Spas are rediscovering the health benefits of bitter greens. That’s inspiring home cooks to also add these former staples to their own meal plans. Bitter greens are the salad and/or cooking greens that have a slightly acrid taste. They include endive, arugula, and radicchio. Old-fashioned cooking greens like dandelion, mustard and turnip greens are also on the list, as are curly kale varieties.

What Their Taste Reveals

The slight-to-pronounced bitterness in these foods give away their health-giving chemical components. Bitter greens contain phytonutrients like glucosinolates. These nutrients have immunity-boosting properties that lower the risk of cancer.

Bitter greens also have highly digestive properties, helping your liver detoxify your system at a greater rate. In addition, their mildly diuretic effect expels the water weight women tend to retain.

Vitchakorn Koonyosying

Additional Benefits

Bitter greens are packed with vitamins and minerals.They contribute fiber and vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Together, these nutrients provide health and beauty benefits, from clearer skin and digestion aid, to vision and nervous system protection.

Bitter Greens are a Even a Diet Aid

Bitter-tasting foods promote a slimmer shape through more efficient digestion and their minimal calorie count. But bitter greens also have an intriguing way of helping you control your eating habits. Even if you adore bitter foods, their taste keeps you from mindlessly shoveling accompanying food in your mouth. That’s why they’re a great addition to starchy casseroles and other heavy meals. Of course, they’re also great in salads and side dishes.

Lefteris kallergis

But What if You Just Can’t Stand Them?

A quick saute of any of the cooking greens in the bitter family helps mellow out the taste. Season beet greens, broccoli rabe or kale with a dash of sea salt and a dribble of olive oil. A scant topping of turkey bacon or lean ham can also make them go down easier.

Jennifer Pallian

For salads, use equal parts bitter and mild greens. Arugula tossed with butterhead lettuce is a perfect blend of bitter and mild. As your taste buds grow more accustomed to bitter foods, switch up the ratio with a second bitter, like endive or radicchio.

Don’t forget a classic spa method for hiding healthy greens — smoothies! Toss a handful of kale or dandelion greens into a fruit/honey smoothie. You’ll enjoy their nutritional benefits, but their taste will be masked.


Header photo by Max Delsid on Unsplash