Bitter foods sure don’t sound too appetizing do they? They certainly aren’t something you probably think you’re craving, however you might be surprised to know that your body actually does crave bitter foods and show you in small ways you just haven’t realized (yet). Bitter foods help bring balance to the overly sweet foods we all love so much (and likely eat a little too much of). They can also help offset a general feeling of sluggishness, addiction to sweets, and even possibly hormonal issues or cholesterol problems.
Bitter foods such as leafy greens, cacao, herbs, and bitter melon all contain liver-boosting nutrients such as sulfur, along with fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). These are necessary for the body to be able to produce bile, which is needed for optimal digestion and to help the liver work at prime level. For your liver to work its best to filter out the bad stuff, it needs to produce bile. Think of it like a muscle; if it’s not being worked, it’s not giving you many (if any) benefits.
Liver cleansing is greatly stimulated by bitter foods, which helps not only cleanse the system but also balance cravings for sweet foods. Sweet foods like sugar, candy, and even natural syrups can all lead to fatty liver disease and Type 2 diabetes due to an overabundance of fructose and simple carbohydrates that halt the metabolism and cause the body to store excess fat. It also changes the type of foods you crave since insulin levels become imbalanced and the body is constantly on a rollercoaster of blood sugar ups and downs. Because they help keep the liver moving and flowing as it desires to whisk out toxins on a regular basis, bitter foods essentially balance out your hormones through stage two liver detoxification and elimination. At the same time, this also controls cholesterol levels as daily toxins and built-up wastes leave the body.
It’s really simple to work bitter foods into your diet. You’re probably already eating many of them and don’t even know it. Broccoli rabe, kale, chard, spinach, dandelion greens (awesome to juice with), raw cacao powder, Belgian endive, cilantro, and salad greens like radicchio and arugula are all some of the most common and most nutritious. If you tend to crave a lot of bitter (unhealthy foods) like excess coffee, processed chocolate, and even alcohol, you might not be getting enough healthy bitter foods like greens into your diet.
To improve the value of bitter foods even more, consider pairing them with some other foods that detox and stimulate liver activity and cleansing.Vitamin C rich foods, along with other enzyme-rich liver cleansing food, are some of the best to pair with bitter foods to gain maximum nutrition and improve the immune system to fight bacteria and toxic overload.
Here are some examples of ways to enjoy them:
- Add lemon juice over some greens as a clean salad dressing option
- Cook your broccoli rabe or kale with some sliced onion
- Cook some beets or beet greens with some garlic, ginger, and endive to make a delicious sauté
- Juice with some dandelion greens, lemon, arugula, cilantro and parsley for a tasty tonic
- Try a smoothie option by blending some water with a tiny wedge of lemon, some ginger root, spinach, kale, 1/2 an organic orange, a teaspoon of raw organic cacao, and a little liquid stevia or raspberries versus sugary sweeteners.
When you regularly consume bitter foods with other healthy plant-based foods in your diet, you’ll likely notice that your body might start to feel more balanced, cravings might diminish, and even digestive or other physical issues like headaches may possibly subside. That candy bar or third cup of coffee might not look as promising as it used to, and maybe that salad or veggie sauté might actually be something you start to crave. This it the body’s way of telling you that it’s receiving what it needs. Always listen to symptoms you have and try to look at your diet to see what changes you can make to achieve that balance.
All in all, don’t hate the bitter foods; nature created them for a reason and it’s time we gave them a little more love!
Also see How to Sneak More Greens in Your Food, Tips for Cooking Greens So That They Taste Delicious, 20 Ways to Enjoy Kale, the King of Greens, and 10 Creative (and Delicious) Ways to Flavor Raw Leafy Greens.
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Lead Image Source: Straight From The Earth Light Veggie Sauté