Want To Actually Crave Green Vegetables? Science Just Found The Secret

Photo by J.R. Photography

When it comes to healthy eating, it tends to be easier to get on board with consuming healthier versions of treats like banana bread and chocolate than it is to start craving bitter greens. It's not just you—it's a biological preservation tactic, since, in many foods, bitterness is a sign of toxicity. That's a shame, because, according to Charles Passler, M.D., a doctor with clients like Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima, bitter greens come with a lot of digestive benefits.

"Bitter foods activate receptors on the tongue, which in turn activate cells in your stomach to normalize acid production for better digestion," he says. "When this happens, bile production and digestive enzyme production are improved as well. Proper bile production is essential for detoxifying the liver, excretion of heavy metals from your body, hormone balance, and bowel regularity."

If eating radicchio or dandelion makes you wrinkle your nose, don't worry—science has your back. Researchers out of Purdue University found that the secret to eating more bitter foods is, ironically, simply eating more bitter foods. For the six-week study, 64 participants were fed milk with varying degrees of cocoa, which, unsweetened, is actually one of nature's more bitter foods. As the participants consumed more bitter milk, their saliva actually changed to produce proteins that made the milk taste less bitter.

"Saliva modifies flavor, which in turn modifies dietary choices," the study's author, Cordelia A. Running, Ph.D., explains. "Those choices then influence exposure to flavors, which over time may stimulate altered expression of saliva proteins, and the circle begins anew." Essentially, the more green salads you eat, the less bitter they'll taste to you. The less sweetener you use, the less sweetener you'll need. The only catch? Once participants stopped consuming the bitter foods, their saliva reverted to its original structure.

Wanna get started on your own taste-bud journey?

  • Sauté some dandelion greens in olive or avocado oil with sea salt. When they're wilted, add ground garlic and onion and eat as a side dish.
  • Make a CBD chocolate latte—but forgo the sugar (or use less!) for a bitter treat.
  • Roast some broccoli raab, then top it with a squeeze of lemon juice, lemon zest, and some salt.
  • Use endive as a delicious (and super-pretty!) taco shell.

A few more ways to incorporate bitter foods—plus exactly how much to consume daily for glowing skin.

And do you want to learn how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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