Bitter Gourd Benefits And Side Effects
Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon, bitter squash or karela, is one of the most common vegetables cooked in Indian kitchens. It is bitter in taste, but offers a huge variety of health benefits. It is sometimes used for both its medicinal as well as nutritional properties. It has its origins in South Asia, but now it is being grown in other parts of the world too. Most people think that it is a vegetable, but according to botany, it is technically a fruit. However, its use in the kitchen is more commonly how we would use a vegetable than eating fruit, especially as it is difficult to eat raw. Bitter melon is known to provide relief from a wide range of health problems. Let’s read this oneHOWTO article to find out detailed information on bitter gourd benefits and side effects.
Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd
There is a wide range of health benefits that one can enjoy by including bitter gourd (momordica charantia) in your regular diet. These abilities to help maintain a better overall health include:
- Improves digestive system: bitter gourd is rich in dietary fiber. For this reason, it is good for the digestive system and helps in keeping the gut healthy. Dietary fiber plays an important role in improving digestion and providing relief from related problems, such as constipation and dyspepsia. It also contains anthelmintic compounds that kill infectious worms or parasites in the stomach and other parts of the digestive tract.
- Boosts immunity: the presence of vitamin C in bitter gourd improves immunity and makes it stronger. By fighting against the pathogens and disease causing bacteria, it helps in keeping us healthy. Bitter melon also has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which play a significant role in maintaining a healthy body.
- Helps diabetic patients: bitter melon contains phytonutrients such as Polypeptide-P which mimic insulin activity and lower blood sugar levels in a diabetic patient. It also contains phytochemicals like steroid, lipid, alkaloid and triterpene which are effective in keeping blood sugar under control.
- Manages weight: bitter gourd has a very low calorie content. 100 gm of it contains merely 17 calories. Because of this, it becomes an excellent food for managing weight and shedding pounds. One of the best ways to lose weight with bitter melon is to drink its juice on an empty stomach. Drinking its juice on a regular basis not only manages weight, but also detoxifies blood and accelerates metabolism to aid weight loss.
- Improves eye health: because bitter gourd is laden with beta carotene and vitamin A, it is helpful in preventing macular degeneration of eyes due to age. It also keeps the eyes protected against other visionary issues, such as cataracts. It is also rich in vitamin C which prevents eyes against oxidative damage.
- Works as an antioxidant: rich in vitamin C, bitter gourd also works as a powerful antioxidant and fights against free radicals to keep them stable and prevent them from causing damage to the body. Vitamin C is also helpful in enhancing collagen production. It is also rich in zinc to keep hormone levels healthy in the body.
- Reduces stress: bitter melon also has sedative and anti-bilious properties which can relieve stress and make you feel relaxed.
- Reduces blood pressure: drinking bitter gourd juice everyday is found to be very beneficial in lowering high blood pressure levels. Hypertension may be associated with a number of other health related issues as well, such as heart disease, diabetes etc.
- Boosts energy: consuming bitter gourd is also associated with boosting your energy levels, increasing your stamina and preventing lethargy and tiredness.
- Prevents heart disease: bitter gourd may reduce high cholesterol levels in your body which are associated with clogging your heart’s arterial walls and giving rise to a variety of heart related problems. It also regulates your blood pressure levelsassociated with increased risks of developing heart disease. Consumption of bitter gourd on a regular basis can keep your cardiovascular system healthy and prevent heart disease.
- Improves bladder and kidney health: bitter melon is found to be very effective in purifying blood and removing toxins from the body. That is why it is considered to be very efficient in keeping your bladder and kidneys healthy. Because bladder and kidneys have to do less work to remove toxins from the body, they help in improving your overall health. It is also helpful in removing kidney stones.
- Treats respiratory disorders: bitter gourd is effective in removing mucus from your respiratory tract and the lungs. This is why it is found to be highly beneficial for patients suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems. Regular consumption of bitter gourd juice mixed with honey is extremely helpful in relieving asthma, pharyngitis and bronchitis.
- Cures blood disorders: consumption of bitter melon on a regular basis is very efficient in relieving a number of blood related disorders, like toxemia, blood boils and others. To achieve this effect, mix lime juice in bitter gourd juice and consume on an empty stomach for 4-6 months.
- Improves liver health: regular consumption of bitter gourd juice helps in flushing out toxins from your system and relieving a wide range of liver problems.
Diseases treated by bitter gourd
In addition to improving health and preventing a number of health related problems, bitter gourd is thought to be effective in treating a large number of diseases. As these are home remedies, scientific research is not always thorough, but they may provide assistance. They include:
- Piles: Mix 3 tsp bitter gourd juice with 1 glass of buttermilk and consume it on empty stomach for one month to treat piles or haemorrhoids.
- Psoriasis: Bitter melon is thought to be effective in treating psoriasis and other fungal infections on skin.
- Gout: Gout is caused due to toxins in the blood. Because bitter gourd has blood purifying properties, it may help relieve gout as well.
- Cancer: Although it cannot cure cancer, it may reduce risk of developing several cancer types because of its high antioxidant level. It fights against free radicals, keeps them stable and prevent them from causing damage to the skin cells. It is also may be helpful in reducing the trigger of cancer leukemia cells.
None of these bitter melon home remedies are a replacement for a physician's advice. If you fear you may have any of the above medical issues, ask a doctor for the right course of treatment for you.
Side effects of bitter gourd
Now that you know the health benefits of bitter gourd, it is important to know about its side effects as well:
- Eating bitter gourd in large amounts can cause certain side effects, including headache and a few gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
- While cooking bitter gourd, you should avoid eating its seeds, as they may cause headache, fever, abdominal pain and other such side effects.
- Some people may have allergy to red arils in bitter melon, leading to possible vomiting and diarrhea after consumption.
- Apart from causing side effects, bitter gourd may also interact with a few drugs that you might already be taking, such as vinblastine and paclitaxel.
- Since bitter melon can significantly reduce your blood sugar levels, your levels may go excessively down if you are already taking anti-diabetic medicines as well. So, if you are a diabetic patient and taking anti-diabetic medicines, you should take bitter gourd under moderation and keep a watch on your blood sugar levels.
- Some people may develop irregular heart beat after drinking bitter gourd juice. When heart beat becomes irregular, it may lead to pooling of blood on one side of the heart, and result in heart attack or stroke.
Although edible, most people will not be able to tolerate raw bitter gourd as, unsurprisingly, it has an intense bitter taste. Cooking bitter gourd and adding condiments will help to make it more palatable. It is often used in many South Asian dishes and can be absolutely delicious when prepared properly.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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