Even though some bitter foods have an acquired taste, there are several health benefits from their inclusion in our every day diets. Bitterness in foods comes from compounds like amino acids, peptides, and organic or inorganic salts. Although these nutrients may not be ‘vital’ for us to live – in the way proteins, vitamins and minerals are – there is mounting evidence that they are beneficial.
Here are the top three health benefits of eating your bitter foods:
- They are packed with nutrients: Bitter foods, especially green leafy ones, are packed with vitamins A, C and K, and minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium. Filled with folate and fiber and low in fat and sodium, these foods promote great skin (beta-carotene), a strong nervous system (folate), healthy blood clotting (vitamin K) and contain phytonutrients shown to support eye health.
- They are great for the digestive system: Eating bitter foods activates our taste buds that simultaneously stimulate enzyme production and bile flow, which in turn promotes digestion. The better your food is digested, the more nutrients you’ll absorb from your food. It doesn’t matter what you eat, if you can’t absorb it, it won’t be of much benefit to you. The high fiber content in some of these foods also helps to eliminate waste through the digestive tract.
- They help reduce cravings: Ayurveda recommends we consume all tastes for better health: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Unfortunately, a western diet primarily consists of sweet and salty tastes, and is lacking in others. In this traditional practice it is suggested that consuming bitter greens may also reduce food cravings and thus help control our weight.
- Bitter foods are anti-toxic. They act as antibacterial and antiviral helping with cleansing the body
- Bitter foods relieve burning and itching sensations and can helps with skin disorders
- Bitter foods may help reduce fever
- Bitter foods can also help improve the firmness of the skin and muscles
- Bitter foods help digestion and relieves intestinal gas
Here is a list of bitter foods to try out:
- Bitter melon
- Burdock root
- Dandelion greens
- Sesame seeds
- Castor oil
- Sesame oil