Life needs some bitters! The must-know facts about 'bitters'

In Hong Kong, it is not hard to find sweet food in bakeries, citrus drinks at a bar, and of course, spicy food in TamJai.

But what about the bitter taste? Maybe some of you have found it in dark cocoa and dark roasted coffee. Yet, it is still uncommon to the public. Therefore, let's sum up some of the greatest benefits of 'BITTERS'.


Natural detoxifier (helps stimulate liver enzymes, assisting in the detoxification process and promoting a healthy liver)

liver detoxification, bitter taste, gastrin, digestive enzyme

When our tongue senses bitter taste, it’s usually for the compound glucosinolates that is naturally present in bitter vegetables many of which are dark green vegetables like kale. It stimulates our liver to produce more liver enzymes which supports the liver to better perform the detoxification process. The bitter taste serves as a charging battery for the liver to keep up with its continuous detoxification functions.


Bitters prime the upper digestive functions of the stomach, liver and pancreas via a nerve reflex

chocolate, upper digestive system, bile, digestive enzyme

Bitters promotes the activation of gastrin in the digestive system which can raise the production of digestive juices in the stomach to aid the break down of food. It also enhances the bile secretion in the pancreas that acts like digestive juices to break down larder to digest protein and carbohydrates.


Stimulates the secretion of saliva and stomach acid to aid in healthy digestion

bitter melon, insulin increase, blood glucose

Bitter taste can increase the secretion of insulin which increase the uptake of glucose (sugar in blood) by cells, controling blood sugar levels. And it enhances saliva secretion (more digestive enzymes in the mouth cavity), which promotes the breakdown of starches for further blood glucose uptake. Some studies suggest that a higher intake of bitter food (e.g. bitter melon) can facilitate glucose to enter the cells, helping your body to process it then store it in the liver, muscles, and fat.


Feel interested to know more about how bitter affects our lives? Visit Swedish Bitters: A Beginners Guide

Edited by Zec Yim, HKU-certified Nutritionist

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