Do You Prefer Bitter or Sweet?

by Corinna Freitag

We prefer sweet over bitter taste by nature. I addition we are used to eat a lot of sugar since our childhood. And the industry followed our request for sweet food and cultivated fruit and vegetables with less and less bitter substances. Even though, bitter substances are so healthy.

Why are bitter substances so healthy?

Just to name a few, bitter substances promote our digestion, are anti-inflammatory and activate or immune defense.

They improve our digestion as they stimulate the production of our digestive juices as our saliva, gastric juice and bile. This improves the break down, absorption and transportation of our food. Rotting and bloating is prevented as no bacteria are needed to degrade undigested particles. And thus, this kind of germ cannot spread excessively.

They are anti-inflammatory and stimulate our immune defense as bitter receptors (T2R) are activated, which leads to different preventive mechanisms by our body.

Which food does contain bitter substances?

As already mentioned fruits and vegetables are cultivated to contain fewer and fewer bitter substances. Luckily, still some food exists with bitter compounds as radicchio, endive, chicory, dandelion, galangal, ginger, turmeric, artichoke, quinoa, and dark chocolate.

Whereas, the bitter substances of cucurbits as zucchini, cucumber and melon are poisonous in too high concentrations.

A fun fact – as I started to eat quinoa the description on the packaging recommended to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove the bitter substances. At that time, I had no clue of bitter substances and their advantages. I even thought it is something bad, if the producer suggests to remove it. So, I washed my quinoa carefully. Since I know about the health benefits of bitter compounds, I stopped to do this.

How to get used to the bitter taste?

If you are not used to bitter taste it might cost you quite an effort to eat bitter food. You can start by adding first just a bit of bitter herbs to your meal or just some radicchio to your salad. Adjust your taste buds slowly to the bitterness. For example, I loved sweet food for years. I even had cake for breakfast. For me it was a continuous step by step process to decrease the amount of sweet and to increase the amount of bitter food. Basically, I used the technique that I described in one of my former articles.

Nowadays, I prefer the bitter over the sweet taste. If I eat cake, I can only taste sweet – but nothing else. As I am not used to it, anymore, I am not able to taste any different flavors than just sweet.

My candy is a piece of 100 % chocolate. Instead of an espresso after lunch, I drink a tea made out of bitter herbs. I like to add grapefruit to my muesli, radicchio and dandelion to my salad, and herbs as galangal, ginger and turmeric to my food. And I enjoy the food together with the health benefits.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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