Bitter gourd also known as ampalaya is a vegetable that looks like a cucumber but with ugly gourd-like bumps all over it. Bitter gourds are commonly found in Asian countries and South America because it thrives in hot and humid climates. This vegetable tastes bitter as its name implies, it is used as ingredient in salads or vegetable dishes where it is believed to lower sugar content in the blood. Bitter gourds are very low in calories but dense with precious nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. Although the seeds, leaves, and vines of this vegetable have different uses, the fruit is the most predominantly used part of the plant in traditional herbal medicine.
- Bitter gourd is an excellent natural remedy for diabetes; because it has hypoglycemic or insulin-like compound, known as “plantinsulin”. It reduces the blood and urine sugar levels. For best results diabetic should take the juice of about four or five fruits every morning on an empty stomach. Its regular use prevents many complications such as hypertension, eye complications, neuritis and defective metabolism of carbohydrates.
- Bitter gourd juice is very helpful in treating blood disorders like blood boils and itching. Just mix 2 ounces of fresh bitter gourd juice with some lemon or lime juice. Sip it slowly on an empty stomach daily, in 4-6 months you will see improvement in your condition.
- Bitter gourd can help alleviate eye problems and improving eyesight.
- Bitter gourd juice is beneficial in the treatment of a hangover because of its detoxifying property. It also helps cleanse, repair and nourish liver.
- Bitter juice can help increase the body’s resistance against infection.
- Regular consumption of bitter juice is known to improve skin condition.
- Regular consumption of two ounces of fresh bitter melon juice, mix with a cup of honey diluted in water may help respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis.
- Bitter juice can help prevent leprosy.
- Bitter gourd stimulates digestion and can be very potent in people with dyspepsia and constipation.
- Bitter melon is helpful in the treatment of intestinal worms and diarrhea.
Ampalaya Leaves Benefits:
- Bitter gourd juice can help in the early stages of cholera, take two teaspoonfuls juice of bitter gourd leaves mix with one teaspoonful lime juice. Sip this mixture daily till you get well.
- Vitamin C: 88 mg
- Calcium: 20 mg
- Iron: 1.8 mg
- Carbohydrate: 4.2%
- Phosphorus: 70mg
- Fat: 0.2%
- Protein: 1.6%
- Fiber: 0.8%
How to lessen the bitter taste of Bitter Gourd: To lessen the bitter flavor; soak it in salt water for about half an hour before juicing/cooking.
How to buy Bitter Gourd: Choose unripe bitter gourds that are firm, avoid those that have turned orange or have soft spots. Ripe bitter gourds are very bitter.
Storing Bitter Gourd: Place the bitter gourd in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Keeping bitter melons at room temperature or with other fruits and vegetables will hasten the melon to ripen and become more bitter. When stored properly it should keep for three to four days.
Side Effects of Bitter Gourd:
- Do not consume more than two ounces of bitter gourd juice or two bitter gourd a day, because excessive intake may cause diarrhea.
- Diabetics who are taking hypoglycemic drugs will need to change the dosage of their drugs if they consume bitter gourd on a regular basis. Consult your doctor.
- Pregnant women should avoid taking too much bitter gourd or its juice as it may stimulate the uterus that may lead to preterm labor.