Science-Backed Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd
1. Loaded With Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Bitter gourd is a great source of many essential vitamins and minerals.
It is a rich source of both vitamin C and vitamin A. It also contains vitamin B complex and vitamin E. Other essential components like calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and folate are also packed into this melon. Consuming fruits and vegetables are important because of the role these nutrients play in our body. Such as...
- Vitamin C plays a very important role in maintaining a strong immune system, wound healing, collagen formation, and protection from neurodegenerative diseases
- Vitamin A maintains eyesight and bone health.
- Vitamin B complex is involved in many functions throughout the body including maintaining a healthy nervous system.
2. May Help You Maintain Your Sugar Levels
Animal studies have shown that bitter gourd has hypoglycemic effects. Certain properties of bitter gourd, like charantin, vicin, glycosides, karavilosides, lectin, and the polypeptide-P (AKA p-insulin, an insulin-like protein derived from plant), are thought to be responsible for the hypoglycemic effect of bitter gourd.
These properties work by increasing the glucose uptake of the cells, inhibiting the enzymes involved in gluconeogenesis (glucose formation), preserving the cells that produce insulin (beta-islet cells), and stimulation of insulin secretion.
Clinical trials with human subjects are limited, though many people with diabetes in developed and developing countries use bitter gourd as a complementary and alternative treatment for this disease. Well designed clinical trials are needed in this area of research.
3. May Protect Your Heart
Another touted benefit of bitter gourd is that it is cardioprotective in nature.
A study conducted in 2018 suggests that bitter gourd effectively reduces LDL cholesterol. An animal study from 2015 showed a reduction in serum triglycerides (TG) and an increase of HDL cholesterol with bitter melon use.
LDL cholesterol and TG are responsible for the formation of atherosclerosis, which eventually leads to heart disease. You may have heard them described as “bad cholesterol.” HDL is often referred to as the "good cholesterol", that prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in our system. A reduction in harmful cholesterol and an increase in good cholesterol provides long-term protection to your heart.
4. A Powerful Antioxidant
Vitamin A, C, E, phenolics, and flavonoid content of bitter gourd makes it an excellent source of antioxidant.
Antioxidants neutralize free-radicals protecting us from their harmful effects. These antioxidants give bitter gourd anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed promising anti cancer activity where bitter gourd extract induced spontaneous cell death of cancer cells.
5. Great for Your Skin
Collagen gives the elasticity to our skin and keeps our skin wrinkle-free. Adequate consumption of food rich in vitamin C will help you to maintain youthful skin.
Free-radicals are a major cause of premature aging, as bitter gourd is a source of antioxidants, it may help to provide protection from the inflammatory effect of free-radicals on your skin.
Vitamin C and collagen also play a very important role in wound healing. A diet rich in vitamin C helps you maintain skin integrity.
6. Improves Liver Function
Bitter gourd has protective properties for the liver as well.
The antioxidant property of bitter gourd may prevent inflammation in the liver. One study suggested that it helps maintain liver enzymes (ALT, AST, ALP), and may prevent necrosis and other damages in the liver.
A 2014 study on animals showed that bitter gourd was protective against alcoholic fatty liver. As this study was performed on mice, more studies are needed to show efficacy in humans.
7. Aids in Weight Loss
Bitter gourd is a good source of fiber. Fiber does wonders for promoting weight loss. It is digested slowly and keeps you full for a longer duration.
Some animal-based studies show that bitter melon extract reduced weight in high-fat diet-induced obesity. It helps to prevent weight gain by increasing fat break-down and thus promoting weight loss.
If you are trying to lose weight, this may be a great addition.
Possible Side-Effects of Bitter Gourd Juice
Bitter gourd is a pretty safe fruit.
Excess consumption is linked with stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting, and diarrhea. Gastric ulceration is also a potential risk of too much consumption of bitter gourd juice.
How to Prepare Bitter Gourd Juice
Bitter gourd juice can be very easily prepared at home.
- Wash the bitter gourd, cut it into two halves, and remove the seeds. Chop the fruit into smaller pieces for better processing.
- If you have a juicer, go ahead and use this method. Simply put the fruit from one end, you may need to add a little water, and you'll get freshly processed bitter gourd juice from the other end. Note that fiber is lost during the juicing process.
- If you don't own a juicer, you can use a blender. Blend the chopped bitter gourd with some water until you are left with a smooth paste. Then strain this blend to remove larger chunks, and voila, your juice is ready.
Most people will find this juice a bit difficult to drink. It is, as the name suggests, bitter!
If you can drink this juice as it is,great! If not, you can use a few things that might be available in your kitchen to easily tackle the bitterness.You can mix some salt, honey, or artificial sweetener of your choice in the drink as a sweet treat. You can also add some lemon juice, or mix any other fruit juice of your choice with some natural sweetness in it. This should help to make it a little bit more palatable.
So, What's The Verdict?
Bitter gourd juice is quite safe to consume in moderation and easy to prepare at home.
Although not for the faint of heart, bitter gourd has some promising health benefits that make it worth a try. Let us know how you like to drink this melon at home!