Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or balsam pear, is commonly grown in tropical areas and is consumed both as a fruit and as a vegetable. In many cultures, bitter melon is also an accepted form of medicine due to its incomparable health benefits.
The pods of bitter melon can be light to dark green in color and have oblong or oval shapes with a pointed tip at the blossom end. The inner flesh is white with rough-edged seeds. The seeds turn red when ripe.
Despite its nutritional perks, this gift of nature often gets a bad rep due to its bitter taste. Notorious for being the bitterest of all edible vegetables, bitter melon can send you running in the opposite direction if you consider it only for its taste. However, a quick rundown of its nutritional merits will have you come crawling back.
Enriched with protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, and several B vitamins, bitter melon is a holy grail for many of your health issues.
This is amplified by the fact that it is high in dietary fiber and low in calories. This fruit also contains linolenic acid (an essential omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (an unsaturated fat).
Nutritional value of bitter gourd per 100 grams:
|Fiber, total dietary||g||2.8|
Bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take medications to lower your blood sugar, adding bitter melon might make your blood sugar drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.
To prepare bitter melon juice, follows these steps:
Here are some benefits that you can get from bitter melon.
Bitter melon has been found useful in managing diabetes due to its blood glucose-lowering effect; however, it is not considered an approved treatment on its own.
Bitter melon contains various substances that exhibit antidiabetic properties, including charantin, vicine, and polypeptide-p. Polypeptide-p mimics the function of insulin in diabetic patients by reducing blood sugar naturally. Charantin, on the other hand, facilitates glycogen synthesis within liver and muscle cells.
Furthermore, bitter melon is doubly effective in increasing pancreatic insulin secretion as well as preventing insulin resistance, making it beneficial for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, a 2,000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced the blood glucose levels among people with type 2 diabetes. However, the hypoglycemic effect was comparatively less than that of a 1,000 mg/day dose of metformin, an approved medication for type 2 diabetes.
Bitter melon works effectively as a natural blood purifier. Problems such as constant headaches, allergies, fatigue, and weak immunity, which are often rooted in the presence of toxins in the blood, are prevented and eliminated as a result.
The antifungal and antibacterial properties of bitter melon promote healthy and glowing skin. It helps treat skin ailments, such as blood boils and itching due to toxemia, acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Additionally, the vitamin C-laden bitter melon prevents the formation of wrinkles and deters skin aging.
Bitter melon juice has liver-protecting properties, making it an elixir for your liver health. It promotes the filtering functions of your liver, which helps rid the blood of impurities, and aids in eliminating harmful toxins in the body.
A properly functioning liver, in turn, reduces the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, jaundice, and other health issues.
Bitter gourd is a magic ingredient for lowering the level of your low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, which prevents plaque accumulation on the arterial walls. Decongested arteries preserve your heart health and keep you safe from the threat of a heart attack or a stroke.
Moreover, the phytonutrients and antioxidants present in bitter melon help to increase your level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as “good’’ cholesterol. Thus, bitter melon aids in striking the perfect LDL/HDL balance.
According to a 2013 animal-based study published in Nutrition Research, bitter gourd was found to have a mitigating impact on cholesterol levels. While the findings of this animal trial can only be validated after further research on human subjects, they have nevertheless led researches to deduce that bitter melon can prove potent in managing hypercholesterolemia.
Regular intake of bitter melon can help bolster your immune defenses, thereby improving your body’s resilience to combat diseases, infections, and free radical damage. Enriched with antioxidants like vitamin C, bitter melon protects against allergies as well.
The antioxidant-rich bitter melon helps to curb the effects of free radicals within the body. Free radicals are responsible for the destruction of healthy cells and, thus, make the body vulnerable to numerous types of cancer.
Added to that, bitter melon also exhibits certain anticarcinogenic and anti-tumor effects, which make it helpful in preventing or reducing the risk of cervical, prostate, and breast cancers.
Researchers analyzed the anti-tumor activity of bitter melon in a 2010 study published in Anticancer Research. They concluded that bitter-melon-related products induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, or cell death, in cancerous cells without affecting the growth of normal cells, stopping cancer in its tracks.
Besides being low in calories, bitter gourds are replete with phytonutrients and antioxidants that help with weight loss. Bitter melon is composed of 80%-85% water; it induces a feeling of fullness for much longer and keeps you from binge eating or overeating.
This is further aided by its high fiber content, which facilitates a smooth digestive process. This vegetable also promotes the secretion of bile acids that promote fast metabolism of carbohydrates; as a result, less fat is stored in the body.
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, the anti-adiposity property of bitter melon is effective in reducing body fat accumulation.
Bitter melon contains anthelmintic compounds that help kill intestinal worms. It even helps get rid of the toxins that these parasites leave behind as they die.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of bitter melon make it a very good remedy for hemorrhoids or piles.
Additionally, the dietary fiber present in bitter melon softens stools and increases the motility of the gastrointestinal tract. This helps prevent chronic constipation and, in turn, provides relief from hemorrhoids.
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