Bitter herbs embody an array of uniquely flavored plants. These include horseradish, parsley, coriander, mugwort, chamomile, mint, horehound, endive, and many others that might surprise you. Vitamin A-packed Romaine lettuce, for example, is considered a bitter herb because of its aftertaste and its ability to become quite bitter the longer it is left in the Earth.

Many people around the world associate the biblical meaning of the term “bitter herbs” with The Passover Seder, a Jewish feast to mark the beginning of Passover.  In fact, the Bible references that these herbs (maror) should be eaten with the Passover lamb and other customary foods. These herbs include romaine lettuce and endives, among many others.

Benefits of Bitter Herbs

In addition to religious symbolism, another reason to add bitter herbs to your plate would be for the health benefits.  Many of these herbs, such as mint, mugwort, and horehound, may aid in digestion and relieve gastrointestinal issues. Studies show that the bitter flavor in plants, herbs, and extracts can actually stimulate our brains to release digestive hormones.  

Several minerals in certain species of bitter herbs provide trace amounts of Vitamins A and C. These types of herbs are nearly calorie-free, including the incredibly popular horseradish root, which is often prepared as a flavorful condiment. Grocery and health food stores often carry a selection of many bitter herbs for cooking and herbal teas for drinking. Additionally, you can enhance the medicinal properties and antioxidants in bitter herbs by steeping them longer. However, be prepared for the bitter blast to your taste buds.  

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