As the name rightly suggests, it is indeed a very bitter veggie, so no surprises! It otherwise goes by the name of karela or Momordicacharantia. It belongs to the gourd family and staple in many types of Asian cuisine. Though very bitter and not liked by most, bitter gourd is an absolute boon with its multiple benefits. The importance of bitter gourd is that it is blessed with several antioxidants and anti-microbial properties. It helps to boost metabolism along with immunity. Bitter Gourd, like armour, protects us from a multitude of diseases and though outshone by other vegetables, has a lot of benefits to offer.
Importance Of Bitter Gourd:
Bitter gourd works as an excellent blood purifier, and to acquire the maximum benefit of the bitter gourd, it is recommended that we consume it in the form of juice. Drinking bitter gourd juice regularly helps to eliminate toxins from the blood. It aids in treating several skin ailments. It treats acne, psoriasis, rashes, and the blood boils. Some studies state that it may even inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
Bitter Gourd Nutrition Facts:
Some of the nutritional value of bitter gourd(Momordicacharantia). Nutritive value per 100 g of Fresh, raw bitter gourd shows below.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)
Wonderful Bitter Gourd Benefits:
Here are our 18 evidence-based, bitter gourd health benefits. Let’s have a look into them.
1. Anti-Bacterial Properties:
Bitter gourd has several impressive health benefits. Another remarkable bitter gourd health benefits are its outstanding anti-bacterial property for the treatment of several infections. Concentrates of bitter gourd leave benefits have appeared to be viable against numerous microbes, including E. coli, and salmonella, and Helicobacter pylori, the microscopic organisms that cause stomach ulcers. It is known to increase our overall resistance and protect us from viral infections. It keeps us safe from viruses like HIV, Epstein Barr virus, to name a few.
2. Antimalarial Treatment:
World Health Organization has reported that malaria is still one of the most significant diseases in the world. Momordicacharantia L. (bitter gourd) is a medicinal plant used extensively in almost all folklore remedies to treat malaria, across the globe. There have been studies to investigate the effects of M. charantia L (bitter melon) on malaria. M. charantia extracts had intrinsic antimalarial properties that were dose-dependent. The result showed that M. charantia was very effective in suppressing malaria at the highest dose tested(1). Bitter gourd is used in medicine in the form of tablets, capsules, or pills.
3. Prevent Kidney Stones:
Kidney stones are nothing but hardened formations of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Bitter melon may help rid the body of kidney stones and naturally break them down. Bitter melon also helps reduce the high acid that produces painful kidney stones. They are good inhibitors of stone formation because of its antioxidant properties. Bitter gourd can be used as a kidney detox, which aids in flushing out kidney stones in the urine. The antioxidant properties have a protective effect on the kidneys(2).
4. Pancreatic Cancer:
Worldwide, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest of cancers. New studies have come out with a breakthrough where it shows that bitter melon juice inhibits the pancreatic cancer cells to metabolize glucose responsible for causing malignancy in the pancreas. The efficacy of bitter melon juice has been seen where it cuts the cells’ energy source and eventually kills them. Bitter melon juice causes pancreatic cancer cell death and may be effective against pancreatic cancer(3).
5. Good Liver Tonic:
Bitter gourd benefits for the liver are that it purifies blood, activates liver and spleen.This is a common veggie grown all over India extensively. It has excellent medicinal properties. It is an antipyretic tonic, antibilious, and laxative. The juice helps to cleanse the bowel as well as heals several liver problems.
Studies have revealed that a compound called Momordica Charantia offers protection against liver failure. It strengthens the antioxidant activity of the enzymes in the liver. The benefits of bitter gourd can be made use of in the form of supplements.
6. Bitter Gourd Benefits For High Blood Pressure:
Bitter gourd is well is known as an alternative medicine for treating high blood pressure. It is rich in potassium and maintains the blood pressure of the body. Potassium helps by absorbing excess sodium from our bodies. Bitter gourd juice consists of many vital nutrients like iron, magnesium, vitamins, including vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. It is rich in dietary fibre. Bitter juices work well to cure health conditions like blood pressure. When using bitter melon to lower blood pressure, it is best to do it under the advice of a doctor.
7. Bitter Gourd Benefits In Pregnancy:
Pregnancy is a state when the body undergoes several changes. What we consume is closely linked to the development and health of the baby. The significant bitter gourd health benefits for pregnancy are innumerable. Even if something is good, care must be taken to ensure that it is consumed in moderation. Excess bitter gourd can be a disadvantage as it can stimulate the uterus and affect pregnancy. Bitter gourd must be added to the pregnancy diet only under the advice of your doctor.
8. Bitter Melon For Psoriasis:
Regular consumption of bitter gourd is very helpful in the treatment of all types of skin diseases and infections. Infections such as psoriasis, eczema, including fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot, can be effectively treated with the bitter gourd.
Bitter melon for psoriasis can be used either in liquid form as in bitter gourd oil or by adding it to one’s regular diet. This will prevent skin disorders and problems such as acne, rashes, itchiness, etc. The result of adding bitter gourd to our diet can be seen by way of soft, glowing skin, because of its blood purifying properties.
9. Lowers Bad Cholesterol Levels:
Bitter melon helps reduce bad cholesterol in our body, and by doing this, it takes care of our overall heart health(4). Bad cholesterol causes building up of fatty plaque in our arteries, and this can affect our heart health. So far, studies have been conducted on animals, and we await more research on humans to determine their effect on cholesterol.
10. Karela Good For Eyes:
The vitamin A and beta-carotene it contains makes it vital for eye health. Vitamin C, found in abundance, also helps the eyes by protecting it from cell membrane damage. It inhibits eye complications and helps to promote good eyesight. Despite its bitterness, this vegetable should be a welcome addition to our diet, and it is wise to start this early in children and not miss out on its eye health benefits.
11. Impedes Helminthic Infections:
In simple terms, helminthiasis can also be referred to as worm infection. It is the macroparasitic disease of humans in which a part of the body gets infected with parasitic worms known as helminths. Helminthic infection is a prevalent problem. The primary target of helminthic infection is the GI system.
Helminthic infection can be treated in three ways efficiently, i.e., medicinal use, dietary modification, and lifestyle management. It helps reduce the worm burden. Helminthic infection can be treated with traditional medicine such as Momordicacharantia. The extracts of bitter gourd are found to be pharmacologically active against helminths(5).
12. Karela For Weight Loss:
Bitter gourd for weight loss contains antioxidants that help in cleansing and flushing out the system. It helps boost our metabolism and cleanse the digestive tract, thereby helping us to lose weight fast. Another benefit would be the filling component and calorie control. Calorie control happens when you consume low-calorie vegetables. It lets you consume more quantities of them, and the filling component is water in bitter melon. Water assists in combating undesirable hunger.
Bitter gourd is low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories that prevent our body from absorbing fat. These three components help to manage weight, and to avoid overeating, to lead to weight loss.
See More: Health Benefits Of Blueberries
13. Prevent Heart Diseases:
Bitter gourd benefits the heart in several ways, such as decreasing bad cholesterol levels and removing blocks in the arteries. Karela health benefits reduce the risk of having a heart attack. Karela helps regulates blood sugar levels that keep the heart pumping well.
All you need to do is to consume karela juice and keep your heart healthy. It is not difficult to find an easy solution to certain heart diseases with the help of bitter melon. This vegetable is beneficial for heart health in several ways. Bitter gourd does not allow artery walls to clog and helps to maintain proper blood sugar levels.
14. Bitter Gourd For Diabetes:
Bitter gourd contains at least 3 active substances with anti-diabetic properties. They are charantin, which has been confirmed as having a blood glucose-lowering effect, an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p, and vicine, and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p. These substances either work individually or work together to help reduce blood sugar levels. Bitter gourd benefits for diabetes consists of a compound called Polypeptide-p or p-insulin can control diabetes naturally.
Karela juice is an amazing beverage for diabetics. Anyone who decides to take bitter melon along with their diabetes treatment should not consume more than 50–100 milliliters daily. Prepare a concoction of fenugreek powder, Jamun seed powder, neem powder, and karela powder in equal proportions. Consume 1 teaspoon of this half an hour before lunch and dinner along with water.
15. Boost Immune System:
Bitter gourd boosts the immune system and fights against bacteria and viruses, strengthening immunity. It helps prevents indigestion and allergies. The antioxidants work effectively against illnesses and help fight free-radical damage that can cause different types of cancer.
A study revealed that bitter gourd benefits for cancer have anti-tumour and anti-carcinogen properties that reduced the risk of prostate, cervical, and breast cervical cancer. Add bitter melon to the diet to strengthen immunity and help in combating small sicknesses as well as the big ones.
See More: Bilberry Benefits For Eyes
16. Prevents Piles:
Piles is a health condition where the veins inside or outside the lower rectum get swollen. In severe cases, sometimes bleeding may occur. When this condition is left unchecked, this condition may often lead to complications like chronic blood loss, or colorectal cancer.
Fiber content helps piles because of its high fiber content. Bitter gourd juice is beneficial in piles. Those who have chronic piles can drink for a month juice made of a combination of bitter melon and buttermilk each morning. One can soon witness drastic improvement with this remedy.
17. Best Karela Healing Qualities:
Bitter Melon has terrific healing qualities where it can help combat asthma, improve blood flow, and clotting. The wounds heal faster and avoid any kind of infection. It helps treat the stomach from all types of infection and constipation. Doctors recommend adding bitter gourd or bitter melon to our regular diet.
Bitter gourd helps to reduce intestinal disorders and improve the overall digestive health of the body. The healing capabilities are one of the reasons why bitter melon has been widely suggested.
18. Karela Nutritional Facts:
Bitter gourd juice contains many vital nutrients ranging from magnesium, iron, and vitamin to potassium and vitamin C. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It contains twice the calcium found in spinach, beta-carotene in broccoli, and the potassium found in a banana.
Bitter melon is full of health and nutrition with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A1, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, copper, and phosphorus.
Bitter Gourd Benefits For Skin:
Here we enlisted, 2 best karela benefits for skin. Let’s have a look into them.
19. Prevents Aging:
The best way to get a fantastic glow on the skin is the regular consumption of bitter gourd. The karela benefits for skin consist of potent antioxidants such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Both these go a long way to prevent premature ageing and delay the ageing process. It also diminishes fine lines and wrinkles.
The Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin C, and Biotin impart a shine to the skin. The blood purifying properties in the bitter gourd can treat all types of skin infections. It helps to combat acne and gives a healthy and glowing skin. The simplest way to have bitter melon is to blend the cut pieces in a blender, strain, and consume the juice.
20. Treat Acne:
Bitter gourd benefits for skin helps to work against blemishes and deep skin infections. It helps to treat acne with its anti-inflammatory properties. Consumption of karela helps to get rid of acne, skin infections, and scars.
Bitter gourd provides an excellent source of vitamins B1, B3, B2, and C. It is rich in calcium and iron content. Bitter gourd is full of dietary fiber. This bitter vegetable is loaded with magnesium, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and manganese too. Consuming bitter melon every day in moderate amounts can work wonders on your skin and overall health.
Bitter Gourd Benefits For Hair:
Here we enlisted, 5 best bitter melon benefits for hair. Let’s have a look into them.
21. Treat Rough and Tangled Hair:
Bitter gourd is a boon for all those who suffer from rough, tangled, and dull hair. Coarse hair can cause scalp damage and hair fall.
- Pour some bitter gourd juice all over the hair.
- Allow it to remain for the next fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Rinse hair with warm water and wash it with a mild shampoo.
- This will smoothen out the frizzy hair and leave you with soft, shiny, and silky hair.
Bitter gourd benefits for hair will also be helped by another useful remedy to apply bitter gourd juice and yoghurt to the hair and wash after 10 minutes. This will leave you with smooth and glossy hair.
22. Prevent Dry and Itchy Scalp:
Dry hair can end up being very itchy, and it significantly can lower one’s self-confidence. Itchy scalp can be very embarrassing, especially out in public. Excessive itchiness can also lead to hair fall. There are natural ways to cure a dry and itchy scalp.
Karela benefits can be experienced here where all one needs to do is to rub the scalp with a freshly cut bitter gourd slice. Massage this for the next ten minutes and then cleanse hair with a herbal shampoo. To combat any kind of itchiness, one can also use a bitter gourd pack. Make a paste of banana and bitter gourd juice and apply it all over the scalp. This itchiness should significantly improve within a week, at least.
23. Treats Hair Loss:
Bitter gourd juice not only helps in preventing hair loss and reducing hair fall but also helps to strengthen the hair. Bitter melon for hair regrowth can be achieved through regular application of bitter gourd to the scalp. This can decrease hair loss and premature greying of the hair. It helps treats split-ends and rough hair and combats itchiness.
Bitter gourd juice can be applied directly to stop hair fall. It can be mixed with curd and massaged on the scalp to aid in effectively conditioning the hair.
24. Prevents Greying Of Hair:
Bid goodbye to premature greying of hair with this simple yet effective home remedy using bitter gourd juice. Take some freshly squeezed bitter gourd juice and apply it to the grey strands for better results. It can effectively treat premature greying of hair.
Karela is a natural remedy that helps avoid premature greying and then wash it gently with water. This remedy will inhibit premature greying of hair but does not lead to grey hair regaining its colour. Apply bitter melon juice once a week to curb the appearance of grey hair.
25. Treats Dandruff:
Dandruff is a pesky and annoying problem that most of us are aware of. When the scalp is extremely dry, and the hair is rough, all that we need to do is to rub a piece of bitter gourd and massage the scalp, or one can apply bitter gourd juice all over the hair. If one feels itchiness in the scalp, then try applying bitter gourd juice mixed with mashed banana as that can work wonders on the hair. Remember to use it once a week.
Another of pavakkai benefits would be to mix some bitter gourd juice with cumin seeds and apply it over the hair before showering. After 10 minutes, gently rinse hair with lukewarm water. This remedy must be done diligently for a month to witness effective results.
How To Include Bitter Gourd In Your Diet?
- Momordicacharantia benefits can be relished in several ways; you can either sauté bitter melon with tomatoes, onions, and garlic and add it to scrambled eggs.
- They can be had in the form of chips, parathas, or pachadis.
- These are some ways to enjoy the goodness of bitter gourd or bitter melon to our regular diet.
- There are countless recipes available online to make this underrated vegetable palatable for both the young and the old.
Bitter Gourd Side Effects:
Some of the karela’s side effects, when consumed in excess, can be associated with several adverse effects.
- A few of the side effects have been linked to diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting.
- It is not recommended for pregnant women because of its side effects, such as bloating and gas
- One must consult a doctor before including bitter melon, especially if you are taking blood sugar-lowering medications.
- Ensure that you consult your healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions before embarking on treatment with bitter gourd.
- Use bitter melon with caution as it can cause side effects and interfere with other medications.
- Some of the complications and risks with bitter melon include diarrhea, intestinal issues, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, contractions, abortion, a dangerous lowering of blood sugar when taken with insulin, liver damage, etc.
Despite its overpowering bitterness, this vegetable has an abundant impact on our general health. We hope the benefits discussed in this article helped you to find ways to add this underrated veggie to your regular diet. Kindly leave your comments below as we would love to hear your experiences in incorporating this veggie and how it benefited you!