The sweet truth about bitter food


It rescues the liver and aids gut health and digestion


Bitter foods are usually the last ones we crave for – I mean, why choose something bitter when you can go for sweet, sour or salty?

There are a couple of reasons actually, and they are mainly connected to gut health and digestion – an incredible duo for the body’s overall wellbeing.

Back in the day, tasting bitter foods was a primal way of detecting poisons. This protective mechanism still works in our favour nowadays as it stimulates the body’s defense system, which then enhances antioxidant dynamics against disease.

“So, like sweets cause spikes and dips in insulin levels, blood sugar and hunger, bitter foods are the complete opposite; they actually help maintain a balanced blood sugar level and moderate hunger”

Historically, bitter foods were used post meal to aid digestion and provide relief. Recent studies have also shown that bitter foods help maximise the absorption of nutrients. Another reason why they help with digestion is because they stimulate the liver to produce bile, keeping it active. An active and healthy liver is much more efficient in processing the less healthy things the body is subject to, even if once-in-a-while.

So, like sweets cause spikes and dips in insulin levels, blood sugar and hunger, bitter foods are the complete opposite; they actually help maintain a balanced blood sugar level and moderate hunger.


According to draxe.com, these fruits and vegetables are among the top 20 bitter foods: artichokes, rucola, broccoli rabe, chicory, endive, grapefruit, ginger, kale, aubergine and bitter melon. Also important to mention is coffee!


Grapefruit smoothie with ginger root and honey in a glass jar

Bitter foods are not enjoyable for everyone. Some people are more sensitive to bitterness as they have more tastebuds, which tend to lose sensitivity with age.

So we are more likely to enjoy bitter foods as adults rather than as children.

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