Did you know that the “bitterness” on our taste buds sends a chemical reaction throughout our bodies and has numerous health benefits? When you sweeten bitter foods, you often destroy the majority of the health benefit of that particular food.
Consider the initial taste shock of bitter foods such as cranberries, cocoa and kale to be positive, rather than negative. Bitter = Better (for your body) 😉
Here are a few of the health benefits of bitter foods.
1. Helps nutrient absorption
Bitter foods and herbs (like dandelion) help to stimulate digestive juices and support food digestion. They help stimulate our taste receptors on the tongue, which subsequently stimulates enzyme production and bile flow. The better your food is digested, the more nutrients you will absorb from your food.
2. Balances taste buds and controls that sweet tooth
Who doesn’t need a little sweet tooth support? Guess what? The more bitter greens we eat, the more bitter greens we want. It’s true. In Ayurvedic tradition, bitter foods are thought to reduce food cravings and aid in weight loss. In TCM, bitter foods are prized for ‘removing heat’ in the body – could that speak to their very modern ‘anti-inflammatory’ benefits?
3. Cleanses the body
Bitter roots and veggies contain fiber to help sweep wastes through the digestive tract. Bitter foods also contain sulfur-based compounds which support the natural detoxification pathways in the liver; helping it to do what it is meant to do – keep your body clean and clear.
4. Stimulates metabolism
This is exciting! Bitter foods and herbs like green tea have been shown to boost metabolism. Drinking green tea is one of the easiest ways to rev up your metabolism and it has been shown to inhibit fat absorption—the movement of glucose into fat cells, [support healthy] glucose levels after eating a meal, prevent insulin spikes which prevents fat storage, and reduce appetite. Go get that green tea brewing, or add this green tea supplement to your regimen.
5. Fights free radicals and stimulates immune function
Recent studies have shown that bitter foods, including dark chocolate, ( I see your smile) can help fight free radicals in the body. How much chocolate is recommended each day? When you are shopping for a dark chocolate bar, let the cocoa content be your guide — it is typically listed prominently on the label, and you want a bar with at least 70 percent cocoa beans. The higher the percentage, the more antioxidant content. 1 oz a day is a healthy serving.
List of bitter foods and herbs
There are a wide variety of bitter foods and herbs. Some of them are best taken as a tea to help your body register the bitter taste to get the digestive juices flowing. Some better foods and herbs include:
- Dark chocolate
- Milk thistle
- Bitter melon and gourd
- Japanese eggplant
- Fenugreek seeds
- Leafy greens
*edited and condensed from NS blog