Not everyone likes bitter food. But bitter substances in foods have various health benefits. Among other things, they can stimulate digestion and help you lose weight. And they are recommended for people with diabetes.
Few people love them, many avoid them and are disgusted when they eat them: vegetables, fruits as well as herbs and spices with bitter substances divide people. Natural plant substances with a bitter taste can be beneficial for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The non-profit health organization diabetesDE – Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe draws attention to this in a statement.
Children in particular do not react happily to this
Many people often don’t like bitter-tasting foods, at least when they’re children: dishes with vegetables such as asparagus or Brussels sprouts as well as salads with rocket, radicchio or chicory can put you in a bad mood at the table.
According to the experts, the instinctive defense is a protective mechanism and is due to the fact that “bitter” is initially perceived as “poisonous”: the plant uses its bitter substances to protect itself from predators.
Children also have a significantly higher sense of taste than adults: in infancy, people have around 10,000 taste buds on their tongues. As life progresses, they become less and less sensitive and their number decreases.
Get used to the taste
If you often eat foods with bitter substances, you get used to the bitter taste. This is why coffee and dark chocolate, for example, are popular luxury foods. “We recommend a plant-based diet, especially a diet rich in vegetables, to people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes,” explains Dr. Dipl. oec. troph. Astrid Tombek, diabetes consultant DDG.
Many types of vegetables, salads and herbs not only provide valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber, but also beneficial bitter substances: “They promote digestion and improve the production of stomach acid and bile. This makes fat digestion easier,” says the ecotrophologist.
At the same time, they reduce the feeling of hunger or the desire for sweets. “This is beneficial for people with diabetes and obesity.”
In addition, they inhibit inflammation and there is evidence that bitter substances may also have an effect on blood sugar levels: Plant substances from bitter gourd, a vegetable found in tropical countries, could potentially lower glucose levels in people with prediabetes, a study has found.
Freshly prepared instead of dietary supplements
The extracts of some plants that contain bitter substances are also available as dietary supplements. These include, for example, capsules with artichoke extract.
“We recommend absorbing the bitter substances directly from freshly prepared vegetable dishes and salads rather than from capsules, tablets or drops,” emphasizes diabetesDE expert Astrid Tombek.
“It is cheaper, tastier and better because of the other healthy ingredients it contains.” In addition, overdosing can occur when taking dietary supplements, which is impossible when eating alone due to the taste.
Be careful when taking certain medicines
Many bitter plant varieties are in season now in autumn. These include, for example, types of cabbage such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts or savoy cabbage; Artichokes and eggplants are also currently available fresh.
This also applies to types of lettuce such as chicory, radicchio and rocket or citrus fruits such as grapefruit. However, the latter can weaken the effect of medication or, conversely, even increase it.
“For example, anyone who has to take cholesterol-lowering drugs or medication to treat cardiovascular diseases should clarify with their medical team whether and which foods should not be on the menu,” recommends Astrid Tombek.
General caution for all people is to be wary of bitter-tasting zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins – undesirable toxic plant substances called “cucurbitacins” cause the bitter taste.
There are some free recipe ideas on the diabetesDE – German Diabetes Aid website. (ad)