Bitter melon or Karela is one of the healthiest vegetables in the food kingdom. It has been used for centuries for its health benefits. The plant and fruit both taste delicious in a smoothie, soup, stir fry, and sliced thin in a salad–it tastes exactly how it sounds, bitter. So if you love bitter tastes, you can also make it into a tea. Here’s everything you need to know about the unique fruit.
The plant possesses over 225 different medicinal constituents. Bitter melon is a powerful nutrient-dense plant composed of a complex array of beneficial compounds. These include bioactive chemicals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which all contribute to its remarkable versatility in treating a wide range of illnesses. The fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as vitamin B9 (folate). The caloric values for leaf, fruit and seed were 213.26, 241.66, and 176.61 Kcal/100 g respectively.
The fruit is also rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, and is a good source of dietary fiber (bitter melon “monograph”, 2008). The medicinal value of bitter melon has been attributed to its high antioxidant properties due in part to phenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, anthraquinones, and glucosinolates, all of which confer a bitter taste.
Ways in which Karela can be consumed?
- Yummy karela sabzi for lunch/dinner.
- Juice out raw karela and consume for immense health benefits.
- Make a yummy spicy stuffing using karela and relish in stuffed paranthas.
- Fry thin slices of karela and your healthy karela chips are ready for consumption.
Good for Diabetics
Bitter gourd has a compound that functions similar to insulin. In fact, ‘Karela and diabetes’ are often coined together! It reduces the blood glucose levels in both Type I and Type II diabetes. Consuming a glass of karela juice is so effective that diabetes patients need to reduce the dosage of their medicines.
Good for your Skin and Hair
Karela is rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, which are good for the skin. It reduces aging and fights acne and skin blemishes. It is useful in treating various skin infections like ringworm, psoriasis, and itching. Karela juice adds luster to the hair and combats dandruff, hair loss, and split-ends.
Bitter gourd is liver-friendly and detoxifies. It boosts liver enzymes and is a good cure for a hangover as it reduces alcohol deposits in the liver. The bladder and the gut also benefit from consuming karela.
Karela is full of fiber and helps improve bowel movement. It relieves constipation and settles the stomach.
Improves Cardiac Health
Bitter gourd reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases the risk of suffering a heart attack. The fiber also helps to unclog the arteries.
Karela boosts immunity and prevents allergies and infections. But its most significant benefit is that it fights cancer. It works against cancer cells proliferation and stops tumor formation. The risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer is significantly reduced after regular consumption of bitter gourd. The “plant’s extract inhibits cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, autophagy and inhibiting cancer stem cells,” the researchers wrote.
Karela aids in weight loss as it is low in calories and fiber-rich. It stops the formation and growth of adipose cells, the ones that store fat in the body. It improves metabolism, and the antioxidants help detoxify the body leading to the reduction in fat.
Karela has great healing properties. It controls the blood flow and blood clotting that helps in quicker healing of wounds and reduction in infections.
Karela has a high amount of antioxidants, and this helps it to cure many problems related to corrupted blood. Regular consumption of bitter gourd leads to improvement in skin, hair, and cancer problems. Also, it helps to improve blood circulation.
Energizes the Body
The body’s stamina and energy levels show remarkable improvement after regularly consuming karela. It even helps improve sleep quality and reduces sleep problems like insomnia.
Benefits the Eyes
Karela is rich in vitamin A and prevent cataract and strengthens vision. It even lightens dark circles. Also, read 10 foods that are good for eye health.
Moderate your karela consumption to ward off diarrhea and stomach ache. Also, pregnant women should avoid consuming karela as it leads to uterine contractions.