How To Include Bitter Foods In Your Diet

Ayurveda recommends that you include all six tastes in your diet: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. You’re probably well versed in the sweet and salty tastes. The others may pose a challenge. So how can you include bitter foods in your diet? Let’s take a look.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article.

Tastes And Your Body Type
10 Common Bitter Foods

The Importance Of Bitter Foods
How To Include Bitter Foods In Your Diet

According to Ayurveda, the bitter taste helps in pacifying Kapha dosha. Kapha dosha tends to become aggravated in the season of spring. Bitter foods, in particular, are ideal for a spring cleanse.

Tastes And Your Body Type

The balancing tastes for each Ayurvedic body type are as follows.

Don’t know your Ayurvedic Body Type or Prakriti? Click HERE to take the FREE Quiz >>

Vata Body Type (thin build): sweet, sour and salty
Pitta Body Type (medium build): sweet, bitter and pungent
Kapha Body Type (generous build): bitter, pungent and astringent.

Until early spring, it’s Kapha predominant season and later in the year when summer arrives, the season is Pitta predominant. Bitter pacifies both Kapha and Pitta dosha. So remember to include bitter foods in your diet during spring and into summer.

READ MORE: Kapha Diet: Everything You Need To Know, Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know, Vata Diet: Everything You Need To Know

10 Common Bitter Foods

  1. Bitter Gourd
  2. Bitter Melon
  3. Japanese Eggplant
  4. Fenugreek Leaves
  5. Turmeric
  6. Aloe Vera
  7. Greens… Kale, Lettuce, Chard, Dandelion, Raddichio, Arugula…
  8. Basil
  9. Neem
  10. Barley

The Importance Of Bitter Foods

Generally speaking, the bitter taste boosts metabolism and acts in cleansing the whole body. Foods with a bitter taste have an airy and light nature. Internally the bitter taste helps to balance Pitta and Kapha dosha. In excess, it can aggravate Vata and dehydrate the body.

READ MORE: Dehydration: 5 Replenishing Beverages + Ayurvedic Summer Health Tips

How To Include Bitter Foods In Your Diet

If bitter isn’t your cup of tea, try incorporating small amounts into your meals. Greens are a great place to start. You can also opt for foods with a subtle bitterness like fenugreek leaves and seeds. Additionally, try out the following tips.

1. Barley Water

Try drinking water boiled with whole barley seeds. This beverage is super healthy and cooling in the warmer months of the year. It’s loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It helps to flush out toxins from body.

2. Aloe Vera Juice

Those with a Pitta imbalance can have a cup of aloe vera juice daily. It is good for digestion and elimination. Aloe vera cleanses, cools and refreshes the system.

READ MORE: 8 Benefits And Uses Of Aloe Vera (Kumari) + How To Prepare Fresh Aloe Gel

3. Bitter Spices

Add spices like turmeric and fenugreek to your diet.

Turmeric is a blood purifier and antioxidant. There are many simple ways to add turmeric to your diet. Turmeric milk (Golden Milk) at bedtime is an ideal choice. Yellow curry powder contains turmeric and is a delicious spice blend you can add to virtually any home cooked meal, from chicken salads to vegetable soups and scrambled eggs. Turmeric alone can also be mixed into mashed potatoes, breakfast porridge and smoothies.

One teaspoon of fenugreek seeds provides a bitter taste. To use fenugreek seeds, soak them in water overnight. The next day, blend them together with a tablespoon of rice powder and jaggery. This can be take with ghee or honey in the morning.

Alternatively you can add one teaspoon of soaked fenugreek seeds to rice and prepare a hot rice cereal, similar to oatmeal.

READ MORE: How Golden Milk Benefits Memory, Golden Milk For Arthritis Recipe (Turmeric Milk For Arthritis)Turmeric Benefits (Curcumin), Dosage, Side Effects + More

4. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are both nourishing and detoxifying. Greens are best suited when cooked with spices that suit your Dosha. They are good for your skin and hair. They are also low in calories and excellent sources of vitamins A, C and K. They are a good source of iron and rich in antioxidants.

Simple Green Sauté Recipe

3 cups bitter greens (kale, chard, dandelion)
1 Tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
salt, to taste

Rinse bitter greens in water to remove any debris. Add the ghee in a sauce pan and roast the cumin seeds. Now add the turmeric powder, black pepper powder, salt and the rinsed greens. Sauté well and enjoy as a sautéed salad.

READ MORE: Anti-Inflammatory Swiss Chard

5. Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd is low in calories and ideal for weight loss. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamin A, C and fiber. It has anti-diabetic properties as well.

If you like the intense bitter flavor of bitter gourd, you will love this south Indian pickle recipe. Take one teaspoon with lunch and dinner.

Bitter Gourd Pickle Recipe

To make Bitter Gourd Pickle, scrape off the rough surface of the bitter gourd. Slice it length-wise and rub it all over with salt. Set it aside like this for 3-4 hours. Later, squeeze the gourd and discard the juice. Remember to scoop out the seeds.

1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ajwain powder
1 tsp roasted fenugreek powder
1/2 lemon

Now add one teaspoon of turmeric powder,one teaspoon of ginger powder, one teaspoon of chili powder, one teaspoon of ajwain powder, one teaspoon of roasted fenugreek powder and marinate well with the juice of half a lemon.

Now, place the bitter gourd pieces in a clean jar and fill with lemon juice. Set in the sun for 3-4 days. You may begin using it after one week.

Don’t know your Ayurvedic Body Type or Prakriti? Click HERE to take the FREE Quiz >>

READ MORE: When To Eat: The Best Time To Eat Different FoodsTriphala For Weight Loss, Easy 4-Step Ayurvedic Weight Loss Plan + Home Remedies For Over Weight




Arya Krishna is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, educator, and speaker. She completed her Bachelors in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Amrita School of Ayurveda, Kerala, India. She is registered as an Ayurveda doctor (Reg No: 14664) under the Indian Medical Council. She received a Fellowship in Orthopedic Rehabilitation from Apollo group of Institutions, Hyderabad. An editor with the International Ayurvedic Medical Journal, she previously served as the associate editor of the American Ayurvedic Journal of Health. Before moving to the US in 2015, she was Resident Medical Officer (Ayurveda) in AyurVAID hospital, Bangalore and has knowledge and experience in precision and evidence-based Ayurveda. She was an Ayurveda Domain expert with Health Connect 24 – a unique platform to bring together Ayurveda, Yoga and swadeshi. She is efficient in performing all Panchakarma procedures (purification therapies) and has knowledge of Marma Therapy. Other areas of expertise include Ayurveda diet and lifestyle, women’s health, and rasayana (rejuvenation). She works for the promotion and propagation of Ayurveda by offering lectures, webinars and contributing to various journals. She is a resource person for the Council of Ayurveda Research (CAR) and is an Ayurvedic blogger with Mother Earth Living. Currently, she is residing in Danville, Pennsylvania and is listed as a BAMS doctor with AAPNA (Association of Ayurveda Practitioners of North America). She is an Ayurveda Consultant and Educational coordinator with Be Mind Body Skin, New Jersey and Subject Matter Expert at At Home with Ayurveda, UK.


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