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Is Bitter Better? How Bitter Foods Help Your Skin

By: Dr. Wang Skincare Education Team

Oct 14, 2019

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Is Bitter Better? How Bitter Foods Help Your Skin

The term “bitter” often has negative connotations. Whether it be someone’s mood or the flavor of food, people typically don’t want to be associated with anything that is “bitter.” 

But it turns out bitter foods are immensely beneficial to our skin and bodies. Bitter foods are able to stimulate digestive enzyme production and bile flow, which aids in the digestive process, and has a visible impact on your skin. They also help to support liver detox and reduce cravings.

Still not on board the bitter bandwagon? Here is why bitter foods are better:

What Bitter Food Does for the Skin

Did you know that as we age our skin develops more bitter receptors to counterbalance the thinning outer layer of skin? According to Healthy Hildegard, “This increase of bitter substance receptors in the skin allows for the efficient use of bitter properties contained in food. When you ingest bitter food it helps to stimulate the production of lipids and protective proteins in the skin. The combination of bitters with bitter receptors found on the skin leads to greater surface metabolism and a strengthened skin barrier. The skin continues a healthy regenerating process, resulting in natural anti-aging effects.”

Beautiful skin starts from within, so if you’re looking to really up your anti-aging regimen start adding some bitter foods into your diet. Our personal favorite is dark chocolate! 

Examples of Bitter Foods

Ready to add more bitter food to your diet? Here is what we recommend: 

Dandelion Greens: Even though many see them as a pain, dandelions are more than just weeds! But actually their leaves are edible and nutritious. You can enjoy them raw (as an addition to your salad), sauteed or toss them into soups and pasta. They are known for being very bitter so if the flavor is too much, try to balance it out with garlic or lemon. According to research they are rich in many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, manganese, iron and vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain the carotenoids that protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration (lutein and zeaxanthin). Dandelion greens are also loaded with prebiotics inulin and oligofructose, which help to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria

Bitter Melon: This green, bumpy, cucumber-shaped melon is popular in Asian, African and Caribbean countries. It is known for its extremely bitter taste. It is loaded with phytochemicals like triterpenoids, polyphenols, and flavonoids that have been shown to slow the growth of various types of cancers in both test-tube and animal studies. Another study found that consuming 2,000 mg of dried, powdered bitter melon every day significantly lowered blood sugar levels in people with diabetes (but it is NOT a replacement for medication.)


Green Tea: Even though it’s not typically seen as a “bitter food,” green tea does fall into the bitter category thanks to its catechin and polyphenol contents. The most recognized of these catechins is epigallocatechin gallate, otherwise known as EGCG. Test-tube, as well as animal studies, have demonstrated that EGCG has the ability to slow the growth of cancer cells.

And other studies that have been conducted with people demonstrate that those who drink green tea regularly have a lower risk of developing certain cancers. According to Healthline; “Green tea also contains a variety of polyphenols that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Together, these compounds reduce damage from free radicals and decrease inflammation, which may reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact, drinking just one cup of green tea daily is associated with a nearly 20% lower risk of a heart attack.” 

Coffee: Rejoice coffee lovers! The most widely consumed beverage around the world is also packed with benefits (other than getting us up and ready to go in the morning.) “One of the most abundant polyphenols in coffee is chlorogenic acid, a strong antioxidant likely responsible for many of coffee’s health benefits, including reduced oxidative damage and a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.”


We aren’t going to lie, bitterness can be a very strong taste for some as it is not one that we encounter very often in our daily diets. If you are struggling with it, try pairing bitter foods with something naturally sweet and tangy! And just remember all the benefits it provides your skin and body.

Steven Wang, MD and Gui Wang, LAc have been working together for over 20 years to provide potent, herbal remedies for spas and individuals around the world. The father-son duo mixes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with cutting edge scientific advances with the aim of bringing relief, comfort, and happiness to our customers. Our products are the result of decades of dedicated research.

We believe that utilizing both modern Western medicine and time-honored Eastern medicine allows us to provide unique skincare solutions. To learn more, read what experts from The New York Times, Allure, Reader’s Digest, and more have to say about our revolutionary products.



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