The bitter the better

I wasn’t aware of this amazing vegetable till my nutritionist told me is a must in daily diet. It is mostly found in Asian countries and has many different health benefits, however it is rather bitter in taste. I’m talking about the bitter gourd – the bitter melon which looks like a cucumber but with ugly gourd-like bumps all over it. There are two varieties of this vegetable: One grows to about 20 cm long, is oblong and pale green in color. The other is the smaller variety, less than 10 cm long, oval and has a darker green color.

bitter gourd small

Smaller and bitter version

bittergourd

Bigger in size, with smoother skin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smaller ones are a lot more bitter, but according the my nutritionist they are exceptionally nutritious. Of course the best way to consume them is to eat them raw, but not many people are able to stand the bitterness. It is also possible to juice them (everyone is into juicing these days 🙂 or cook them as part of your daily vegetable intake. I’ve shared a few simple recipes bellow.

Nutritional Benefits

Bitter gourds are very low in calories but dense with precious nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is rich in iron, contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana.

Bitter melon notably contains phyto-nutrient, polypeptide-P; a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. In addition, it composes hypoglycemic agent called charantin. Charantin increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in the cells of liver, muscle and adipose tissue.

  • Calories: Bitter gourd is quite low in calories with a 100 gram serving providing just 17 calories.
  • Vitamin C: Bitter gourd is an excellent source of vitamin C with 100 grams of raw pod, providing 84 mg of this vitamin which is equivalent to 140% of Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).
  • Folates: Fresh pods are a good source of folates. 100 grams of fresh pods provide 72 µg of folate which is equivalent to 18% of RDI.
  • B-vitamins: It is also a good source of B-vitamins like niacin or Vitamin B3, pantothenic acid or Vitamin B5 and pyridoxine or Vitamin B6.

Health Benefits

Blood disorders:  Bitter gourd juice is highly beneficial for treating blood disorders like blood boils and itching due to toxemia. Mix 2 ounces of fresh bitter gourd juice with some lime juice. Sip it slowly on an empty stomach daily for between four and six months and see improvement in your condition.

Diabetes mellitus:  Bitter melon contains a hypoglycemic compound
(a plant insulin) that is highly beneficial in lowering sugar levels in blood and urine. Bitter melon juice has been shown to significantly improve glucose tolerance without increasing blood insulin levels.

Energy:  Regular consumption of bitter gourd juice has been proven to improve energy and stamina level. Even sleeping patterns have been shown to be improved/stabilized.

Eye problems:  The high beta-carotene and other properties in bitter gourd makes it one of the finest vegetable-fruit that help alleviate eye problems and improving eyesight.

Gout:  Bitter gourd juice is liver cleansing. It helps clean up a toxic blood, improves blood circulation and relieves gout pain.

Hangover:  Bitter melon juice may be beneficial in the treatment of a hangover for its alcohol intoxication properties. It also help cleanse and repair and nourish liver problems due to alcohol consumption.

Immune booster:  This bitter juice can also help to build your immune system and increase your body’s resistance against infection.

Piles:  Mix three teaspoonfuls of juice from bitter melon leaves with a glassful of buttermilk. Take this every morning on empty stomach for about a month and see an improvement to your condition. To hasten the healing, use the paste of the roots of bitter melon plant and apply over the piles.

Psoriasis:  Regular consumption of this bitter juice has also been known to improve psoriasis condition and other fungal infections like ring-worm and athletes feet.

Respiratory disorders:  Take two ounces of fresh bitter melon juice and mix with a cup of honey diluted in water. Drink daily to improve asthma, bronchitis and pharyngitis.

Toxemia:  Bitter gourd contains beneficial properties that cleanses the blood from toxins. Sip two teaspoonfuls of the juice daily to help cleanse the liver. Also helpful in ridding jaundice for the same reasons.

Weight loss: Bitter gourd contains antioxidants, which help to flush out your system. This improves your metabolism and digestive systems thus helping you lose weight quickly.The two other major factors that aid in weight loss is the calorie control and filling components. Calorie control happens as such because vegetables are low on calories which allows you to consume more quantities of them. Filling component in this vegetable is water. We know that water is a universal suppressant of hunger. And the pods of this vegetable contain on the whole 80-85% water.

In order to enjoy these health benefits it is necessary to consume bitter gourd daily for extended period of time. As mentioned before in order to achieve best results it is best to eat the vegetable raw or juice it, however it is also beneficial to include it in your meals and get the rest of the family to try it.

 

Quick and Easy Bitter Gourd Recipes:
http://chinesefood.about.com/od/vegetablesrecipes/tp/Bitter-Melon-Recipes.htm
http://www.noobcook.com/bittergourd-egg/
http://healthmeup.com/photogallery-recipes/diabetic-recipes-10-indian-bitter-gourd-recipes/19543

 

Stay Healthy,

 

Dina

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