Taste buds might determine what foods taste delicious to you and which end up politely spit out in a napkin, but a new study proves that it's possible to physically alter the way you taste certain foods-specifically those pesky bitter ones thatВ can be hard to swallow but offer so many health benefits. Think antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, vitamin-packed radicchio, and nutrient-loaded dandelion greens.
Researchers at Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently found that the proteins in saliva connected to flavor can be modified by eating bitter foods. Throughout the course of the study, researchersВ asked participants to drink chocolate almond milk three times a dayВ for a week and rate its bitterness (cocoa is a naturallyВ bitter ingredient if left unsweetened).
After the participants consumed the milk, researchers found that the protein composition of their saliva had changed and wasВ comprised of more proline-rich proteins known to bind the sharpВ flavor compounds in chocolate. As these proteins increased, the participants noted that the milk was less bitter. Essentially, they found that the more bitter foods you eat, the more you'll enjoy the way they taste and want to add more of them to your diet.
"By changing your diet, you might be able to change your flavor experience of foods that at one point tasted nasty to you,"В according to Cordelia A. Running, PhD, in a press release about the study.
This is big news for anyone who avoids bitter vegetables due to their harsh taste, especially when so many can be beneficial to the body. Charles Passler, MD, (nutritionist to the likes of Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima) tells MindBodyGreen that bitter veggies can do wonders for your digestive system. They activateВ cells in the stomach that aid acid, bile, and digestive enzyme production, which all boost digestion and can help detoxify the liver. Ready to train your taste buds to crave these good-for-you bitter foods? Start by adding theseВ items to your grocery list.В
Dandelion GreensThe First Mess
Dandelion greens are a great source of folate, magnesium, and dietary fiber. They're also packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6. Throw them in a homemade soup, sautГ©e them for a side dish, or toss them in a smoothie.
Dark ChocolateMinimalist Baker
Dark chocolate is known for its antioxidant properties. It's also thought to reduce heart disease risk, improve brain function, and protect your skin from sun damage. Indulge in a square or two at night for a healthy treat.
Broccoli RabeThe First Mess
Just a small serving of broccoli rabe provides over half of your daily recommended amount of vitamins A and C. It's also a good source of folate and is full of free radical-fighting antioxidants.
ArugulaThe Modern Proper
Mix up an arugula salad to reap the benefits of this nutrient-rich green. It contains calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins C, K, and A.
KaleHalf Baked Harvest
This superfood will give you a healthy dose of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, K, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.В Toss it in a salad orВ sautГ©e it on the stove with seasonings for a nutritious side.