Bitter Gourd is known as:
Pare : in Indonesian and Javanese
Kugua : in Chinese
Peria : in Malaysian
Yeoju : in Korean
Muop dang : in Vietnamese
Nigauri : in Japanese
Karela : in Hindi
Pavayka : in Malayalam
Korola : in Bengali
Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or karela (in India), is a unique vegetable-fruit that can be used as food or medicine. It is the edible part of the plant Momordica Charantia, which is a vine of the Cucurbitaceae family and is considered the most bitter among all fruits and vegetables.
Bitter melon is a plant. The fruit and seeds are used to make medicine. Bitter melon is used for various stomach and intestinal disorders including gastrointestinal (GI) upset, ulcers, colitis, constipation, and intestinal worms. It is also used for diabetes, kidney stones, fever, a skin condition called psoriasis, and liverdisease; to start menstruation; and as supportive treatment for people with HIV/AIDS.
Topically, bitter melon is used for deep skin infections (abscesses) and wounds.
Bitter melon is used as a vegetable in India and other Asian countries and as an ingredient in some kinds of curries.
Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels.
What is it good for:
1. Good source of antioxidants
It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene that acts against the free radicals in the body, helping in lowering the risk of cancer.The beta-carotenes may also help in improving vision and preventing eye disorders. Apart from strengthening the immune system, the antioxidants are believed to have positive effects on the skin, with the juice and pulp of bitter melon being used as a folk remedy for issues like acne, boils, ringworm and psoriasis.
2. For diabetes
According to some clinical studies, polypeptide-p, charantin, and vicine present in it are believed to help in maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Bitter gourd is the wonder food for all diabetic patients. It significantly reduces the sugar level in the blood. It contains a substance called charantin which has hypoglycaemic effect on diabetic patients. Bitter gourd also increases the insulin sensitivity in the body. They contain lectin that acts like insulin and reduces glucose quantity by acting on various peripheral tissues. It has been found that bitter gourd activates APMK that regulates the glucose uptake.
3. Low in calories protects Heart
As bitter gourd contains low amounts of fats and carbohydrates, it could be a part of various weight loss diet to help fight obesity. Bitter gourd helps in the reduction of blood pressure. It is rich in potassium which helps in the absorption of sodium in the body. Bitter gourd is rich in folates which help in decreasing the occurrence of heart strokes. Folates also eliminate homo-cysteine that can damage the arteries. It can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride in the blood. It has been found that it lowers down the NF-KB inflammatory pathway.
4. Decreases Respiratory Diseases
As studies have shown, certain substances giving some vegetables their bitter taste can relax the airways. So, eating bitter gourd might be beneficial for people having chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
5. Source of dietary fibers
The dietary fibers in bitter gourd can be beneficial for digestion as they boost the release of gastric juices, thus helping in preventing several abdominal conditions, including constipation.
6. Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd – Nourishes Skin
Bitter gourd is very helpful for skin. It helps in purifying the blood which helps in providing shine and glow to the skin. Various skin related problems like acne, boils and pimples can be reduced by its consumption. It aids in digestion and detoxifies the body. It can be used to reduce various skin infections, eczema and psoriasis.
7. Bitter Gourd helps in reducing Weight
Bitter gourd can be very helpful in reducing the body weight of a person. It provides very less amount of calories. Consumption of bitter gourd is also filling as it contains mainly water. Dietary fiber in bitter gourd gets slowly digested in the intestines making a person feel less hungry. It provides a variety of nutrients; so a person need not worry about getting nutrient deficit while dieting.
8. Bitter Gourd Benefits – Good for Eyes
Bitter gourd is a source of beta-carotene. They help in the protection of eyes. Beta carotene gets converted into Vitamin-A which helps in the protection of retina of the eye. They also help in preventing the free radicals from damaging the eye.
9. Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd –Anti-Cancerous
Bitter gourd is helpful in restricting the growth of cancer cells. Bitter gourd contains alpha-electrostatic acid which helps in killing the cancerous cells. It has been found to be helpful against breast cancer as it significantly decreases proliferation.
10. Other Health Benefits Of Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd is anti-malarial, anti-viral and anti-helmintic. High dietary fiber and cellulose helps in preventing constipation and piles. Bitter gourd leaves can be consumed to curb cholera and diarrhea. Bitter gourd juice is helpful in detoxifying the liver and makes it more efficient. Bitter gourd is known to increase the immunity as it provides with a lot of minerals and is also anti-microbial. It makes the body resistant to many infections. Vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin helps in reducing memory losses and diseases like Alzheimer’s. Multiple studies have claimed bitter gourd to contain certain substances that may be capable of suppressing the growth of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as well as inhibiting the development of breast cancer cells. However, more research is necessary to confirm its effects. It has also been traditionally used for managing the early symptoms of cholera and for getting rid of piles.
Side-effects of bitter gourd:
There’s no doubt that bitter gourds extremely healthy and are packed with loads of benefits. However, there are a few side effects of this vegetable that one must take into consideration before over indulging in it. Some of the most common side effects of bitter gourds are given below.
1. Abdominal pain
Excessive consumption of bitter gourd (more than 2 ounces of juice or more than two gourds a day) is not advisable as it may lead to mild abdominal pain or diarrhea.
2. Preterm pregnancy labour
Too much consumption of bitter gourd or its juice is a big no for pregnant women. This is because having too much of bitter gourd tends to stimulate the uterus and might lead to preterm labour. According to some clinical studies, it might lead to miscarriage. Breastfeeding mothers are also advised to avoid its consumption as it may be harmful for the baby.
3. Drug interactions
Bitter gourd might cause adverse effects on the body when consumed together with other glucose-lowering agents.
Those suffering from a deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) can tend to develop a condition called favism if they consume seeds of bitter gourd. This condition can lead to anemia, fever and headache, stomach pain and in worst case scenario, can also make a person comatose.
5. Harmful for children
Arils, the seed coverings of bitter gourd, can have toxic effects on children. It can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and even death in severe cases.