Salad greens are a common staple for calorie-conscious dieters and health enthusiasts alike. While for the longest time lettuce has reigned supreme as the most popular salad green among consumers, there are healthier options out there, including arugula.
Sometimes called rocket or roquette, arugula is a Mediterranean green with a distinct mustard-like flavor and strong, pungent aroma. When harvested too late in the season, arugula can be a tad too bitter to eat. However, even tender, less bitter arugula leaves can be an acquired taste for some, as previously noted. Here Zoey Sky, Food.news, reflects on eliminating gastroesophageal reflux disease with the use of bitter herbs and vegetables:
“While some herbs are used in different cuisines to enhance the flavor of certain dishes, other herbs are used medicinally to treat minor complaints like colds or nausea. According to researchers, bitter herbs and vegetables can be used to treat the symptoms of conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reported that in 2010, about 4.7 million people were hospitalized for GERD. The good news is some studies suggest
that bitter herbs can help naturally improve digestion and treat digestive conditions like GERD.
The medicinal benefits of bitter herbs and vegetables
The bitter compounds in plants help protect them from being consumed by insects and animals. Humans and various animals “instinctively avoid bitter-tasting foods because they are equated with poisonous qualities.”
In traditional medicine, herbal cures like “bitters,” which refers to extracts from bitter herbs and spices, are used to boost energy, detoxify the body, and improve digestive health. Bitter herbs are also used to address different conditions like Candida overgrowth, inflammatory conditions (e.g., asthma and eczema), and thyroid problems.
Plant compounds classified as “bitter” include alkaloids, iridoids, lactones, sesquiterpenes, and many volatile oils. The sharp, biting taste of certain bitter herbs indicate that they are full of disease-fighting flavonoids and antioxidants.
While some naturally bitter plants are poisonous, there are a lot of edible bitter greens, herbs, and spices with impressive health benefits. (Related: A natural approach to treating GERD.)
When you consume bitter greens, you can reap their health benefits the moment they contact your tongue. The process begins with the release of gastrin. This hormone stimulates the gallbladder, intestines, liver, pancreas, and stomach into starting the process of digestion.
The bitter tastes also promote the release of saliva that helps break down carbohydrates in the mouth. Additionally, bitter tastes trigger the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The acid breaks down proteins and fats, and it also kills pathogens and microbes that may cause food poisoning.”
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