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5 main health benefits of BITTER GOURD

802 509 Kristina Babic

Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), also known as bitter melon, is a tropical and subtropical vine of the Cucurbitaceae family. It widely grows in Asia, Africa and South America. For centuries bitter gourd is used as food and medicine. Rich in vitamins and minerals, bitter gourd is also known as a vegetable that is most bitter of all fruits and vegetables.

Bitter gourd has essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as vitamin B9 (folate).

This miracle vegetable is literary medicine on its own.

Bitter gourd in Ayurveda

ccording to Ayurveda, bitter gourd is one of the essential ingredients that support liver, balance blood sugar and stimulate digestion. Its bitter taste penetrates most of the tissue layers (plasma, blood, fat, nervous, and reproductive) and is deeply cleansing the body from toxins. It works as a blood cleanser, dries out ama (toxins that build up in the body due to an improper diet), calmed down heat, tones digestion, pancreas, liver and spleen.

Effect on dosha: Bitter gourd pacifies aggravated Kapha and Pitta dosha, and at the same time, it doesn’t increase Vata dosha.

5 benefits of bitter gourd:

1. Improves immunity

Rich in essential nutrients, bitter gourd helps in boosting immunity. It is rich in vitamin C, an essential micronutrient that stimulates the immune system. This miracle vegetable contains ingredients that play a significant role in preventing disease, bone-forming, and wound healing. Along with other nutrients, bitter gourd provides folate, which is essential for growth and development.

2. Acts as a blood purifier

Bitter gourd has antimicrobial properties that kill or inhibit the growth of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Therefore, it acts as an excellent blood purifier and as an agent that helps in removing toxins from the body. It improves blood circulation and liver function, hence cure issues like rashes, acne, psoriasis and blood boils

3. Great for diabetes and lowering blood sugar

Bitter gourd contains three active substances that help in reducing blood sugar: charantin (which is confirmed to lower blood glucose), vicine and an insulin-like compound called polypeptide-p. Bitter gourd has been proven to promote the secretion of insulin and helps in insulin sensitivity.

For more information regarding studies done on the effect of bitter gourd on blood sugar, you can read here:

  1. MURALI KRISHNA YELCHURI, BALA (22 January 2012).India-Tanzania-Thailand Scientists to Study ‘Bitter Gourd’ for anti-diabetes.”
  2. Li, C. C.; Hsiang, C. Y. (2013)Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) Reduces Adiposity, Lowers Serum Insulin and Normalizes Glucose Tolerance in Rats Fed a High Fat Diet1.
  3. Bachok, M. F.; Yusof, B. N.; Ismail, A; Hamid, A. A. (2014).Effectiveness of traditional Malaysian vegetables in modulating blood glucose levels.

4. Helps in weight loss

By eating or drinking bitter gourd, you are stimulating enzymes in liver and secretion of bile that is essential for fat metabolism. The bitter gourd juice also cleanses the bowels and helps in bowel movement. Therefore, it helps in maintaining the good health of the digestion system and promote weight loss.

In one study found that consuming extract of bitter gourd daily can reduce belly fat.

5. Fight cancer

The research found that bitter gourd has a specific compound containing cancer-fighting properties. One study showed that bitter gourd extract is effective at killing cancer cells of the stomach, colon, lung etc.

How to use bitter gourd

You can use leaves and gourds in lots of different forms – juice, raw, in curries, in soups, cooked alone or mixed with other vegetables. In Japan and other Asian cultures, consuming powdered dried bitter gourd made into a tea is a popular health drink. You can make tea by merely adding bitter gourd powder into hot water.

You can use bitter gourd in combination with other herbs. For example, bitter gourd in a mix with Shardunika (Gymnema Sylvestre), Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), and Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) can help with regulating blood glucose level. Bitter gourd in combination with Shardunika, Neem (Azadirachta indica), and Turmeric (Curcuma longa) supports the healthy pancreas. If you want to reduce acidity and excess heat, you can mix bitter gourd with Amla (Phyllanthus Emblica).

Although you can consume bitter gourd in any form, by drinking fresh bitter gourd juice, you will get the best out of its benefits.

Here is the recipe on how to make juice and enhance it with simple ingredients to make it even more tasty and healthy.

BITTER GOURD JUICE
(for one glass of juice)

3 inches of fresh bitter gourd
½ lime (or ¼ of big lemon)
1 inch of freshly chopped ginger

How to make:
Rinse all ingredients under running water. Chop bitter gourd in half and remove seeds. Remove skin from ginger. Put bitter gourd, ginger and half lime (with skin) in a blender and add a little bit of fresh water. Blend it nicely. Strain it into a glass and add water per taste.

How to make bitter gourd less bitter

Bitter gourd is one of the bitterest vegetables of all. Therefore, if you are using it in your dish, you will need to add some of the ingredients to ease its bitter taste.

To make bitter gourd less bitter you can do following:

  • Once you cut bitter gourd, you can sprinkle salt over it and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Soak it in tamarind juice for 10 minutes.
  • Boil equal parts jaggery and vinegar and pour this mixture on bitter gourd. Let it soak for some time.

 

Note!

This plant is harmless to the human body under normal conditions, although in larger quantity it can have some side-effects. Do not consume bitter gourd in pregnancy. It can induce bleeding, contractions, and miscarriage.
Do not consume more than 100 ml of undiluted juice daily.

Conclusion

Bitter gourd is a vegetable with a unique appearance and taste. It’s rich in essential nutrients and has a significant impact on many bodily functions. Whether you want to balance blood sugar, lose weight or keep a good health; bitter gourd is a fantastic vegetable that will clean your digestive tract and help you stay active and healthy.

 

by Kristina Babic
under the guidance of Shri Na Shiva

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