There’s a good chance you used to scrunch up your nose at bitter foods, relegating them to refrigerator Siberia. But these days, they’re the star of restaurant menus and grocery-store produce aisles.
“People have discovered how much more interesting and satisfying food is when you add bitterness,” says Jennifer McLagan, Toronto-based chef and author of Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor. McLagan points to trending kale, unsweetened dark chocolate, and craft-brew beers as evidence. Better yet, bitter foods often get their tang from a combination of health-protective (frequently antioxidant) phytochemicals, including polyphenols, flavonoids, glucosinolates, and alkaloids. Ancient healers knew to harness the power of bitter plants for various maladies, and in Ayurvedic medicine, bitter foods have long been used to balance pitta and kapha doshas.
How to Begin Adding Bitter Foods to Your Diet
If bitter isn’t your cup of tea, try incorporating small amounts into meals, and opt for foods with subtler bitterness, such as walnuts, celery, horseradish, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, and Brussels sprouts.
Try these recipes:
Kathryn Budig’s Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh
Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries
Potato-Leek Soup with Horseradish
Bitter Greens and Shaved Fennel Salad
Raspberry Beet Salad with Mango Turmeric Dressing