the best option for someone who is not engaging in intense exertion. 

What are your electrolyte-replenishing food recommendations, and why?

There are a variety of plant foods that are wonderful for providing electrolytes. Again, unless you’re an athlete or experiencing dehydration due to illness, eating whole foods that are rich in these minerals is a great way to replenish. Eating a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods supports health in a number of ways including providing antioxidants, polyphenols, an array of vitamins and minerals, and fiber. 

Potassium-rich foods include:

  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • bananas
  • avocado
  • beans
  • lentils
  • cashews
  • almonds

Magnesium-rich foods include:

  • green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • beans

Calcium-rich foods include:

  • dairy foods
  • tofu
  • leafy green vegetables

Try to get your sodium from high-quality salts, such as:

  • Himalayan pink salt
  • sea salt

Note: Avoid processed foods, which tend to be extraordinarily high in sodium and other inflammation-causing ingredients. Most Americans consume an ample amount of sodium throughout the day. In fact, many tend to consume more than the daily recommended amount (less than 2,300 mg). The only time it really makes sense to supplement with sodium is if you are trying to replenish electrolytes following intense exercise or a dehydrating illness.

Read on for more of the best foods with electrolytes, plus the most delicious ways to eat them.

Spinach

Recipe: Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Garlicky Olive Oil

Healthy pizza? It’s not an oxymoron, and no, you’re definitely not dreaming.

Kale

Recipe: Chopped Kale Salad with Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette

As virtuous as it’s made out to be, kale can still be a crucial component of many a delicious salad. Case in point, this colorful and crunchy delight.

Broccoli

Recipe: Spicy Chili Lime Miso Broccoli

CS food editor, Suruchi Avasthi, proudly admits to eating this broccoli straight from the pan. Nine times out of ten, I can guarantee it’ll be gone before it can make it to your plate.

Bananas

Recipe: Yogurt Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana

Like the viral TikTok recipe, only packed with potassium—and about a million times tastier.

Oranges

Recipe: Chaat Masala Citrus Salad

Don’t quote me on it, but I’m pretty sure this is the salad they were referring to when the phrase “eat the rainbow” was coined.

Watermelon

Recipe: Watermelon Tomato Caprese Salad

While thick slices of watermelon are *exactly* what we want to be eating on a hot summer day, this sweet and savory salad fancies things up a bit—and makes the nutrient-packed food 100 percent crave-worthy.

Tomatoes

Recipe: Bruschetta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Ricotta

When tomatoes are given a low-and-slow roast in the oven, beautiful things happen. And by beautiful things, I of course mean this totally-tasty toast.

Avocado

Recipe: Avocado Toast With Kale Pesto and Crunchy Veggies

Far from basic, this twist on the classic millennial go-to is full of texture, flavor, and potassium.

Beans

Recipe: Easy Black Bean Soup

Everyone’s favorite zesty comfort food, reimagined with ease.

Lentils

Recipe: Black Lentil Salad With Roasted Vegetables & Goat Cheese

Honey-sweetened and caramelized roasted veggies plus a little tangy goat cheese give lentils the glow-up we’ve all been craving.

Cashews

Recipe: One-Bowl Baked Banana Cashew Oatmeal

Tired of the same old breakfast staple? Baking your tried-and-true oatmeal makes it a brunch-worthy crowd-pleaser. A mealtime win.

Almonds

Recipe: Healthy Almond Joy Bites

While we all love a good sticky and sugary dessert every once in a while, oftentimes, our sweet tooth needs nothing more than a little fruity, vanilla-kissed flavor to be satiated. Enter: these truffle-like bites.

Sunflower Seeds

Recipe: Sunshine Detox Salad

Crispy veggies and crunchy sunflower seeds are a summer salad match made in heaven.

Chia Seeds

Recipe: Passion Fruit Chia Pudding

Step up your chia pudding standby with the addition of sweet-and-tart passion fruit.

Peanuts

Recipe: Spicy Peanut Brussels Sprout Tacos

I love coming across a vibrantly-hued vegetarian meal that’s filling and full of flavor. These tacos might be skipping out on meat, but trust me: your taste buds will thank you.

Tofu

Recipe: Shredded Kale & Cranberry Salad With Crispy Tofu

To quote Camille: “If only every kale salad were this good.”

Yogurt

Recipe: Macerated Thyme Strawberries & Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is the perfect tangy base for thyme-infused strawberries.

Milk

Recipe: Haldhi Doodh Ice Cream

With cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom pods infusing this recipe’s creamy base, there’s one thing for sure: you’ve never had ice cream like this.

Sweet Potatoes

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Whipped Feta and Hot Honey

Sweet potatoes + lighter-than-air feta + sweet and spicy honey = a trifecta of ingredients for the books.

Sea Salt

Recipe: Sweet and Salty Mango Lassi

Mango Lassis are the best (re: most delicious) way to cool down come summer, and with a little sea salt added to the mix, even the hottest days will involve something to look forward to.

Which electrolyte-replenishing recipe are you going to try first?





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