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10 Bitter Foods And Why You Should Be Eating Them
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
4. They help balance your blood sugar
5. Bitter foods are high in antioxidants
6. They support your detoxification pathways
Sensitivity to bitterness
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.
10 bitter foods you can add to your diet
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.