Benefits of High Brix Food
Benefits of High-Brix Food Degrees Brix are a measure of the dissolved solids (mostly sugars and minerals) in plant juice / sap. Brix readings are given by a refractometer, a simple instrument that gives measurements based on how light is refracted when it passes through the sap. The more dissolved solids that are in the sap, the more refraction occurs, which translates to higher Brix readings.
Why should anyone care about Brix readings of their food? Here are a few reasons:
Flavour. In my opinion, optimum flavour is the ultimate goal in food production. There are many approaches to growing food, and they all have merits. For me, the bottom line is: how good does this food taste? High Brix food has a sweeter, richer, fuller flavour.
Nutrients. Our bodies require a certain amount of nutrients for good health. If we eat food that is deficient in nutrients, we need to eat more food to compensate for the deficiencies. Deficiencies are not the only issue: it can be just as serious to eat foods that have imbalances in the nutrient ratios. Healthy plants have healthy nutrient ratios. Ideally, we would consume foods that are rich in nutrients, so that food is nourishing instead of just filling our bellies. High-brix foods are richer in nutrients (such as minerals, sugars, proteins, fats, vitamins, antioxidants, essential oil compounds).
Shelf-life. High-brix foods contain more substance (nutrients) and less water. This contributes to longer shelf life and storage abilities.
Resistance to pests. A very interesting fact: bugs prey on low-Brix plants! Farmers can measure the Brix levels of plant leaves through the growing season; when the Brix reading is 12 or above, the plants will not be bothered by insect pests. Therefore, no need for insecticides!
If there is an insect infestation, one of the most effective remedies is a foliar spray (a mixture of nutrients sprayed on plant leaves) that raises the Brix level of the plant. Amazingly, the insects will disappear! They go find low-Brix plants to chew on somewhere else.
Resistance to diseases. High-brix plants resist disease because they are healthier. High-brix plants are well-nourished. When plants are receiving all the nutrients they require to be healthy, they have a greatly reduced risk of succumbing to blights, fungal infections, etc. Healthy plants means healthy food for us too.
Healthier food sources for pollinators. I read a fascinating tidbit recently (if I find that article again, I will link to it). Honeybees only forage on plants that have a Brix reading of 7 or higher. In other words, it is not good enough to have nectar and pollen plants that pollinators like to feed on … they need high-brix food too!
Here are two Brix charts that detail the range of Brix measurements for various types of fruits and vegetables.