Bitter Melon with the botanical name Momordica Charantia L is a tropical vine with various medicinal properties. Belonging to the zucchini family, this bitter fruit is widely known as Momordica Charantia and Bitter Gourd.
The plant is also closely related to the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin families. Cultivated around the world, this herb has a prominent place in a wide variety of Asian cuisines for its medicinal properties and health benefits.
The Chinese Bitter Melon, which can grow up to 5m in height and light green in color. Aside from this, the Indian type of Bitter Gourd is coarse, narrow, and has severed spikes. Its bitter taste, sharp appearance, and unique health benefits make it even more interesting.
But all varieties of Bitter Gourd change its color from light green to dark green depending on where it grows, although all varieties have common bumps, such as warts.
People of Asian descent are more aware of the health benefits of Bitter Melon than people in the West. This completely bitter fruit can be boiled in water or fried in oil to reduce its bitterness.
In traditional medicine, it is recommended to drink bitter gourd juice on an empty stomach when you wake up in the morning as it has the ability to control diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.
In addition, this juice has a completely bitter taste, and it’s involved in the process of cleansing the intestines by expelling harmful germs from the intestines. But the bitter truth is that these fruits are largely ignored by most people due to their bitter nature.
This is a testament to the fact that civilized growth and malnutrition lead to a miserable life. Here we look at the various amazing health benefits hidden in Bitter Gourd fruit that is becoming one of the most ignored fruits.
Table of Contents
Chemicals present in bitter melon
Bitter gourd fruits have alkaloids, charantin, charine, cryptoxanthin, cucurbitins, diosgenin, glycosides, lauric acid, saponins, phenolic constituents, fixed oils, etc. Some research says that fruits of Bitter melon are rich sources of many minerals and vitamins.
Common Names of Bitter MelonBotanical Name : Momordica charantia Other Name : bitter melon, bitter apple, bitter gourd, bitter squash, balsam-pear Korean Name : yeoju / 여주 Japanese Name : nigauri /苦瓜 Tamil Name : pāgarkāy or pāvakāy / பாகற்காய் Malayalam Name : pāvaykka / പാവയ്ക്ക, kaippaykka / കൈപ്പയ്ക്ക Telugu Name : kākara / కాకర Kannada Name : hāgalakāyi / ಹಾಗಲಕಾಯಿ Hindi Name : karelā / करेला Urdu Name : karelā / کریلا Gujarati Name : kārelũ / કારેલું Punjabi Name : karelā / ਕਰੇਲਾ Marathi Name : kārlī / कारली Sinhala Name : karavila / කරවිල
Bitter Melon in Ayurveda
This vegetable is famous for its bitter taste. The gourds become more bitter when fully matured. But, the bitter taste of the dried or powdered gourd is a bit delicious with the soft and subtle flavor. You can prepare a bitter gourd tea with this powdered one.
According to Ayurveda, bitter taste gives lots of health benefits. The ability of bitter taste is that it can penetrate into tissue layers (dhatus) such as plasma, blood, fat, nervous, and reproductive tissues. Thus, it will deeply clean the body by removing toxins. Bitter melon will clear heat, dry toxins (ama), purify the blood, improve the digestive fire and ensure a healthy pancreas, liver, and spleen.
The fact is that bitter melon benefits depending on its bitter taste. Bitter melon aids in maintaining a healthy pancreas which further encourages balanced blood glucose levels in the normal, and so it helps to regulate normal blood glucose metabolism. It has a close relation with the blood that provides cleansing, purifying qualities to the circulatory system. Apart from bitter taste, bitter gourd provides a pungent taste also. It also has the ability to purify blood in your body.
Bitter melon is tridoshic which brings balance to all the three doshas. The unique qualities of Bitter gourd are a bitter or pungent taste which does not aggravate vata. Also, with these two tastes, bitter melon helps in eliminating excess Kapha, which is accumulated in the pancreas, urinary tract and thus supports a healthy flow of urine. It also effectively calms down excess pitta from the skin to the liver. The Ayurvedic Properties of bitter gourd are
|Taste (Rasa)||Pungent (Katu), Bitter (Tikta)|
|Quality (Guna)||Light (Laghu), Dry (Ruksha)|
|Potency (Virya)||Hot (Ushna)|
|Quality after digestion (Vipaka)||Pungent (Katu)|
|Effect on Dosha (Dosha Karma)||Pacifies Vata Dosha and Pitta Dosha|
Various Health Benefits That Bitter Gourd Provides
1. Loaded with Important Nutrients
Bitter Gourd is considered to be the best source of vital nutrients that provide energy to the body.
It is loaded with various vitamins such as A, B1, B2, B3, B9, B6, B5, C, E, K, and also contains insoluble dietary fibers, all of which greatly promote clear vision and rich skin health.
These bitter fruits provide folate which supports the growth and metabolism of the body. In addition, the fruits of this herb contain a certain amount of minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, and beta-carotene.
It is also rich in gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, and epicatechin, all of which act as antioxidants that help protect cells from various damages.
These are low in calories and high in fiber, so eating just one cup of bitter gourd in any form meets about 8% of your daily fiber needs.
The nutrients present in a cup (94 grams) of Bitter Gourd are:
- Calories: 20
- Fiber: 2 g
- Carbs: 4 g
- Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 93% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Folate: 17% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
- Zinc: 5% of the RDI
- Bitter Gourd also has an important micronutrient
Bitter Gourd is an invaluable source of nutrients such as folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
2. Has Cancer-Fighting Properties
A test-tube study shows that cancerous tumors and cells that form in the lungs, colon, nasopharynx (the area behind the nose or the back of the throat), and the stomach are destroyed by continuous ingestion of the extract from bitter melon.
Thus, bitter gourd has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. In addition, another proven study found that bitter gourd juice has been used to prevent the growth and spread of cells that cause breast cancer, which occurs naturally in women over 40 years of age.
Researchers state that using the concentrated extract of this bitter gourd on cancer cells isolated in a laboratory can effectively promote their death.
When the bitter gourd is taken as part of the daily diet or as a medicine it greatly inhibits the growth and spread of cancer and gives rejuvenation and strength to the body.
Also Read: Herbs to Treat Cancer
Bitter Gourd juice has anti-cancer properties, thus it has the ability to fight against the cancer cells in the lungs, colon, nasopharynx, stomach, and breast.
3. Boosts the Immune System
This bitter gourd effectively fights against various pathogenic bacteria and viruses. These fruits help in strengthening the body’s immune system by preventing bacteria and viruses from entering the body.
They are also used to treat allergies and indigestion caused by different foods. Antioxidants act as a shield to the body and provide powerful protective mechanisms to fight infections.
They greatly aid in the healing of free-radical damage caused by infections in the body and in preventing the growth of cancerous tumors.
A study published in the Journal of Drug Research (2010) demonstrated that bitter melon has anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.
Also Read: Herbs to Boost Immune System
Mainly bitter gourd fruit juice dramatically prevents cancers of the breast, cervix, and prostate.
4. For Lustrous Hair & Glowing Skin
Bitter gourd extract is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and other powerful antioxidants that can be used to treat wrinkles, premature aging, eczema, and dermatitis. People with psoriasis are advised to take bitter gourd juice regularly as it has the power to reduce the white and red patches on the surface of the skin.
And now these fruits are widely used to treat acne which is common in all genders. People who work on the computer and spend a lot of time outdoors may get skin rashes due to UV rays. Bitter gourd helps to protect the skin from such harm and keeps it hydrated at all times.
Also Read: Best Herbs for Skin
They contain zinc, biotin, vitamin A and vitamin C which give luster and radiance to the skin. They are used not only for skin but also for all hair related problems like coarse hair, split ends, graying, dandruff, and dull hair.
Itching is also prevented by applying its extract on the scalp. Hair loss can be controlled by applying the mixture of a little yogurt with bitter gourd juice.
On the other hand, mix the bitter melon juice, a tablespoon of lime juice, and finely ground cumin seed paste and apply on the head and soak for 30 minutes. Dandruff can be removed by rinsing the head after 30 minutes.
Also Read: Herbs for Hair Growth and Thickness
The juice extract from the Bitter Gourd fruit can also act as an excellent blood purifier.
5. Diminishes Bad Cholesterol Level
Cholesterol plaque can build up in the arteries when eating unhealthy or fatty foods. Thus the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure over time.
Bitter gourd juices help to eliminate bad “LDL” cholesterol from the body, and they support the overall animal health, according to animal studies.
In a study of overweight and high-fat rats, they were divided into two groups and the first group given bitter gourd juice and another group of placebo for 3 consecutive months.
Consequently, the rats which ingested the bitter juice had significantly lower levels of bad “LDL” cholesterol and triglycerides than rats that intake placebo, and that good “HDL” cholesterol increased.
Consuming large amounts of bitter juice regularly can have tremendous good effects on the body.
Since these fruits belong to the zucchini family, various studies are being conducted to determine whether all of the above effects occur when consuming bitter zucchini.
Also Read: Herbs To Lower Cholesterol
Studies in animals have shown that bitter melon juice lowers bad LDL cholesterol levels, which in turn promotes a healthy heart function. But there is very rare human research to confirm these.
6. Aids in Weight Loss Process
Bitter melon is low in calories and high in fiber and is recommended as a diet suitable for people who are more interested in weight loss processes. One cup (94-gram) of bitter gourd contains about 2 grams of fiber, which helps prevent the accumulation of unwanted fat in the body.
Furthermore, this fiber facilitates the digestive processes and gives the body the energy it needs, thus reducing appetite and giving a feeling of fullness.
So consuming bitter melon boiled or extracted helps in increasing the fiber content of the body and dissolving the fat which is gaining weight.
In a study of overweight individuals, they were given a dose of 4.8 grams of bitter melon juice each morning. At the end of the study, participants’ belly fat and body fat were found to be severely reduced.
In addition, participants in another study, which lasted exactly seven weeks, had an average waist circumference of fewer than 0.5 inches. In a study of rats, they were divided into two groups, and then the first group was given a placebo and the next group was given bitter juice.
In the end, the rats ingested the bitter juice and lost a lot of weight. Various studies have also been conducted using supplements instead of raw bitter melon juice. Consuming these fruits as part of a regular diet can enhance health.
Also Read: Herbs for Weight Loss
Numerous studies conducted in humans and animals have found that bitter gourd helps reduce body weight and belly fat.
7. Helps in Cleansing the Liver
Drinking alcohol at night can cause a hangover sensation the next morning, a condition that limits the body’s activity and can lead to frustration later in the day.
In such cases, it is recommended to drink bitter juice to give strength and energy to the body. Also, this juice helps to remove the traces of drugs like alcohol that stay in the liver and excrete them with the urine.
These act as blood and intestinal cleansing agents to help keep the whole body strong.
The extract of Momordica Charantia helps to strengthen the antioxidant functions of enzymes in the liver, thus preventing adverse effects such as liver failure. It also supports the function of the bladder.
Also Read: Simple Ways to Detox Your Liver
A study published in the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition has shown that Bitter Gourd juice inhibits the processes of liver failure.
8. Aids Maintaining Blood Sugar Level
Bitter gourd has been used around the world since ancient times to treat diabetes and to control blood sugar levels. Recently, a study was conducted with 24 elderly diabetics, which lasted about three months.
Each day they were given about 2,000 mg of the extract derived from the bitter gourd. At the end of the study, Hemoglobin A1C and blood sugar were demonstrated to be significantly lower in all 24 participants.
In another study, 40 elderly people with diabetes were given 2,000 mg of bitter juice continuously for just 4 weeks.
Examining them on the 29th day confirmed that their blood sugar and Fructosamine levels (another indication of long-term blood sugar control) were significantly lower.
Bitter gourd regulates blood sugar levels and greatly stimulates the secretion of insulin for hormones, in addition, it is used to improve the quality of sugar in the tissues.
Also Read: Herbs for Diabetes
Bitter Melon has the ability to promote an indication of long-term blood sugar control markers such as Hemoglobin A1C and Fructosamine and more.
9. Cures Eye-Related Problems
Most doctors recommend consuming bitter gourd as it contains the most important compounds such as vitamin A and beta carotene which are essential for the health of the eyes.
It is also used to treat problems such as cataracts, blurred vision, and red eyes and to strengthen eyesight. These bitter gourd fruits have been used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times to treat dark circles under the eyes.
To solve eye problems, you can take bitter melon juice twice a week or add it to your diet once in two days. Excessive intake of bitter juice can also be used to treat abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, and muscle cramps.
Most importantly, pregnant women should avoid consuming this fruit extract as it can stimulate the uterus and lead to miscarriage.
Also Read: Herbs For Eye
Nutritionists recommend an average daily intake of about 30 ml of bitter juice for children and the elderly.
10. Delicious and Versatile
Although bitter melons only have a completely bitter taste, it is important to eat or drink them as they contain a variety of medicinal benefits. Some people have a habit of eating bitter melon even when it is raw, and many people use it to cook well.
In fact, these fruits can be fried, steamed, baked, or even eaten plain without any fillings.
A lot of dishes can be prepared with this fruit with a sharp taste, the thing that is common to all recipes is to wash the fruit well, cut it lengthwise into a cross-section and remove the seeds from the center.
After that, the recipes will vary depending on the meal we are going to make. There are some interesting ways to include these fruits in the diet, including:
- Combine bitter melons with some other vegetables and fruits and grind well in a blender to make a nutritious drink.
- Add bitter melon, onion, garlic, and tomato and stir fry well then consume it with the hot sauce.
- Seedless baby bitter gourd can be eaten with delicious vegetable salads.
- You can add this bitter gourd to dishes made with meat and vegetables and add a little black bean sauce to it.
How to Prepare a Simple Bitter Gourd Recipe
Bitter Gourd Salad
- Bitter Gourd – ½ kg
- Onions (Medium-Sized) – 2 (chopped)
- Green Chilies – 2 to 3
- Garlic – 5 to 6 (crushed)
- Mustard Seeds – ½ teaspoon
- Turmeric Powder – ½ teaspoon
- Asafetida – ¼ teaspoon
- Salt & Water – Required amount
Procedure : Remove all the seeds from the bitter gourd first and then chop the fruit with a knife. Add the chopped bitter gourd, splitted chilies, chopped onion, turmeric powder, crushed garlic, and the required amount of salt and water and let this mixture boil for 8 to 10 minutes. After cooking the vegetables, remove them from the oven and drain the water after cooling (you can drink this water as it is rich in vitamins). Then put the pan in the oven and pour a little oil and when the oil is hot add the mustard and stir. Then add the boiled ingredients and asafoetida and fry as per your requirement. Finally, remove the pan from the oven, which can be added to both lunch and dinner.
Nutritional Value of Bitter Gourd
100 g of Bitter Gourd is rich in the various nutrients and you can see their classification in the following list
- Calcium – 19 mg
- Copper – 0.034 mg
- Dietary Fiber – 3 g
- Folate – 72 mcg
- Food Folate – 5.6 mcg
- Dietary Folate Equivalents – 72 mcg
- Iron – 0.43 mg
- Magnesium – 17 mg
- Phosphorus – 31 mg
- Potassium – 296 mg
- Vitamin C – 84 mg
- Manganese – 0.089 mg
- Protein – 1 g
- Selenium – 0.2 mcg
- Sodium – 5 mg
- Zinc – 0.8 mg
- Vitamin A – 471 IU
- Total Carbohydrates – 4 g
- Total Fat – 0 g
- Saturated Fat – 0 g
- Cholesterol – 0 mg
- Folic Acid – 0 mg
- Sugars – 0 g
- Pantothenic Acid – 0.212 mcg
Why Bitter Gourd (or) Bitter Melon is Special
Bitter melon is a fruit from the family Cucurbitaceae family, and it has a unique rough appearance and flavor. It has several components which help in maintaining blood glucose level and cholesterol levels. But, people who are pregnant or taking medications, particularly blood sugar medications, should consult your advisor.
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