They may make your face scrunch up like a prune, but sour and bitter foods have a lot to offer for your health.
"There are definitely no cons to consuming foods that taste sour and/or bitter," says health and nutrition expert Rosanna Lee, who is based in Toronto. "Many healthy foods like oranges, lemons, limes, bitter melon and coffee are good for the body in moderation."
But what's the difference? Besides the taste, sour and bitter foods also have different components. Sour foods have natural acids which is why sauerkraut, lemons, and buttermilk taste so sour. Bitterness in foods comes from compounds like amino acids, peptides, and organic or inorganic salts, Lee says. The most common bitter foods include teas, coffees and dark chocolates.
"Adding salt is a great technique to neutralize bitterness, while adding sugar can help to mask a bitter taste," she says.
Even though some bitter foods have an acquired taste, there is no reason to avoid them. Some foods like endives or kale, for example, should be eaten solely for their health benefits. Studies have shown bitter foods can help the body manage cholesterol levels and assist in metabolizing fats, Lee adds.
But before you go filling up your grocery cart with all things sour and bitter, keep moderation and variety in mind. "Aim for foods low in saturated fats and sugars, lean or alternative proteins, colourful veggies and fruits and a diversity of whole grains," Lee says.
Here are Lee's top choices for the healthiest sour and bitter foods. Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments below:
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