Bitter taste properties

Benefits of bitter food

Bitter foods help whet the appetite and promote digestion

Bitter principles stimulate our appetite by acting on the hypothalamus and by increasing peristalsis. These properties are very useful for malnourished and weak people because they generally are very little hungry, such as children, people emerging from a period of convalescence or anorexic patients.

In addition to whet your appetite, bitter principles are useful to promote digestion. The reason for this is because bitter principles stimulate the production of the hormone gastrin, which causes a cascade of changes in the digestive system in order to digest food best.

Among the main effects of this hormone we have: an increase in the production of bile, in pancreatic juice and stomach juices. This will activate digestion and increase the peristaltic movements of the intestines.

Bitter effects

rocket, edible bitter foodRocket is one of the most characteristic bitter food

The increase in stomach juices can more effectively grind food. In addition, these juices are very important to destroy those microorganisms that could be harmful to the body.

Many people,,prone to infectious diseases, have low levels of digestive juices so that they not only have trouble digesting food well enough, but they often suffer many infections.

Some problems of food allergies are due to food not being properly digested. The use of these foods can prevent or alleviate food incompatibilities in some people.

Bitter taste stimulates liver functions

Very important is the stimulation of the liver to increase production of bile. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and expelled into the intestine to act on the fat from food.

Bile is needed to break up fat into smaller particles, which then will be crushed by the digestive juices. Bile is also needed to promote absorption of fats in the small intestine and, therefore, the fat soluble vitamins.. On the other hand, bile, together with stomach juices, help to eliminate microorganisms that could enter the body through food.

By increasing bile production the flow of fluid through the liver will also help to expel a number of toxins that otherwise would accumulate in the liver. Increased production and expulsion of bile from the gallbladder supports prevention and treatment of gallstones.

The food is digested and comes out better and prevents the appearance of numerous gastrointestinal anomalies such as flatulence or intestinal putrefaction. Bitter foods also prevent constipation. Food is “burned” properly to maintain much more stable levels of blood sugar, providing assistance in preventing diabetes.

Bitter foods help maintain ideal weight

A more proper metabolism of foods leads to a better food use and a better fat removal, so the body retains it less.

The use of bitter principles helps to cut calories and promotes weight loss diets.

Dandelion leaves to remove fatsDandelion leaves are an excelent bitter food to remove body fat.

On the other hand, it has been established that bitter taste foods serve to satisfy the hunger more easily than other flavors.

This is one of the main reasons, among others, which is recommended to eat salad with bitter components (lettuce, arugula, dandelion, etc) as a starter.

Numerous comparative studies have shown that communities that feel a predilection for this type of food, as the inhabitants of India, China and some alpine communities of Austria, Italy and Switzerland, are people with a slender complexion.

Bitter foods alkalinize your body

Bitter preparations have the function of alkalinizing one’s body to prevent it to become acidic.

Acidification of the body or acidosis is mainly due to the role played by the simple carbohydrates in metabolism.

The intake of simple sugars is what determines that your body becomes acidic with a corresponding increase in some diseases, including cancer.

Wild plants saladSalads containing bitter foods, such as wild plant salads, alkalinize your body preventing many diseases

Bitter foods prevent anemia

There is evidence that this type of taste favors the absorption of iron, needed to prevent anemia. It also enhances the absorption of vitamins, especially vitamin B12 or cobalamin that is responsible, among other functions, for stimulating the production of red blood cells. Low levels of red blood cells are a symptom of anemia.

Bitter foods tonify the body

Bitter food also helps metabolize fat soluble vitamins, that’s to say, those vitamins that dissolve in fats. (vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin K.)

All this implies a better general metabolism more efficient with the use of nutrients, which makes the body feel better, with more strength and vigor.

There is evidence that the revitalization of the body affects not only the physical part of our body but also to our mind.

People who take these principles feel psychologically stronger, happier and more eager to enjoy life. Therefore, the use of preparations with bitter principles can be considered a very effective remedy against apathy, depression or melancholy.

Not for people who suffer from heartburn!

Since bitter foods increase stomach acid production, they are NOT suitable for people with excessive acidity. The use of these principles could worsen heartburn.

Be cautious with toxic bitter foods!

Some bitter substances are toxic and must be known to avoid them. For example, the seeds of the Rosaceae family such as plums, apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, etc. have a bitter taste. In combination with the saliva, bitter principles of rose family seed foods are broken down to produce hydrocyanic acid (cyanide) a very poisonous component.

  • Bitter almonds are clear examples of a bitter toxic food. They contain a bitter principle called amygdalin which, by the action of the ferment emulsin from saliva, becomes hydrocyanic acid. In spite of this, bitter almonds are dangerously used in Italian pastry and beverages (Amaretto, almond macaroons, Amaretti di Saronno…)
  • Rue is another plant that contains bitter principles used in the food industry to flavor foods, however, used in natural medicine can be very dangerous.
  • Mushrooms are foods that contain bitter principles. Many mushrooms are edible but there are many poisonous mushrooms that must be avoided.

More information on bitter taste plants

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 February, 2024

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