July 02, 2014
Want to know if your favorite fruits and veggies are packing more nutritional bang for your buck?
You already have a way to tell: your palate. Over 10,000 taste buds in your mouth are each equipped with 100 to 150 taste cells that send messages to your brain about the chemicals in your food as they dissolve in saliva. But can you tell if a food is more nutritious by tasting it?
Using 10 different navel oranges, from organic and non-organic growers and a variety of grocery stores and farmers’ markets, we took samples to measure the degrees Brix in the juice of each fruit with a hand-held refractometer, commonly available for about US$25.
According to the Refractive Index of Crop Juices, oranges score roughly within the following Brix values: poor (6), average (10), good (16) and excellent (20). Offering 19 CrossFit Inc. employees four different orange samples, we asked them to assign a measure of quality for each sample—poor, average, good or excellent—by focusing on “superior taste.”
Our testers were able to distinguish the higher-Brix oranges because the values corresponded with better taste. To put it simply, the more nutrient-dense oranges had superior taste.
Save the refractometer for the vineyard; you can trust your taste buds in the produce aisle.