When you crave something, it is typically a food that is starchy, sweet, high in fat, or salty. These foods can come in the form of chocolates, cheese, fries, or chips, and almost everyone has gotten up late at night to munch on at least one of those foods. It is quite rare, however, for people to develop a craving for bitter foods, which have health benefits and complex flavors that are often overlooked.
Bitter foods have steadily been removed from the human diet over the past 100 years. This removal has been the result of replacing lots of plant-based foods with excess meats and processed foods. By focusing on meats, processed foods, refined sugars, and other foods that were not typically in the human diet, people have developed cholesterol problems, food addictions, hormonal issues, and overall sluggishness.
What Are Bitter Foods?
Bitter foods activate our bitter taste receptors. Foods like raw cacao, leafy greens, and bitter melon have been associated with an array of health benefits. Historically, bitter foods were brewed into tonics and consumed to help improve digestion, decrease water retention or bloating, and support regular bowel movements. Traditional Chinese Medicine used bitter herbs and roots to reduce the build up of bodily fluids and promote intestinal and heart health. Recent studies have indicated that bitter foods can optimize nutrient absorption and support the gut microbiome.
Great Bitter Foods To Eat
- Bitter Melon
- Dandelion Greens
- Chicory Root
- Sesame seeds
- Brussels Sprouts
- Broccoli Rabe
Bitter foods may help to eliminate cravings because they stimulate bitter taste receptors in your gut. This can trigger the release of two hormones, PYY and GLP-1, which control appetite and hunger. When you eat bitter foods, you may notice that you feel satiated for a lot longer than usual.
Promote Blood Sugar Balance
The pancreas makes insulin, which is the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose levels. The pancreas contains bitter taste receptors, which may help to secrete the GLP-1 hormone. GLP-1 helps to regulate food intake and it stimulates the release of insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. Overall, the consumption of bitter foods may help to keep your blood sugar from spiking and crashing.
The use of bitter foods to improve digestion is not recent news. New research, however, suggests that consuming bitter foods can help stimulate saliva and stomach acid production to aid with healthy digestion. Some bitter foods also stimulate bile production, which is produced by the liver to break down and digest fats. Increasing your intake of bitter foods may also help increase digestive enzyme production.
Maximize Nutrient Absorption
In connection with the previous health benefit, the activation of digestive enzymes can help you maximize your ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Recent studies have shown that bitter foods are especially beneficial for helping the body absorb calcium. Not only can bitter foods help you absorb nutrients more efficiently, but they can also provide you with various vitamins and minerals that can help you avoid common nutritional deficiencies.