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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

Diabetes? Look to Bitter Melon!

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

You may have never heard about this plant, but you may want to listen. Diabetes, Obesity, Cholesterol, and even cancer, this plant is a gem. It's called Bitter Melon, or bitter gourd (along with several other names, but these are the most common)

Used as a staple in India and China, it is closely related to cucumber, zucchini, squash and pumpkin. Bitter Gourd (from bitter to sweet):  Bitter gourd is a common vegetable. It is also known as bitter melon, Chinese gourd, and karela in India.  It's one of the most popular fruits in India, China and other Asian countries.  In fact, it's quite a popular vegetable and not just a fruit because of its versatility — you can use it similar to how you would use cucumber or zucchini in recipes.  

The shape and size of Chinese gourds vary widely depending upon where they are grown.

Widely used for treatment of diabetes, studies have been published showing it can help with obesity as well because of its ability to help modulate fat metabolizing enzymes.

The study also referenced its effective for the treatment of cancer, ulcers, malaria, pain, and inflammation.

Bitter gourd has a high fiber content, which is great for those seeking for beneficial effects. Bitter gourd is also rich in minerals and vitamins such as zinc, magnesium, calcium, folate and niacin.  It's also extremely low in calories with only about 7-9 calories per cup.

This vegetable has many health benefits, but one of the most important reasons why this fruit should be included in your diet is its ability to prevent diabetes.  The vitamin C present in bitter gourd helps dissolve the effect of glucose from sugar found in processed foods.

Another effective way to manage diabetes is by using bitter gourd as your primary food source.  Bitter gourd has a very low glycemic index, which makes it a great food to consume if you want to manage diabetes and prevent future complications involved with the disease.  The high fiber content in bitter gourd also helps people not feel hungry and over eat. With its ability to boost digestion and metabolism, its no wonder that Bitter Melon has become a popular fruit for those who want to slim down fast or fight off diabetes. Plus the vitamin C rich content of this vegetable makes it one of the best choices for those who are looking for anti-aging benefits.

Medicinal Benefits: Bitter gourd has a very high fiber content.  This helps to prevent heart diseases, diabetes and obesity.  Because of its high content of vitamin C, it is also beneficial for curing the common cold.  Studies have shown that bitter gourd fights off free radicals in the body and that it can aid in the prevention of cancer.

Sources of Bitter Gourd:  One way to include bitter gourd as part of your diet is by using it as a filling in many Indian foods.  It's common to find it mixed with potato, carrot, beans or even cabbage in many curries and soups.  Bitter gourd can also be consumed raw.  It is a common fruit in the markets of India.  The most common types of bitter gourd are the green colored ones.

How to Buy Bitter Gourd:  This vegetable can be found in Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores.  You should look for small, green colored dark-purplish fruits, which have smooth skin and are firm to the touch.  

Key Nutrients: Bitter gourd is high in fiber and vitamin C content that helps keep blood sugar level balanced.

How to Use Bitter Gourd:  Bitter gourd is good in curries. It can also be used in stir-fries, appetizers, soups and salads. The seeds of bitter gourds can be eaten when cooked and can be roasted in oil or stir-fried. When young and tender, the bitter gourd can be eaten raw as a salad, dipped into spicy sauces or with rice dishes.

Bitter gourd is rich in nutrients, including Vitamins A and C as well as minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. It also contains a number of antifungal agents that help to protect against fungal infections.

Nutrition Facts:  100 grams of bitter gourd contain about 31 calories. It is a good source of carbohydrate, dietary fiber and protein.  

Bitter gourd is rich in vitamins; it contains about 46% vitamin C by weight or 76% by calorie content (about 96 mg per 100grams). Bitter gourd also contains nearly 20% Vitamin A by weight or 35% by calorie content (about 1380 IU per 100grams).  

Bitter gourd can be used to treat and prevent a number of diseases, both internal and external. For example, it has been relied on in treating wounds (though its efficacy in this regard is controversial), heartburn, rheumatism, hypertension, diabetes, dysentery and impotence by adding the whole plant to the diet.  It is an important ingredient in the Ayurvedic medicine system of India for numerous disorders. In traditional Chinese medicine it may be used for a wide variety of complaints including coughs colds and sore throats. It has also been used in folk medicine for the treatment of leprosy and jaundice.

With all the benefits, it's worth trying!

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