10 Bitter Foods And Why You Should Be Eating Them

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Consuming bitter foods is a cultural tradition that spans hundreds of years. Italians, for example, will often have a bitter aperitif before a meal and bitter melon is a popular addition to Asian cuisine. This global appreciation for bitters isn’t just coincidental. Bitter foods and flavours help support many areas of your health, but they’re particularly good for your digestive system. 

Back in the day, without the modern luxury of refrigeration, people often fell ill after consuming spoiled food. Bitters became recommended and even prescribed by medical professionals and traditional healers to remedy a whole raft of digestive concerns. But bitters are not just for your digestion, they can be beneficial for your health for several reasons.


6 reasons why bitter foods are good for you:

1. Bitter foods stimulate the digestive system

Bitter foods trigger the release of digestive enzymes, which then stimulate the production of stomach acid and bile. This can increase the efficiency of how the digestive system processes and breaks down food.

2. They help with appetite regulation

Bitter foods can help regulate appetite by promoting a feeling of fullness. This can be particularly useful for weight management as it may reduce overall food intake. Researchers found a 20% decrease in caloric consumption in patients who had been given a capsule containing quinine (bitter alkaloid) 60 minutes before eating.

3. They support your liver and gallbladder

Bitter compounds in certain foods can stimulate the liver and gallbladder, promoting the release of bile. Bile is important for the digestion and absorption of fats, aiding in the breakdown of complex nutrients.

4. They help balance your blood sugar

Some bitter compounds have been shown to have an impact on blood sugar levels. They may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of diabetes.

5. Bitter foods are high in antioxidants

Some bitter foods, such as certain vegetables and herbs, contain antioxidants that can help combat oxidative stress in the body. Antioxidants play a role in reducing inflammation and protecting cells from damage.

6. They support your detoxification pathways

Bitter foods are sometimes associated with supporting the body's natural detoxification processes. Compounds in these foods may aid in the elimination of toxins from the body.


Sensitivity to bitterness

Some people can find the spectrum of taste really intense, and they are sometimes called super tasters. They can find bitter tastes really hard to manage. If this sounds like you, don’t discount bitters!

You can still have bitter foods and plants. The great thing about your bitter taste receptors is that the more you activate them
(meaning, the more you eat bitter foods), your body starts to get used to the taste, and it becomes less challenging.

What can you do if you don’t like bitter foods?

Bitter is not a taste that you often crave. Sweet and salty - sure, but bitter, not so much. If you want to eat more bitter-tasting foods or plants because you know they are good for you but you really struggle, there are things you can do to help.

  • Add some fat to the bitter food: olive oil, butter, coconut oil, and ghee can help with the bitterness.
  • Add a small amount of seasoning to the bitter food: salt, spices, a tiny bit of maple syrup or honey
  • Build up slowly. With our Liver Bitters, we advise you to start with a small dose in a little bit of water for 3 days before taking it straight.
You do not want to hide the bitter taste because we really want the bitter taste receptors to be activated, so don’t add juice or anything overly sweet.

10 bitter foods you can add to your diet

1. Kale

Dark green leafy greens like kale are naturally bitter. Kale can be used to make amazing salads, you can add it to your smoothies or bake kale chips for a crunchy snack. It can also be added to pestos or blended with the water you have boiled pasta in to make a quick pasta sauce.

2. Rocket

A favourite in the Mediterranean, rocket tastes amazing in pestos, sauces, salads and even on pizzas!

3. Dandelion greens

Sounds strange, but the plant growing on your lawn can definitely help your health. You can use dandelion greens in your salads, fry them with garlic, or add them to your slow-cooked meals or soups. Mustard greens or mizuna salad mix are another option too.


4. Broccoli

Broccoli is a versatile vegetable that you can use in many ways. You can fry or BBQ it and add it to salads, pasta, meals or stir-fries. It goes really well with garlic and olive oil.  

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is naturally bitter. Turmeric can be added to your diet in a fresh sense (like in juices) or dried in curries, soups, stews, sauces or dahls. Turmeric also helps with supporting inflammation, making it an amazing plant to support digestion and the detoxification pathways.

6. Brussels sprouts

This is a bitter food you either love or hate. If you hate them, it’s probably because you were served Brussels sprouts the way we all were when we were young - overboiled and inedible. Try cooking them like this: lightly blanch them in hot water, then cut them in half and fry them in a hot pan with oil, garlic and ginger. Some people even add bacon!


7. Radicchio

Radicchio is a lesser-known vegetable but a very delicious and bitter food that appears often in Italian meals. Radicchio makes the best salad, which can help balance a meal that is quite rich, such as roasts, pasta, or pizzas. Grilling it can help moderate its bitterness.


8. Cacao

Chocolate, but not the milk variety. Opt for anything over 70% (the higher, the better). Bitter foods like cacao nibs on their own would be amazing to add to your diet too. You could add them to your cereal, on our yoghurt, porridge or in a nut mix.

9. Coffee

The best thing is that drinking coffee can count as a healthy food. Coffee is naturally bitter, so it will activate your bitter taste receptors. However, if you add cream, sugar, or milk, it will dilute the bitterness and sadly not help. Also, coffee has caffeine, so remember to be aware of your daily intake. If you are caffeine-sensitive, black and green tea can also be quite bitter, so they count as bitter foods, too.

10. Artichoke

Artichoke leaves are one of the most bitter foods on the planet. Globe artichoke is one of the organic plants we use at Wild Dispensary (we use it in our Liver Bitters). Drinking an artichoke tea can be quite challenging due to its intense bitterness. You can also eat the artichoke hearts, which also contain bitter constituents

Liver Bitters

Our love of bitters and their amazing health benefits is one of the reasons we formulated our Liver Bitters. They come in an easy dropper that helps you incorporate bitters into your life in an easy and efficient way.

You can take them before meals to support digestion or after meals if you feel uncomfortable (bloated, sluggish etc). You can even add the bitters to sparkling water to have with a meal. 

Our Liver bitters have been formulated with:



1 comment

  • Posted on by Robyn K
    Hi there Wild Dispensary people.

    Thanks heaps. Liver work seems really important atm as people deal with all the effects of pollution.
    I have noticed some of my clients have extra challenges right now.
    Very timely of you ☺👍💜

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