Bitter gourd, bitter melon and Karela are all synonyms to this one magical vegetable-fruit. It is a tropical vine that belongs to the gourd family and is closely related to zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber. The name comes from its characteristic: it gets bitter as it ripens. Its extract is considered a staple in Asian cuisine. Coincidentally, bitter gourd originated in India and was later introduced to China in the 14th century.
Momordica charantia is the scientific name for the miracle melon. Its benefits are numerous. Given that it is rich in essential nutrients, it has been recognized by many cultures as having medicinal value.
Here are some of the benefits of bitter gourd:
- It helps to maintain blood sugar levels
Diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to produce hormone insulin which leads to high levels of insulin in the bloodstream. Bitter gourd has been said to contain substances that suppress the appetite and therefore decrease the blood sugar levels. It contains at least three active substances with anti-diabetic properties, including charanti, which has been confirmed to have a blood glucose-lowering effect.
Bitter gourd contains an insulin-like compound called Polypeptide-p or p-insulin which has been shown to control diabetes naturally. The polypeptide brings glucose to the cells for energy and therefore helping with both diabetes. According to an article on National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the cause of diabetes is genes and environmental factors, and perhaps natural supplements such as bitter gourd are a solution to this lifestyle disease. How to live with diabetes
- Lowers cholesterol levels
Cholesterol refers to the accumulated deposits of fat and lipids in the bloodstream. It interferes with the flow of blood and can, therefore, lead to a clot or heart attack. The good news is, bitter gourd has been said to lower cholesterol levels. The anti-inflammatory properties in the bitter gourd help to break down the fats during digestion and thereby reducing the amount of cholesterol that is in the bloodstream. The fibre in bitter gourd also helps to unclog the arteries.
- Cures hangovers and cleanses the liver
Hangovers can be so uncomfortable. They make a person feel nauseous and drowsy. Bitter gourd helps to reduce that feeling. Bitter gourd has the ability to reduce the alcohol deposits that are in the liver. It cleanses your bowel as well as healing many liver problems. It does this by strengthening the antioxidant activity of the enzymes in the liver.
- To achieve flawless skin
Bitter gourd has powerful antioxidants along with Vitamin A and Vitamin C which prevent premature skin ageing and diminishes wrinkles. It also reduces acne, aids in treating eczema and psoriasis, as well as protects the skin from the harmful UV rays. If you’re looking to improve the quality of your skin, you should look into using bitter gourd.
- Helps to prevent cancer
Cancer is one of the leading cause of deaths in the world today. Although a cure has not been discovered as such, there are several natural treatments that have been said to kill cancer cells. Bitter gourd has been said to have the ability to reduce the cancer cells in the body significantly. It works against cancer cells proliferation and stops tumour formation. The risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer is significantly reduced after regular consumption of bitter gourd.
- Weight loss
Bitter gourd is low in calories and rich in fibre. It reduces the formation of adipose tissues which are responsible for storing fat in the body. On top of this, it improves metabolism which is the sum of the chemical reactions that take place within each cell of a living organism and that provide energy for vital processes. It also has antioxidants that help to detoxify the fat.
- It improves the overall health of the eye
Karela is rich in Vitamin A which helps to prevent cataract and maintain healthy eye vision. Vitamin A protects the surface of the eye called the cornea which in turn protects the inner parts of the eye from deterioration.
However, like all things, you must use karela with caution otherwise you risk experiencing some health problems such as diarrhoea and stomach upset. Pregnant ladies should also take karela with caution because it leads to uterine contractions.