I’m thrilled to announce that I have made my first appearance as a guest expert on national TV! On September 7, 2016 I appeared on CTV Your Morning to discuss the health benefits of bitter foods and how we can enjoy them on a daily basis.
We are all born with a love of sweet foods and a dislike of bitter flavours. This is because sweet food promises to give us an energy boost and many bitter foods are associated with toxic plants. So it all comes down to our survival instincts kicking in. Since food manufacturers know we enjoy the sweet flavours over bitter flavours, they are always working to make foods less bitter.
During my segment on CTV Your Morning, I sat down with Ben Mulroney to discuss the health benefits of bitter foods and share tips on how to help you recover some of the nutrients that are lost along the way.
Health Benefits of Bitter Foods
The bitter compounds in food are actually full of health benefits. They have compounds that enhance digestion, antioxidants that prevent cancer, and phytonutrients that detox the liver.
The taste of bitter food on your tongue helps stimulate enzyme production and bile flow. Enzymes help break down food and bile emulsifies fats and makes fat-soluble vitamins easier to absorb. When I work with clients struggling with digestion, I often recommend they start their meal with a bitter tincture. If you struggle with digestion, I would love to help you out. Check out my Holistic Nutrition services or schedule a free 15-min discovery call with me.
Bitter phytonutrients like antioxidants have an anti-cancer effect because they neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are like balls in a pinball machine bouncing around causing damage which may play a role in cancer development. Antioxidants catch these balls so they can no longer bounce around and cause damage.
Our liver manages cholesterol, balances hormones, detoxes the body, and metabolizes fat. It does a really great job detoxifying all of the toxic compounds we come into contact with, but it is always good to help it out. Bitter foods contain phytonutrients that support the liver detox process.
My Favourite Bitter Foods
The top bitter foods to eat more of are kale, dandelion greens and chocolate.
Kale’s cancer preventing benefits have been linked to its high concentration of two antioxidants: carotenoids and flavonoids. Kale is best enjoyed raw in a salad, but it needs some love. I highly recommend massaging it before serving to help break down some of the cellular structure that makes it tough to eat.
My favourite way to enjoy kale is this Crispy Chickpea Kale Salad from my cookbook Healthy Fresh Salads.
Dandelions are a bitter powerhouse! Eating the dandelion greens raw in a salad is a fantastic way to get your digestive juices flowing before a heavy meal. Dandelion roots have fantastic liver detoxification properties, you can drink a yummy tea made from roasted dandelion roots.
I have a delicious recipe for Dandelion Vanilla Lattes.
Chocolate is also a fantastic bitter food, but I’m not talking about milk chocolate, I’m talking about raw cacao. Raw cacao is packed with antioxidants that counteract cellular damage that can lead to chronic diseases like cancer or heart disease. When cacao is raw, it still has all of its minerals and vitamins.
I love to use raw cacao when making the Chocolate Avocado Pudding from my cookbook Healthy Dairy Free Desserts.
The Best Way to Cook Bitter Foods
Cooking vegetables can destroy some nutrients and enzymes, but it can make others more bioavailable. For example, the antioxidant content of kale is reduced when it is cooked but the antioxidant content of tomatoes increases when they are cooked.
If you want to cook your vegetables, light steaming is the best way to go to preserve phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Place veggies in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and cook until al dente.
Boiling vegetables is one of the worst ways to cook them because lots of the nutrients are thrown away in the boiling water.