3 min|Rhiannon Lockhart
Bitter and Brilliant: Why Our Nutritionist Loves Bitter VegetablesNutrition, Health
If I asked you your favourite vegetable, I doubt you would say something like “dandelion greens” or “arugula”.But if this isn’t part of your nutritional arsenal already, I think it should be! Let me say that one more time for the people in the back: bitter vegetables should be part of your diet each and every week! Luckily, there are a variety of bitter green vegetables to ensure you don’t get sick of having the same thing over and over again. Adding bitter green, especially leafy vegetables to your diet can have a host of health benefits. Before we dive in to far, let’s look at some examples:
- Dandelion greens
- Brussels sprouts,
- Bitter melon
- Collard greens
- Beets and beet greens
Here are 4 reasons why I love bitter vegetables:
1. Bitter greens are liver-loving superfoodsIn our world today, especially living in a major city, we are exposed to toxins on a daily basis. While our livers are excellent detoxifiers, adding so much stress for so long can have it’s toll. That’s why it’s important to add liver-supportive foods to our diet like bitter greens.They do this by promoting the liver to produce bile, and making it do the work it was intended to do! With better bile production, we can also have better digestion.
2. Bitter vegetables help create homeostasis in our bodyBecause of their impact on our liver, bitter foods can also help us to balance hormones, blood sugar, and possibly leading to better weight management. With increased bile production, we then see more optimal digestion. This means that we’re able to better breakdown the food that we eat and absorb the nutrients that we get. When this happens, we can have more energy, utilize vitamins and minerals to help create other nutrients, etc.
3. They are high in nutrientsThis include vitamins A, C, and K, along with minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. Along with that, they are high in my favourite carbohydrate: fibre, both soluble and insoluble! Not only do they pack a nutritional punch, but they also help us to better absorb those nutrients and add bulk to our stool to remove excess toxins. Bitter vegetables are also very high in other antioxidants. As you likely know, antioxidants help to combat the effects of free-radical damage on our body.
4. They can help us to change our palateI know, the sound of chomping down on a plate of arugula or collard greens may not sound so appealing to many people, however it’s all about adding in foods to help change our palates. Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine promote the use of bitter foods at meals throughout the day. As well, having bitter foods at the start of our meal can promote better digestion, and leave us feeling fuller faster!
Ways to add bitter vegetables to your routine
- In a tea! I love to sip on roasted dandelion root or nettle tea.
- Add them to a smoothie to mask the flavours! I add spinach, arugula and collard greens to smoothie regularly. Just be sure to adapt your smoothie for the season.
- Mask it with garlic and lemon. If you have picky eaters, there really isn’t anything that a lots of garlic and lemon can’t hide!
- In a soup! Some leafy greens are heartier than others (like collard greens and kale), making them the perfect addition to a nourishing soup or stew.
Rhiannon is the Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Integrative. She has a passion for making healthy eating easy, accessible and fun, loves getting outside, and enjoys spending time with her dog, Chloe!