Bitter Melon (Latin name Momordica charantia)is also known as “Karela”, “Bitter Gourd”, or “Bitter Squash” in various parts of the world. It is a type of vine that grows in the tropical and subtropical areas, but mostly in Asia and the Caribbean.
What is really unique about this vegetable is its ability to naturally lower blood sugar and help you keep under control or even reverse diabetes. The reason is that this veggie contains two phyto-nutrients with hypoglycemic action called charantin and polypeptide P (plant insulin).
If you’ve never seen one, it looks much like a cucumber, with the exception that it has gourd-like bulges all over its surface.
This veggie can be found in many varieties that have different color, shape, and size, but also different degree of bitterness.
The red or orange color of the ripe vegetable is contains even more bitterness than the unripe Bitter Melons.
If you are not familiar with this produce, you might have problems with the taste. If you can handle the taste, though, you will get a lot of benefits out of it! Here is why:
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The Nutritional Facts About Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd is relatively low in calories, however, it is dense when it comes to nutrients.
Bitter gourd is rich in Vitamin B3 (niacin), B2 (ribovlavin), B1 (thiamine), Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, and fiber. It has more beta carotene than broccoli, more calcium than spinach, and more potassium than banana.
Here is a list of possible health benefits of Bitter Melon:
Better Blood Glucose Control
Bitter melon is high in hypo-glycemic chemicals that lower blood sugar naturally. These chemicals mimic the biological action of insulin, the hormone responsible to lower the blood sugar levels. Now, anything that takes the part of insulin and allows our body insulin to rest is good, as it improves our glucose tolerance in a natural way.
For best results try to drink Bitter Gourd juice daily. Having 2-3 ounces of this juice two times a day may improve your body’s insulin resistance.
The enzymes in bitter melon juice inhibit the glucose transport mechanisms, which cuts off the tumor cells from their food supply. Basically, the same type of action as in blood sugar control. So, bitter melon is currently being researched for its promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Boost Energy Levels
Consuming bitter melon juice is a great way to boost your energy levels and improve your stamina. The reason is simple: this veggie contains manganese, which is an important nutrient for energy production on cellular level. Moreover, manganese is essential for the protection of the mitochondria (cellular power plants) from free radical damage.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, and it can help your body fight the harmful action of free radicals. This improves the immunity of your body and its ability to resist infection. Fresh, raw bitter melon contains 85 mg of vitamin C, which is about 140 percent of the RDA. This is amazingly high level, if we take into account that vitamin C comes in its full natural package, and not as synthetically produced ascorbic acid.
There is about 190 micrograms of beta-carotene in 100 grams of raw Bitter Gourd. There is no established recommended daily allowance (RDA) of beta carotene, and probably our body can tolerate quite a bit of it. Another group of carotenoids are Lutein and zeaxanthin. There is about 170 micrograms in 100 grams of Bitter melon. These carotenoids is great for the eyes and can help you deal with eye problems or improve eyesight.
Tips for Consuming Bitter Melon
To avoid the excessive bitter taste, use unripe melons without soft parts.
Don’t store them outside of the fridge, as they will spoil easily, especially if kept together with other fruits and veggies.
To diminish the bitter taste, keep them in salty water for up to one hour before juicing.
Remove the seed before juicing.
If you prepare juice to reduce your blood sugar levels, drink it as is, without sugar or any other fruit juice.
Juicing For Diabetics
Generally, juicing is not that good a strategy for diabetes, and if you are going to juice, you have to know what you are doing. But, (unsweetened) bitter melon juice for diabetes is always recommended. To prepare the juice you’ll need no more than 5 minutes of your time.
- 1 average bitter melon. The greener it is, the least bitter the juice will be.
- lemon juice from 1 lemon
- pure water
- Cut the bitter melon along its length and remove the seeds.
- Cut the remaining bitter melon in small pieces that match your juicer mouth, without throwing away the skin.
- Put it in a juicer, or blender.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Don’t add any sweetener, including honey, or stevia.
- Drink about 2 ounces two time a day.
- Keep consuming this juice for at least 30 days.
Possible Side Effects
Bitter melon and bitter melon juice can in some cases cause abdominal pain or diarrhea. Due to its hypoglycemic effects, diabetics should be careful when taking in together with hypoglycemic drugs. They should consult their doctor.
Caution is needed with pregnant women as bitter gourd may over-stimulate the uterus.
Take Away Points
Bitter Melon Juice can help you improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce the blood glucose levels.
However, this has to be followed by proper diet, a lot of real foods, a lot of vegetables, and exercises. Diabetics should reduce their intake of carbohydrates (fewer than 25 grams of net carbs per day).
Bitter melon juice may help with other health problems as well. It is a great home remedy for treating hangover, as it helps cleanse the liver and repair the damage of excessive alcohol consumption.