Bitter Gourd (Karela) is also known as Balsam Pear or Bitter Melon. It is also called Momordica charantia and is a climbing shrub that grows in tropical climate. It belongs to the same plant family as cucumbers, pumpkin and squash. It is despised for its bitter taste but is considered one of the best foods to be consumed because of its various health benefits. Bitter Gourd is not a vegetable but a fruit as the part of the plant that is used for consumption and for medicinal purpose.
Bitter Gourd is packed with nutrients ranging from iron, magnesium, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin c and potassium. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It is a good source of Omega 6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, and Oleic acid. Bitter gourd is very beneficial in managing disorders like diabetes and asthma.
The leaves and Bitter Gourd itself can be consumed for health benefits. It can be either cooked as a dish, baked, boiled, fried or consumed as raw juice. It can be either made into a smoothie along with apples and spinach or be cooked as soup. It is also available in form of baked chips, pickles and chutneys. There are numerous reasons why one should start eating Bitter Gourd.
Some of the most important reasons are listed below:
- Bitter gourd is a natural agent for treating obesity. The fruit is low in calories, fats and carbohydrates. 100 grams of Bitter Gourd contains just 20 calories. It has the ability to keep one fuller for a longer period of time. The pods of Bitter gourd contain 80% water. Bitter melon contains antioxidants that improve metabolism and flush out toxins from the body. Regular consumption of Bitter Gourd helps in relieving constipation and indigestion. Thus, it is very useful in losing weight.
- The anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties of bitter gourd help it to clear toxins from the body, purify it and improve blood circulation throughout the body. Bitter Gourd juice should be consumed in the morning on an empty stomach to detox the body. It helps with controlling blood clotting too, thus helping the wounds to heal faster.
- Bitter Gourd is used to treat acne, rashes, psoriasis, toxemia, blood boils and itching in any part of the body. It is rich in folate and is very useful for menstruating women and pregnant women to prevent anemia and maintain blood iron levels. Bitter Gourd is known to reduce neural tube defects in developing baby if consumed at the time of pregnancy.
Treats Respiratory disorders:
- Bitter Gourd is a simple home remedy to relief cough, cold, improve breathing and clear up the sputum. The pods of Bitter Gourd is used to treat asthma.
- Bitter gourd contains polypeptide-p (p insulin), alkaloids and charatin which help in reducing blood sugar levels naturally for Type 2 diabetic patients. Consuming bitter gourd, helps in regulating metabolism, thus prevents unpredictable spikes and drops in insulin levels.
- Bitter gourd increases the absorption of glucose by the liver, fats and muscle tissue thus helps in reducing blood sugar levels and reduces demand on pancreas for insulin.
- Bitter gourd acts as a hypoglycemic agent. Consuming bitter gourd juice increases the uptake of glucose and improves the glycemic control. Bitter Gourd activates the kinases protein that helps in absorption of sugar, thus aids in bringing diabetes under control.
- Plant based insulin in bitter gourd also helps patients with type 1 diabetes. A glass of bitter gourd juice, daily (50 ml) is the most successful home remedy for diabetes.
Cleanses the liver:
- A glass of bitter gourd juice daily acts as liver tonic and heal all kinds of liver problems. The juice cleanses the bowel and prevents liver failure by strengthening the anti-oxidant activity of the liver enzymes. It is very helpful in improving liver and kidney functions. It repairs liver and increases its capacity to clean blood.
Improves Eye sight:
- Bitter Gourd is a good source of Lutein and Zeaxanthin and Vitamin A. It helps in preventing cataract development and progression.
- Vitamin A also plays an important role in cell communication and aids in new cell growth and development.
- Consuming Bitter gourd (raw, cooked or in juice form) helps in maintaining better vision by supporting retinal function and nourishing the corneas and conjunctival membranes.
- Bitter Gourd is also a great home remedy to treat dark circles. It helps in preventing all vision related problems and strengthens the eye sight over time.
Boosts Skin and Hair Health:
- The regular consumption of Bitter Gourd protects the skin from blemishes and acne. The vitamin C content in Bitter gourd makes it a power anti-oxidant that fights harmful free radicals and prevents wrinkles. This fruit contains anti-ageing properties as it keeps the tissues strong by facilitating collagen production thus it slows down the aging process naturally. It also protects the skin from Ultra Violet rays damage. Consuming Bitter Gourd helps to get rid of deep skin infections.
How to Use
- Applying Bitter gourd juice to the scalp decreases hair loss and graying of the hair. It treats dandruff, scalp itchiness, split ends and rough hair. The juice may be applied directly to the scalp or mixed with some curd. Biotin, Zinc and Vitamin A and C help in imparting shine and luster to the hair.
Other Benefits of Bitter Gourd
- Bitter Gourd has proved to be beneficial for HIV/AIDS patients as they contain phytochemicals which improve immunity and reduce the overall infection and inflammation in the patient. It also helps in lowering cholesterol levels, thus reducing risk of heart problems.
- Bitter Gourd is a rich source of Vitamin C that protects our cells from free radicals involved in cancer development. It boosts immunity and helps in iron absorption in the body. It also improves stamina and energy levels of the individual and aids sound sleep.
- To make Bitter Gourd less bitter one can sauté it in olive oil or sprinkle some salt over the cut bitter gourd pieces and let it sit for few minutes. Soaking Bitter Gourd in Tamarind juice also helps in taking away the bitterness.