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By Bill Daley
Bitter foods have been known to fight off colds and battle aging. And Barb Stuckey wants you to give them a try.
Stuckey, a San Francisco-based food developer and author of "Taste What You're Missing: The Passionate Eater's Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good," says the taste of bitter is the taste of health. Of course, you've got to be able to ingest these foods or beverages for them to have any good effect, which can be challenging.
"Most poisons taste bitter," she explained. "So, if we have a choice, we will reject bitter foods. We are built to be suspicious."
But served in the right amount, bitter foods can be both beneficial and even medicinal, Stuckey said, adding that "bitterness is the chemotherapy of taste."
Genetics plays a role in whether a food tastes bitter or too bitter to you. There are steps you can take to mitigate the bitterness, said Stuckey, who is executive vice president of marketing and sales at Mattson, a food and beverage developer in Foster City, Calif.
"When you scrunch up your face at bitterness, it's likely that the bitterness is out of balance," Stuckey writes in her book. Hate Brussels sprouts? Balance the bitter flavor with a little salt, sugar, lemon juice or vinegar. Or mix in other vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots or caramelized onions.
"The next time you make them, use fewer carrots and more sprouts," Stuckey writes. "Eventually, you'll find yourself craving a bowlful of them--alone--specifically for the energizing, stimulating taste challenge that bitter provides."