Bitter gourd is commonly found in Asian cuisines and especially in Oriental dishes, they are often stir fried. Frying it didn’t make the bitter taste go away but if you continue consuming bitter gourd, you would eventually get used to the taste.Bitter gourd or also known scientifically as Momordica Charantia comes from the Cucurbitaceae family. I believe that once you know about the many bitter gourd benefits, you will be more forgiving of its bitter taste in return for its health giving properties.
7 Amazing Bitter Gourd Benefits
(1) Treating Type II Diabetes
Bitter gourd has at least three active substances with anti-diabetic properties. There’s charantin, vicine, and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p. Just like insulin, they can all reduce blood sugar levels.
Bitter gourd contains a lectin that reduces blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing appetite – similar to the effects of insulin in the brain.
This lectin is thought to cause the hypoglycemic effect that develops after eating bitter melon.
There are four compounds in bitter melon that activate an enzyme (AMPK) that is also activated by exercise.
According to an article, Chemistry & Biology (2008), AMPK moves glucose transporter molecules to cell surfaces. Cells get glucose from the blood this way.
Note that exercise is recommended as part of a normal Type 2 diabetes treatment. Exercise and the consumption of bitter gourd or its juice will give you the bitter gourd benefits that you need to keep Diabetes under control.
(2) Combating Aging
Bitter gourd contains flavonoids such as ß-carotene, a-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin and is rich in vitamin-A.
These compounds protect against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that contribute to aging, cancers and various diseases.
(3) Another one of many Bitter Gourd Benefits: Fighting Cancer
The 2010 publication Bitter Melon: Antagonist to Cancer reports:
The incidence of cancer is increasing worldwide, in spite of substantial progress in the development of anti-cancer therapies.
One approach to control cancer could be its prevention by diet, which inhibits one or more neoplastic events and reduces cancer risk.
Dietary compounds offer great potential in the fight against cancer by inhibiting the carcinogenesis process through the regulation of cell homeostasis and cell-death machineries.
For centuries, Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) has recommended the use of bitter melon (Momordica charantia) as a functional food to prevent and treat diabetes and associated complications.
It is noteworthy to mention that bitter melon extract has no-to-low side effects in animals as well as in humans.
The anti-tumor activity of bitter melon has recently begun to emerge.
This review focuses on recent advancements in cancer chemopreventive and anti-cancer efficacy of bitter melon and its active constituents.
Several groups of investigators have reported that treatment of bitter-melon-related products in a number of cancer cell lines induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis without affecting normal cell growth.
Therefore, the effect of bitter melon should be beneficial for health, and use of the non-modified dietary product is cost effective.
Many might not like the bitter taste but the bitter gourd benefits is too great to just ignore the fruit.
(4) Detoxifying the Liver
Bitter melon juice can help you detoxify your liver and improve your blood circulation. Liver failure can lead you straight to the emergency room, if you get there fast enough. With early detection before the fateful ambulance trip, liver failure can often be treated effectively.
Many traditional therapies use bitter melon extract to treat liver conditions effectively. However, always seek a doctor’s advice before approaching any alternative medicines.
A study (Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, August 2010) examined the anti-hyperglycemic and antioxidative potential of aqueous extracts of bitter melon in clinically induced diabetic rats.
Three groups were used: a control group of healthy rats, a second group of diabetic rats receiving no treatment, and a third group consisting of diabetic rats treated with the extract of bitter melon.
Following a 30 day treatment of the rats, researchers found significant improvements in the blood glucose levels to almost normal.
Antioxidant activities and lipid metabolism levels were also observed in heart, kidney and liver tissues of all three groups.
The study noted effective improvement in both the levels of reactive substances and antioxidant activities in the third group of rats (treated with the bitter melon extract).
It was concluded from the study that Momordica charantia reduces the blood glucose levels (good news if you’re diabetic), and has antioxidant potential to protect vital organs (see below).
Bitter gourd has immune stimulating, antiviral, antitumorous, antiprotozoal, and even antileukemic properties. It can be a source of many different antioxidants that defend the body against illness.
Antioxidants go around the body destroying free radicals – dangerous compounds released during metabolism that cause illness.
Add bitter gourd to your diet, and you can protect your body from lethal diseases in organs like the heart, liver and kidney. These three sites are where free radicals are likely to cause cellular damage.
A note of warning: bitter gourd should be avoided by people who already have low blood sugar levels or those who have a history of liver problems.
(6) Respiratory Conditions
Apart from the above mentioned three organs, your lungs also benefit from this noble, bitter pod. It can relieve respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, and hay fever (rhinitis) because of its following properties: anti-histamine, suppressant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and antiviral.
(7) Hemorrhoid Relief
Bitter melon has anti-inflammatory qualities that can relieve hemorrhoids. Its root can be turned into a paste and you can apply it on your skin to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pain and bleeding. Drinking bitter melon juice may bring similar benefits.
Word of caution when Consuming Bitter Gourd
Bitter melons are powerful chemicals; they should be consumed cautiously. Pregnant women should not consume bitter melon, because it can stimulate excess menstrual bleeding, and not much is known on its effects on breast feeding. When in doubt, consult a physician, or just avoid it. Also, as mentioned earlier, it can drastically reduce blood sugar levels, so it’s not ideal to consume any of it before or after a surgery.
Adversely, bitter melon can cause dehydrogenase deficiency and some people are sensitive to that. They feel similar symptoms to anemia, in addition to headaches, fevers, and stomach pains. This fruit is potent, and before you eat it, see the doctor before you make him go away.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site which includes articles, excerpts, studies, etc is intended for educational purposes only. The information should not be used as a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is also not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You are advised to seek prompt medical care for any health issues that arise. You are also advised to consult your doctor before you attempt to use alternative medicine or making a change to your health and medical regimen.