- Bitter or Sweet

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Bitter or Sweet

Bitter or Sweet?

Food manufacturers and supermarkets are obviously interested in maximising their profits and one of the ways they can do this is to make bitter flavoured foods sweeter.

So you may have noticed that whereas at one time we only had white grapefruit nowadays the grapefruits tend to be redder and sweeter.  Child friendly Brussels sprouts that have a less bitter flavour have also appeared.

Human beings have always manipulated the flavour and look of plants by selective crossing and propagating the ones that they like.   However there is a danger in eradicating or reducing bitterness because the chemicals that create it tend to be the therapeutic ones.  These are generally known as phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients that cause the bitter taste are what makes broccoli, dark chocolate, green tea and red wine so healthy to consume.

 Unfortunately for our health, food producers are either removing some of the bitter chemicals or developing sweeter varieties by selecting and propagating for the characteristics they want.  Genetic manipulation can also now be used.

We have evolved to like sweet foods because they contain the energy that we need to survive until we have had children.  However, we are now living well past our reproductive age and need to protect ourselves from a whole range of diseases that become more common as we age.  Hence the need for foods that contain those phytonutrients.

We can condition our tastes.  I was brought up having a lot of sugar in tea and coffee.  Giving up the sugar was hard at first but after a while, if I tasted tea or coffee with sugar in it I no longer enjoyed it. 

As well as the green tea, dark chocolate, red wine  and broccoli we can add ginger, turmeric, and all the cruciferous vegetables - Brussels sprouts, watercress, kale  cabbage, Pok Choi, cauliflower. The anti-cancer effects of all of these foods are covered on our website at

www.gentleapproach.org.uk .  Just click on Newsletter articles at the top right hand side of the Home Page..

Colin Sutherland

Ref: New Scientist 1st Aug 2015.

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