Cooking, Mediterranean Diet

Get your natural electrolytes fix with Ayran

It’s getting hot in here. . .  so drop the Gatorade!

Please excuse the Nelly reference. I’m basking in my own sweat in the Mediterranean as I write. My brain and skin are fried.

We’ve all heard it before. Mercury’s rising. Kids are playing outside. We need to replace all those lost electrolytes with. . . a sugar-infused “sports” drink (whatever that means)? I’m here to tell you guys about a healthier alternative to that sugar-laden drink we in the West consider critical in replacing all those lost electrolytes.

Before we begin, though, let’s breakdown the story of electrolytes. According to WebMD, electrolytes are minerals in your body that regulate blood pressure, body’s water content, and our nerve and muscle function. We lose electrolytes through normal, daily activities. However, when we perspire, we lose electrolytes at a faster speed. Now, here’s the fun part: which minerals in our blood system naturally comprise of these oh-so-important electrolytes? Answer: sodium, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate.  (

Not sugar. So, can someone please explain to me why we give our kids a whopping 56 grams (or 20% of our RDA) in a 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade? (Sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup are two of the three first ingredients). May I suggest an alternative thirst-quencher, with organic, healthy roots that is easy to make involves only a handful of ingredients?

For my family, summertime in the Mediterranean means long, hot summer days at the beach or pool, cooling off with a tall glass of homemade ariani (Greek) or ayran (Turkish). All this punctuated with watermelon and feta cheese for dinner. (As a side bar: give watermelon/feta a try! The salty/sweet combo is addictive).

What is Ariani/Ayran? 

I learned about ariani while living in Cyprus. When the heat soars, the younger generation of moms reach for juice boxes and ice cream to hand to their kids. However, the older generation pull out the yogurt and the blender. They know how to quench their thirst naturally, organically using an age-oold method.

Ariani is a refreshing summer drink made from diluted Greek yogurt, salt and dried (or fresh) mint. It originated in Turkey and is served all over the country. From 5-star hotels to fast food restaurants and everything in between, ayran is by all means a national drink in Turkey. During the Ottoman Empire, the drink was introduced to other lands, and is now widely consumed in Greece, Lebanon, Iran and beyond.

Slightly salty, rather than sweet, it may take some getting used to. But it’s worth it. A comparison of those above-mentioned electrolytes of Gatorade (the de facto electrolyte drink of the West) versus Ayran is below. I even throw in sugar gram content and overall calories to give a better health picture.

Nutritional/Mineral content Gatorade (8 ounce) Ariani/Ayran (8 ounce)
Calories 50 42
Sugar 14 grams 3.2 grams
Sodium 110 mg 191 mg
Potassium 30 mg 141 mg
Calcium 106 mg
Protein 10 grams


Notice any differences? Aside from calories and sugar content, Gatorade grades far below Ayran’s nutritional/mineral content. Please note: this is only for an 8-ounce bottle/glass of both Gatorade and Ayran. Most Gatorade bottles come in 20+ ounce bottles, so please do the math.

It’s no comparison. Ayran is a natural, healthier alternative to Gatorade. It’s also super-simple to make.


Refreshing ayran – natural, organic and thirst-quenching


  • ½ cup your favorite brand of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Dried mint, if desired

Add all of the above in a blender and whirl to oblivion a couple of seconds. Serve over ice.

Kefir versus Ayran/Ariani

Some often confuse the recently “discovered” super-drink Kefir with Ayran. However, they are not the same. Ayran is made from Greek yogurt that has been diluted with water, add a touch of salt (to taste) and blend. It is generally served chilled or over ice. Kefir, on the other hand, is made from kefir “grains” (a yeast/bacteria starter) which resemble tiny cauliflower. Kefir is made from milk rather than yogurt. Personally, I find ariani easier to drink than kefir. In the West, many people add sugar or fruit syrups to the kefir. Otherwise, kefir may be considered a bit too sour, bitter and strong. Ayran, alternatively, has a diluted yogurt taste. If you like yogurt, you will probably likely like the taste of ayran.

Have I convinced you yet? Make ariani/ayran a part of your homemade traditions to live like a Mediterranean god/goddess. Enjoy your summer and stay cool, refreshed and hydrated.

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  • Reply jamie September 10, 2019 at 12:52 PM

    I drink something similar in Italy. Organic, grass fed yogurt diluted in milk. I use it on the tennis court instead of a sports drink. Along with the electrolytes it is also meant to cleanse the colon.

  • Reply Kathleen at July 10, 2016 at 9:34 PM

    How interesting! I had never heard of Ayran before. Thanks for also including the recipe so we can try it whenever we would like. I enjoyed reading this post and picturing you-all on the beach beneath the Cypress sun.

    • Reply Claudia July 11, 2016 at 4:40 AM

      Glad you liked it, Kathleen! My kids drink it near-daily here. It’s often times in replace of their milk, making it an excellent source of calcium, Vitamin D, plus probiotics!

      Love your writing and love your site, Miss Best Is Yet To Be!

  • Reply Lois July 8, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    The Ariani sounds delicious! I will have to try it!

    • Reply Claudia July 11, 2016 at 4:41 AM

      Please do, Lois! And let me know what you think. . .

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