This under-rated vegetable that we dislike because of its bitterness and only occasionally finds its way to our dinning tables is without doubt bitter in taste, but sweet in benefits. Recommended by healthcare professionals for a number of years now, the blissful bitter gourd is a rich source of phytonutrients – such as iron, fibre, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, B and C, etc. Even our parents and their parents have been recommending eating bitter gourd for treating respiratory issues such as asthma as well as ulcers, malaria and constipation.
The beta-carotene content present in bitter gourd helps in controlling eye disorders and enhancing eyesight, especially in cases of macular degeneration, hyperlipidaemia, digestive disorders, microbial infections and menstrual problems. It has also been shown to possess powerful antiviral properties that can stimulate the immune system and activate the body’s natural killer cells to help fight off viruses such as white spot syndrome virus and human immunodeficiency virus – hence why it is useful in cancer prevention fever and infections.
Surprisingly, most clinical research supports the use of this bitter gourd in treating diabetes because it contains polypeptide, which is used to control diabetes naturally. The vegetable is especially rich in vitamin C, an important micronutrient involved in disease prevention, bone formation, and wound healing and is a good source of catechin, gallic acid, epicatechin, and chlorogenic acid, too — powerful antioxidant compounds that can help protect your cells against damage. Plus, it’s low in calories yet high in fiber — fulfilling approximately 8% of your daily fiber needs in a single one-cup (94-gram) serving.
Did you know one cup (94 grams) of raw bitter melon provides:
- Calories: 20
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 93% (Vitamin C is quickly destroyed by heating, cutting or over cooking)
- 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
Although the use of bitter gourd has a number of benefits, it is also important to remember like any medicine or herb that it should be used safely. Eating in bigger amounts has side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. So please eat this vegetable properly cooked and in adequate amounts, as much as boiled, fried half a cup preferably with rice.