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When Bitter is Better

Bitter vegetables are being pushed to the back of the eating agenda as crop development focuses on the trend for small and sweet. But it's in the bitterness in vegetables that healthy anti-oxidants reside.

Nature's bitter tasting plant components have been proven time and again to help reduce harmful cholesterol, and clean the blood from potential carcinogens.

Ayurveda encourages us to explore all 6 primary flavours or rasas (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent) at every meal and warns that indulging excessively in salty or sweet areas leads to imbalance.

Bitter taste in Ayurveda is called tiksa rasa and it's considered good for digestion, intellectual power, and restoring our appreciation of a full range of flavours it is also an antidote to excessive sweetness and cravings for sugar - this is one of the reasons that bitter melon has been gaining interest in the health press recently as an aid in treatment of diabetes.

In Ayurveda the rule is that like increases like and opposites balance each other out - so adding a dash of bitter foods/flavours to the diet helps bring the body back into balance where sugar is an issue.

Tip: Look out for bitter leafy greens, kale, and purple sprouting, or use turmeric in cooking to add a little bitter taste and some antioxidant power to your diet.


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