Medical Articles

Bitter And Sour - Why Eat Vegetables?

My aunt and I seem to share a gene that results in us enjoying plain, raw lemons. It's sick, I know. I love to eat the lemon slices that come in drinks, or on a plate as a garnish.

I also share a gene with my dad that results in us not being at all embarrassed to eat garnishes.

Most people, I've come to discover, don't actually like to eat lemons. Most people don't like sour foods in general. If you're thinking, "I like sour. Sour gummies are my favorites!", I have to tell you - they're really more on the sweet side.

There's nothing wrong with not liking sour things. You don't need to eat lemons on a healthy diet plan - it'll just leave more for me! In fact, the sour flavor actually helps our brain tell us that we shouldn't eat too much of that food.

Lemons are antibacterial, antiseptic and supportive of the liver. Too many lemons will make you feel sick though, since their benefits are only needed in small amounts.

Like sour, bitter is another flavor that isn't usually popular. Bitter foods are ones that may be toxic, and so our taste buds warn us right away.

Vegetables, although very healthy, do have a component of bitterness to them. Some are stronger than others. Brussels sprouts and broccoli are notoriously bitter, and when they're overcooked they actually get more and more bitter.

Since children in general have more sensitive taste buds than adults, designed to protect their more sensitive digestive systems, they are not fond of bitter flavors. When you look at it that way, it's not really very surprising that kids don't want to eat their vegetables.

For some, the aversion to vegetables continues into adulthood. It could be that they simply never learned to like them, or it could be a special sensitivity to the bitter compounds in vegetables.

So, some people are just genetically programmed to dislike vegetables. It's pretty rare, and it's not an excuse to skip out on vegetables entirely because they're really important. It just means that you need to be especially conscious in meal planning to make vegetables dishes that are delicious and minimize the bitterness.

But one simple idea you can try tonight for making vegetables more delicious is to use some salt, or a salty condiment like tamari (soy sauce). A little bit of salt used on vegetables while they cook - or rubbed into them if you're eating them raw - will help soften both the texture and the flavor of whatever vegetable you're working with. Salt is good for you in small amounts.

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