“Betty ate her bit of bitters and the bitters made her better!”
That’s right, in the saga of things that go against intuition, I’m here to tell you that bitter foods = good for you. Growing up, you heard it a million times from your parents and grandparents, probably even uncles and aunts. I’m not the first and definitely not the last person to tell you this. So why bother with this blog? Because I’m going to tell you…
…WHY YOUR BITTERS ARE SO GOOD FOR YOU
So as it happens, bitter foods have the opposite effect of sugary foods on the body. Because they help to stabilize your blood sugar and consequently satiate hunger. Makes sense, right? Now I know you’ve already thought of delicious loopholes to get your quota of bitters into your diet. Cooking bitter-gourd with jaggery, celery juice with a splash of coconut water, orange peel marmalade and so many more ways out! Whelp… I’m bursting your bubbles… all of the goodness from eating your bitters? Well, it is dependent on that unappetizing bitter taste. Hey, I don’t make the rules! But, trust me, there’s a whole science behind it!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
When you eat your bitters, they tickle certain taste receptors in your mouth that are trigger an increased production of bile and other digestive enzymes. Why is this so important? What bile does is it gathers all of the fat-soluble vitamins from your food, Vitamins A, D, E and K and sends them to the parts of your body where they are needed most. It also emulsifies fats in the body so they are more easily utilized.
HOW IT HELPS
Now I don’t have to explain the benefits of being able to break down the fats in your food and in the body. But these other fat-soluble vitamins, here’s the role they play: Vitamin A boosts immunity and reproductive health, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant (cue glowing skin please), Vitamin D boosts both cognitive and gut health and Vitamin K is a hero for bone and blood health. So, there you have it. A whole spectrum of health benefits from just one addition to your diet!
OKAY FINE, WHAT SHOULD I EAT
Well, for starters, all of the bitter food that your parents tried to get you to eat: Bitter gourd, broccoli, radishes and neem. To those you can add arugula, kale, raw cacao, citrus peel etc.
If it helps, you can pair bitter foods with salty, sweet or sour dressings that will balance the taste. I’m not saying dip your bitter gourd in chocolate or honey. What I’m saying here is sprinkle a honey, lemon vinaigrette to your kale, arugula salad. Pair other foods with salted nuts or add your orange peel to a tossed vegetable dish.
Experiment till you find what suits you. The next time you find yourself wrinkling your nose at your bitters, think back to this article and hopefully you’ll find these foods a bit more appetizing!