Understanding the Benefits of Bitter Foods
The bitter taste of foods can be caused by a variety of factors including an alkaline pH or the presence of
certain compounds such as alkaloids or glucosinolates, which are bound in many leafy green vegetables
such as dandelion, cabbage, broccoli and kale. Some people are also genetically more sensitive to the
bitter taste of food. Scientists have called these people “super tasters”.
Most people don’t find bitter foods to be too appealing to taste. This may because many naturally
occurring toxins also have a bitter flavour profile. According to this theory, our aversion to the bitter
taste has an evolutionary benefit as we have been less likely to consume something toxic or poisonous.
6 Health Benefits of Eating Bitter Foods
Bitter foods tend to have a number of health benefits including:
1. Higher Nutrient Absorption: The higher levels of stomach acid secreted when you eat bitter
foods stimulates the secretion of intrinsic factor, a protein that helps your body absorb vitamin
B12 from the stomach lining. It also helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)
2. Protects Against Cancer: Glucosinolates (the bitter compound naturally occurring in brassica
family vegetables) has been shown to decrease risk of several types of cancer including breast,
lung and colorectal cancers.
3. Improves Digestive Function: Bitter foods stimulate the digestive system to secrete more
digestive enzymes to break down food more efficiently.
4. Improves Gut Health: Many bitter tasting foods also contain fibre and prebiotics, which act as
food for beneficial gut bacteria, thereby improving overall digestive health in the long run.
5. Promotes Kidney Function & Healthy Detox: By stimulating the bitter reflex, we allow bile and
associated toxins to accumulate in the stool and move out of the body.
6. Appetite regulation: Recent research has suggested that when bitter taste receptors located in
the digestive system are stimulated, certain appetite regulating gut hormones are secreted
which influence hunger and food intake.
Strategies to Incorporate More Bitter Foods in Your Diet
One simple way to help reduce the bitterness of certain leafy greens is to massage them until they are a
brighter green and slightly wilted consistency. It is ideal to massage your kale salad leaves with olive oil
or dressing of your choice for several minutes to help neutralize the bitterness. This method will not lead
to any nutrient loss as is the case with boiling.
Another way to improve the taste of bitter foods is to pair them with a flavour that is more palatable,
such as sweet. Adding some dried fruit or a honey based sauce can cut some of the bitter flavour. Spicy
flavours can also mask some of the bitterness. Try using a spicy sausage or bacon in some bitter greens
recipes to help with the flavour.
Supplementing for Benefits of Bitter Foods
If you choose to get the benefits through supplementation, consider taking a tincture or herbal
capsules.The supplement choice should be based on the nature of the specific health benefit one is
hoping to achieve. For example, people looking for some of the cancer protective effects of cruciferous
family vegetables may opt to take a supplement with DIM ( Diindolylmethane) which is a compound
created when you digest cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts. For others who are
looking for appetite control benefits, Berberine may be an interesting supplement to consider.Berberine is an alkaloid naturally found in Berberis shrubs and other plants. Studies have shown it has a
powerful effect on blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels and weight management.
IV Therapy - The Ultimate Health Hack
Bitter foods are a good option to improve health in the long-run. But if you’re looking for a more
immediate way to up your weight loss, nutrient absorption, and other important factors that influence
your health, IV vitamin therapy is the ultimate hack.