4 Types of Sour Foods that Pack Huge Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Sour Foods

Just like it’s important to vary the colors of foods on your plate and get a well-rounded diet, it’s also important to include all kinds of different foods, especially sour foods. Why? Did you know that sour foods pack a sweet punch when it comes to health benefits? It’s true! Not only do sour foods add some life (or brightness) to your meals, but they can boost your overall health in a big way.

What Kind of Flavors Can We Taste?

You may think of taste as a singular thing: things taste good or they taste bad. But, it turns out that our taste is much more complex than that. We actually have five types of taste that our tastebuds can discern. Those are:

  • Sweet
  • Salty
  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Umami

These different tastes make up a “colorful” palate for our tongues.

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The five types of taste are experienced by different areas on your tongue. For example, we mostly taste sweetness on the front and center area of the tongue. Saltiness is tasted by the very front and edges of the sides of the tongue. Sour is identified by the sides of the tongue from the middle to the back, while bitter sensitivity is found at the very back of the tongue. The taste center for umami (or savory) encompasses about three quarters of the front of the tongue.

There are also several categories of sour tastes and acids, including:

  • Lactic acid (found in dairy products)
  • Oxalic acid (present in leafy greens)
  • Tartaric acid (found in the tamarind fruit)
  • Citric acid (which is in citrus fruits)
  • Acetic acid (found in vinegar)

All of these types of food bring their own individual flavors and zest to your foods and make a nice, healthy addition to your meals. And whether or not you actually enjoy sour foods, they offer a variety of important health benefits you won’t want to miss.

Levels of Sour in Foods

Sour foods typically taste the way they do due to the amount of acid they contain, and some acids produce a stronger sour taste than others. The different levels of sour can, in part, be explained by the amount of sweetness in the food that is present to offset the sour taste.

For example, you may enjoy the sourness of a grapefruit, but when it comes to eating a lemon, you might make a different face. Everyone’s tolerance and preference for sourness is individual and can vary greatly from person to person.

What are Sour Fermented Foods?

Fermented foods are foods that have been put through a fermenting process called zymology or zymurgy. This enables carbohydrates to be converted to organic acids and alcohols by using bacteria and often some form of yeast.

The cool thing about these fermented foods is that they contain pre- and probiotics, which are good bacteria that are important for a healthy microbiome. These healthy bacteria not only improve the longevity of food, they also give it a unique flavor. Additionally, fermented foods help with a host of health issues from supporting a balanced immune system to promoting easy digestion and helping the body rid itself of toxins.

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Types of Sour Foods

There are many types of sour foods, including those that are fermented, and they boast some great health benefits. Include a variety of these delicious foods in your diet plan:

Citrus:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruits
  • Kumquats
  • Pomelos
  • Tamarind

Other fruits:

  • Berries
  • Apricots
  • Sour Apples (e.g., Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc.)
  • Rhubarb
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Currants
  • Tart cherries
  • Gooseberries
  • Cranberries

Fermented/Sour Foods:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt (Regular and Greek)
  • Kimchi
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Miso
  • Sourdough
  • Kombucha
  • Apple cider vinegar (as well as other vinegars)
  • Tomatoes
  • Many other foods, especially vegetables, can be fermented as well (e.g., pickled beets, beans, peppers, onions, plums, peaches, or watermelon rinds).

Other Dairy

  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Other cheeses

What Are the Health Benefits of Sour Foods?

Regulates digestion—because sour foods, especially those that have been fermented, are what’s known as “secretagogues,” they help your body create mucous to keep your mouth lubricated. Proper moisture in the mouth helps you digest your food smoothly.

Anti-inflammatory properties—antioxidants like the flavonoids and phenols present in sour foods like veggies and fruits may help your body produce a healthy inflammatory response and support a balanced immune system, in essence supporting the body to prevent disease and illness.

Antioxidants—chockful of your favorite antioxidants, sour foods are a secret weapon for a strong immune system.

Boost Liver Health—sour foods, including fermented foods, help your liver remove toxins to keep your body healthy.

Hydration—yes, many sour foods contain lots of water and help you bump up your daily intake of water.

Sour Foods: A Wrap-Up

Get ready to pucker up and learn to love sour foods for their unique flavor and powerful health benefits. Whether you top a sweet treat with a dollop of yogurt, add apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon to a fresh salad, or top some BBQed meat with a scoop of sauerkraut, you’ll improve both the flavor and health benefits of your meal.