Bitter Gourd & It's Nutritional Benefits
When our wise ancestors said “ Health is wealth “, they meant it in all seriousness . The last 18 odd months of Covid have only further endorsed the need of being in good health (Non-negotiable but don’t a good number of us still take it for granted?) all the time.
How would you like to be introduced to someone who can bring this good health into your life without too much hard work? Introducing Bitter Gourd… The Cornucopia of good health
Do I see some of you frowning? Remembering how it felt to eat it? Frown not, my good friends, I will let you into a little secret of incorporating Bitter gourd into your diet, minus the taste … But that’s for later!
For starters, how did bitter gourd get this nickname? Bitter gourd— also known as bitter melon or Momordica charantia — is a tropical vine that belongs to the gourd family and is closely related to zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber.
It's an edible fruit which is considered a staple in many types of Asian cuisine. The Chinese variety is typically long, pale green, and covered with wart-like bumps whereas the Indian variety is more narrow and has pointed ends with rough, jagged spikes on the rind. In addition to its strong flavour and distinct appearance, bitter gourd has been associated with several impressive health benefits.
A glass of Bitter Gourd juice to be consumed first thing in the morning (do not scowl) was considered to be a panacea in Ayurveda. Not only does it pack several vital important nutrients, its role in various health conditions is being recognised, just today, across the world.
Power Packed with Several Important Nutrients
Bitter Gourd is a great source of several key nutrients. As per the FDA sites1 which is a trusted indicator for various nutrient formulations, One cup (94 grams) of raw bitter gourd provides a total of 20 Calories.
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Fiber : 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 93% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
- Folate: 17% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Zinc: 5% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
Surprisingly it's not very well known that Bitter gourd is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. An important micronutrient involved in disease prevention, bone formation, Immunity enhancer and wound healing. (2)
It’s high in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes skin health and vision. (3) Highly rich in Folate which is essential for growth and development, as well as smaller amounts of potassium, zinc, and iron. (4)
Bitter gourd is a very good source of catechin, gallic acid, epicatechin, and chlorogenic acid, too — powerful antioxidant compounds that can help protect body cells against damage. (5)
Don’t get intimidated by these serious sounding scientific terms. In a nutshell it means that it’s packed with all the good stuff. The best part is that it’s low in calories yet high in fiber — fulfilling approximately 8% of the daily fiber needs in a single cup (94-gram) serving.
Isn’t it Ironic that one gets such sweet health benefits from something which is called Bitter Gourd?!
A recent article labels Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) as a cornucopia of health with its credited antidiabetic, anti-HIV, and antitumor properties
Let’s understand how many of these jaw dropping health benefits are packed in a small bitter fruit:
1. Known to Help Reduce Blood Sugar
Because of its potent medicinal properties, bitter gourd has long been used by indigenous populations around the world to help treat diabetes-related conditions. (6)
In the last few years it has been extensively studied across the globe & several studies have confirmed the fruit’s role in Blood sugar control. The supplement significantly decreased levels of fructosamine, another marker of long-term blood sugar control (7). Bitter gourd is thought to improve the way that sugar is used in tissues and promote the secretion of insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels (8).
These are from some studies & many more studies on going across the globe will validate these superior benefits.
2. Could Have Cancer Fighting Properties
Some Research suggests that bitter gourd contains certain compounds with anti-cancer properties
A test-tube study showed that bitter gourd extract was effective at killing cancer cells of the stomach, colon, lung, and nasopharynx (9). Another test-tube study had similar findings, reporting that bitter gourd extract was able to block the growth and spread of breast cancer cells while also promoting cancer cell death (10).
Research is on going & as more results are revealed to the world we can arrive at concrete conclusions.
3. Could Decrease Cholesterol Levels
High levels of cholesterol can cause fatty plaque to build up in arteries, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood which increases the risk of heart disease (11). Several animal studies found that bitter gourd may decrease cholesterol levels to support overall heart health.
Additional studies are needed to determine whether these same effects apply to humans eating the gourd as part of a balanced diet.
4. May Aid Weight Loss
One study found that consuming a capsule containing 4.8 grams of bitter melon extract each day led to significant decreases in belly fat.
Participants lost an average of 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) from their waist circumference after seven weeks (12). Similarly, a study in rats on a high-fat diet observed that bitter gourd extract helped decrease body weight compared to a placebo (13).
All these studies were performed using high-dose bitter melon supplements. As
more & more research is being conducted on the effectiveness of bitter gourd, results will definitely validate these health benefits. Although, one thing is for sure; incorporating the same into your diet will surely benefit you.
So how do we incorporate this into our daily diet without the bitterness of the fruit?
You can resort to specially formulated supplements curated for you! Our perfectly dosed, organic and absolutely pure Bitter Gourd Capsules are the most convenient way to reap the rewards of this amazing food.
I am sure all of you would agree with me that with these various health benefits, bitter gourd rightly deserves the title of “ The Cornucopia of Good Health" (14).
1.US Dept of Agriculture site
2. Indian J Clin Biochem.2013 Oct; 28(4): 314–328.
Published online 2013 Sep 1. doi: 10.1007/s12291-013-0375-3
3. Community Eye Health.2013; 26(84): 65
4. Rev Obstet Gynecol.2011 Summer; 4(2): 52–59.
5. Beneficial Role of Bitter Melon Supplementation in Obesity and Related Complications in Metabolic Syndrome
6. Asian Pac J Trop Dis.2013 Apr; 3(2): 93–102.
Antidiabetic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and its medicinal potency
7. Hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon compared with metformin in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients
Author links open overlay panelAnjanaFuangchana1PaveenaSonthisombataTippawadeeSeubnukarnb2RapeepanChanouanc3PontapChotchaisuwatd4ViruchSirigulsatiene5KornkanokIngkaninanf6PinyupaPlianbangchanga7Stuart T.Hainesg
8. Momordica charantia and Type 2 Diabetes: From in vitro to Human Studies
Author(s): Sandra D. Habicht, Christine Ludwig, Ray-yu Yang, Michael B. Krawinkel
Journal Name: Current Diabetes Reviews
Volume 10 , Issue 1 , 2014
9. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2012; 2012: 261971.
Momordica charantia Extract Induces Apoptosis in Human Cancer Cells through Caspase- and Mitochondria-Dependent Pathways
10. Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) Extract Inhibits Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation by Modulating Cell Cycle Regulatory Genes and Promotes Apoptosis Prevention and Epidemiology
Ratna B. Ray, Amit Raychoudhuri, Robert Steele and Pratibha Nerurkar
DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3438 Published March 2010
11. High cholesterol: Overview
Created: August 14, 2013; Last Update: September 7, 2017; Next update: 2020.
12. Nutr J.2012; 11: 4.
Published online 2012 Jan 13. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-4
Wild bitter gourd improves metabolic syndrome: A preliminary dietary supplementation trial
13.Nutr Res Pract. 2015 Oct; 9(5): 489–495.
Published online 2015 Jun 19. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2015.9.5.489
The effects of Momordica charantia on obesity and lipid profiles of mice fed a high-fat diet
14. Curr Mol :2011 Jul;11(5):417-36.