Don’t Shy Away from Bitter Foods

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Funky tastes often hide nutritional benefits.

It’s a well-documented fact that weird, unpleasant tasting foods are often the best for you. I guess that explains where the whole kale craze came from, because let me tell you, I can’t stand the taste of kale. But I still eat it, not because I enjoy the taste, but because it’s packed with vitamins, just like many other bitter foods. Bitter flavors often have a disruptive, slightly medicine-y taste, but they’re often paired with hints of sweet, savory, or other flavor profiles. If you can work your way past that initial surge of unpleasantness, there’s good stuff underneath.

One of the best examples of bitter foods with hidden depths is cacao. Pure cacao is crazy bitter, like trying to eat a mouthful of vaguely chocolate-flavored dirt, but it’s also full of important minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Also, contrary to what its presence in chocolate may imply, pure cacao doesn’t have any sugar in it, so it makes a great mix-in for smoothies and such.

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Another bitter health fad that’s taken the world by storm is apple cider vinegar. Speaking as someone who took a shot of straight vinegar in their youth, I can say with confidence that it’s absolutely awful, taste wise. It’s just as well, because you’re not even supposed to drink it straight; apple cider vinegar’s bitterness is meant to be watered down with other flavors and dressings. If you can get the taste where you want it, you’ll reap fantastic benefits like healthier skin and better gut health.

So yeah, bitter foods taste unpleasant and medicine-y, but hey, that just means it’s good for you! If medicine tasted like cotton candy, you’d be suspicious of it.