The Bittersweet Truth Why You Should Eat Your Fruits And Vegetables
How bitter foods support health and digestion
Bitter? No, thank you! Unfortunately, this is often the first reaction to the rather unpopular taste. Bitter foods are a blessing for our digestion, but unfortunately, we ban them from our diet. Today I will show you why we should enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables much more often and in which foods they are found.
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What are bitter tasting foods?
Bitters (bitter substances) summarize all bitter-tasting ingredients in plants. In nature, bitter substances mostly occur in the form of secondary plant substances and have the task of protecting the plants from predators, for example. We, humans, find the bitter taste rather unpleasant because it was once considered a warning sign of poisonous plants. Incidentally, this warning system is even more sensitive in children, since their detoxification system is not yet as well developed as that of adults. Therefore, they reflexively spit out bitter-tasting plants as a natural response rather than swallowing them.
However, there is a clear difference between extremely bitter flavored and poisonous plants and moderately bitter plants that our ancestors ate every day, such as wild herbs, roots, and some types of lettuce.
Are bitter substances healthy?
Bitter substances can be harsh in taste but have always been an important part of nutrition. The archetypes of today's fruits and vegetables all contained plenty of it - much more than today's varieties. Because bitter substances are very healthy and indispensable for a healthy, balanced diet.
Bitter substances primarily promote our digestion. Even when chewing, the bitter taste stimulates the production of saliva. This makes our food easier to digest. At the same time, the taste stimulates the stomach, liver, and bile to produce digestive secretions and prepares them for the imminent meal.
Since the bitter substances can regulate our digestive juices, they serve as natural protection against heartburn and hyperacidity. They also regulate appetite and satiety - and thus protect against "overeating". They are also said to reduce cravings for sweets. Try it out and eat a piece of dark chocolate (from 85 or 90 percent cocoa content) if you have an acute craving for sweets!
Bitter substances also stimulate intestinal movements - ideal conditions for the rapid removal of metabolic waste. A healthy intestinal flora in turn supports our immune system. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, traditional Chinese medicine recommends eating more bitter substances.
Why are we often lacking in bitter substances today?
Bitter isn't exactly our favorite flavor by nature. On the contrary: Many poisonous plants warn us not to eat them with their often harsh, bitter taste. Sweet taste, on the other hand, promises quick energy and no danger to the body.
Plant breeders and farmers have taken advantage of this fact. When it comes to their fruit, vegetables, and salads, they give particular importance to a "widespread" taste - and the bitter substances don't fit in. Even varieties that were once characteristically bitter now taste rather sweet, depending on the variety: chicory, apples, rocket (rucola), and grapefruit, to name a few.
Therefore, at least part of the health value of bitter substances falls by the wayside. But there are still some foods that provide your body with bitter ingredients.
Integrate more bitter substances into your healthy diet
These foods contain many bitter substances
Compared to wild varieties, bitter lettuces today such as chicory, endive, and radicchio contain fewer secondary plant ingredients and bitter substances. Here it is important to look out for varieties or suppliers who specifically focus on more original varieties. You can get lucky at weekly local farmer markets and you can still find bittersweet salads even if they aren't locally produced. Rarer types of lettuce such as Treviso or dandelion lettuce often contain more of the original bitter substances.
Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, savoy cabbage, celery, onions, and artichokes also provide bitter substances. Kale and Brussels sprouts are at the top with their content of bitter substances, because they underwent fewer overall changes during breeding. When it comes to broccoli, it depends on the variety. Compare a seasonal and regionally grown broccoli with one from greenhouse production.
Feel free to eat more herbs: especially sage, wild thyme, oregano, rosemary and savory contain bitter substances.
Good extra virgin olive oil, which is not heated during production (cold-pressed) and in which no coloring and flavorings are filtered out, also provides bitter substances! You can taste it too. It has a tart aroma and an intense yellowish-greenish color, unlike refined olive oil.
Dandelion provides a particularly simple solution to the supply problem of bitter substances. It grows in almost every meadow, in every garden, and even in wall crevices.
All parts of the dandelion contain bitter substances and are also edible: flowers, leaves, and roots. The older the plant, the more bitter substances it contains, especially taraxin, a bitter alkaloid. Dandelion is particularly good as an ingredient in salads, soups, or green smoothies.
The yarrow can also be picked wild on natural meadows. The herb with pretty white flowers supports the liver and is also said to have a positive effect on gastrointestinal issues. You can easily brew tea from the yarrow plant. Simply take a teaspoon of the herb (fresh or dried) and pour boiling water over it. After letting it steam for five to ten minutes, you can drink the bitter tea.
Wormwood is one of the best-known bitter medicinal herbs and, like yarrow and dandelion, belongs to the daisy family. A tea made from wormwood is actually not for sensitive palates. If you still want to try it, you can approach it slowly and over time increase the brewing time, cup by cup. It is said to stimulate the appetite before meals and get the entire digestion going.
Its bitter substances give the beer its characteristic tart taste: hops. Unfortunately, this gives no special permission to drink more beer, because the bitter substances in beer are too diluted to have a noticeable effect.
Hop tea, which can be bought in health food stores, is alcohol-free and, above all, effective.
Ginger is not only extremely aromatic but also a boon for your digestion. This is due to its numerous bitter substances - which in the case of ginger are also quite sharp tasting. To benefit from this, add a slice of ginger to various dishes and let it cook. Important: Leave the peel on and only wash the ginger thoroughly beforehand.
You get the concentrated power of the root when you brew tea from ginger. To do this, simply add 3 to 5 slices of ginger to a cup of water, depending on your taste, and let them steam in hot water for at least 10 minutes.
By the way, die-hards can also chew a piece of ginger straight or try a ginger shot! Or just enjoy some pickled ginger with your sushi.
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How to enjoy your fruits and vegetables to help you manage your health and your weight, I will show you in my upcoming podcast "Should You Eat More Fruits and Vegetables for Weigth Loss?". Check here for more information about the podcast as well as an overview of all our episodes!
For now, I wish you every success in boosting your body's natural energies by eating your greens!
Enjoy your day!
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