Cocoa, broccoli, kale, dandelion greens and black coffee are bitter foods. Grapefruit, mustard greens, olives, some types of citrus fruits and bitter melon are also bitter foods.
Green leafy, bitter vegetables such as dandelion greens and kale are very nutritious and promote good health. Dandelion greens support liver function, and kale helps to detoxify the body. Rapini, an Italian vegetable, possesses characteristics of both leafy greens and broccoli and is also bitter, although less so than dandelion greens. Several types of vegetables become increasingly bitter as the plant develops, so tender young plants may be preferred by some people's palates.
Cocoa is a bitter food that combines well with food flavors that are spicy and sweet. Combining cream and sugar with cocoa masks cocoa's bitterness. Some people prefer to mask the bitterness of black coffee, although many prefer its strong flavor. The degree of bitterness of black coffee depends upon how the coffee beans are roasted. Orange marmalade and desserts that contain citrus peels also contain both sweet and bitter flavors.
Bitterness is an element of many popular foods and beverages such as chocolate, beer, mate tea and tonic water. However, many bitter substances are less enjoyable when eaten on their own, rather than pairing them with other flavors. Therefore, bitter foods commonly complement dishes and add flavor to increase the complexity of their tastes.