Bitter melon, also called bitter gourd or Momordica charantia, is a vine that is grown mostly in the tropical regions of the world and belongs to the gourd family. If you are wondering what this vine is related to, these have close relations with zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber.
Cultivated all around the globe for its fruit, bitter melon is actually a staple in many Asian cultures. However, there is a lot of difference between the Chinese and Indian varieties of bitter melon. The former is longer and paler in color. They have warts on their skins. The latter one is narrower and has pointed ends. These also have jagged spikes on their body. Bitter melon has a sharp flavor and different appearance than most fruits and is known worldwide for its exceptional health benefits. Let’s discuss the benefits, side effects, and uses of bitter melon in this post.
Health Benefits of Bitter Melon
Here are the top benefits of Bitter Melon that you should know.
1. Contains Important Nutrients
Bitter melon is a source of key nutrients like Carbohydrates, Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, Potassium, Zinc, and iron. Of all these, bitter melon has a high concentration of Vitamin C which is an important micronutrient helpful in disease prevention and bone formation.
It is also helpful in healing wounds quickly. Vitamin A present in bitter melon is known to improve skin health and vision. It is a good source of gallic acid, epicatechin, and chlorogenic acid which are essentially antioxidants that keep free radicals in check.
Bitter melon is a good source of fiber as well and fulfills almost 8% of all your daily fiber requirements.
2. Reduces Blood Sugar
If you are looking for a fruit that can help you cure your diabetes, look no further than bitter melon. Now, bitter melon has great medicinal properties that have been tapped by the indigenous populations all around the world to treat health conditions like diabetes.
One of the recent studies has confirmed that the fruit works to control blood sugar levels in the body. It can effectively decrease the levels of fructosamine which is a sign that it can keep the blood sugar levels in check for a long period of time.
3. Has Cancer-fighting Properties
Many studies on bitter melon have concluded that the fruit has certain compounds in it that show cancer-fighting properties. Test-tube studies on bitter melon showed how the melon extract effectively killed the cancerous cells found in the stomach, colon, lung, and nasopharynx.
Another similar test found that bitter melon could block the growth of breast cancer cells to an extent that it caused the death of the cells itself.
These tests were performed using a concentrated amount of bitter melon and on individual cells. Therefore, a lot more research has to be done to conclude that bitter melon can cure cancer.
4. Decreases Cholesterol Levels
Did you know that fatty plaque can build up in your arteries if you do not keep your cholesterol levels in check? It’s true and it can have harmful consequences on your body and even increase the risk of a heart attack.
There have been many studies done on animals that show how bitter melon decreases the cholesterol levels to maintain the health of our hearts. Most of the studies have been done on rats on a high-cholesterol diet. When bitter melon extracts were used on the rats, it led to the reduction of total cholesterol and LDL which is also known as bad cholesterol, and also triglycerides.
There has been another study that compared the bitter melon extracts to the effectiveness of a placebo. When higher doses of bitter melon extracts were given, it showed better results than the placebo. However, most of the studies related to bitter melon extracts are limited to animals only.
5. Helps in Weight Loss
If you are looking for a weight loss diet, you should never underestimate the power of adding bitter melon in it. Bitter melon makes an excellent component of one’s weight loss diet as it has good concentration of fiber.
The fiber, when enters your body, passes through the digestive tract and moves slowly. This makes you feel less hungry and thus you will eat less as well.
We highly recommend swapping high-calorie ingredients with bitter melon to improve your fiber intake. There also have been studies suggesting the fat-burning properties of bitter melon.
Side Effects of Bitter Melon
It’s time we talked about the side effects of using bitter melon. Yes, bitter melon has all the good things in it and something our parents will never stop advising us to eat. But, we highly recommend you to practice moderation.
When done that, the bitter melon will never disappoint you and provide all its healthy and nutritious value to you. Okay, so what happens when you take bitter melon in large quantities? Well, if you consume high amount of bitter melon or take high dosage of bitter melon supplements, it will have adverse effects on your health.
You will suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and excruciating stomach pain. Bitter melon is not recommended for pregnant women as it can have adverse effects on her and the baby. Therefore, one should always consult their doctors before eating bitter melon or going on a bitter melon rich diet.
Uses of Bitter Melon
There are so many ways people use bitter melon today. Bitter melon can be savored raw and is also cooked in various cuisines.
Bitter melon can be pan-fried, baked, or even steamed for that matter. You can even hollow it out and fill it with your desirable fillings. You can create your own beverage by mixing the juice of bitter melon with other fruits and vegetables. This nutrient-packed beverage can be your go to food to get energy or important nutrients.
Bitter melon is a fruit that can do it all. The gourd family must be so proud of it. Well, why won’t they be? It’s not only rich in nutrients but also provide tons of health benefits. Have you ever tried bitter melon in your diet? Let us know in the comments!