Found in tropical and sub-tropical regions like Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, bitter gourd is one of the healthiest options that you can include in your diet.
The fruit (yes, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable ! ) is easily available in local stores and supermarkets in Sri Lanka and popular for two reasons- its health benefits and its super bitter taste. The latter is the reason why most of us have hated bitter gourd since our childhood and have always tried avoiding it at the dinner table.
However, by doing so, you may also have avoided all the healthy nutrition bitter gourd can deliver to your body. Don’t believe us? Here are a few health benefits of bitter gourd that will make you look past its bitterness.
A Boon for Diabetics
If you or someone you know suffers from diabetes, bitter gourd / Karawila is a must. It contains Polypeptide-p, an insulin-like compound that helps control diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels and improves glycemic control. This prevents the sudden drops and spikes in insulin levels, making bitter gourd a natural hypoglycemic agent.
However, a diabetic person who has been taking hypoglycaemic drugs might need to consult a doctor before starting to consume bitter gourd daily, as they might need to alter the drug dosage.
Helps with Weight Loss
If you are on a strict weight loss regime, you should definitely include bitter gourd in your diet plan. The fruit is extremely low in carbs and fat, so you’ll be consuming very less calories. An added advantage is that bitter gourd contains 80% water, so it will naturally suppress your hunger by making you feel full for longer.
Eating bitter gourd also helps in stimulating the liver for increasing the secretion of bile acids, which are important for metabolizing fat. It helps in breaking down the fat cells and slowing down the formation of new fat cells, making it a natural anti-obesity agent.
Great for Eyes, Skin, and Hair
Bitter gourd is loaded with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, and magnesium. It will give you twice the amount of calcium that you would get from spinach, and twice the beta-carotene that broccoli would provide. Bitter gourd not only strengthens the immune system but also boosts skin and hair health, thanks to its anti-aging properties. It also helps in preventing cataract and other eye-related problems and improves your vision. A little known fact is that it also treats dark-circles as it contains various anti-oxidants.
Fights Bad Cholesterol
Bitter gourd contains anti-inflammatory properties and is known to lower the bad cholesterol level in the body. Being rich in potassium, it absorbs all the excessive sodium in your body, thus helping maintain the blood pressure. The fruit also keeps your heart healthy and decreases the risk of stroke as it contains folic acid and iron.
The list of bitter gourd’s health benefits can go on and on. It improves respiratory health, aids digestion, cures hangovers and boosts liver health. You can consume bitter gourd by cooking it or making a juice out of it. But too much of bitter gourd can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain. Also, it is not advisable for pregnant women as it may lead to preterm labor. Nutritionists recommend taking 30 ml of bitter gourd juice every day.
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