Bitter gourd or bitter melon has several impressive health benefits. It belongs to the same family as pumpkin, melons, squash, cucumber, and melons. Bitter gourds are cultivated around the world and are generally known for their strong bitter flavors and distinct appearance.
Due to its incredible health benefits, bitter gourd is traditionally known for its medicinal properties. Its parts including the fruit, stems, leaves, and roots are all utilized for treating various medical illnesses. Let us understand its health effects in detail.
Medical Benefits of Bitter Gourd
As an abundant source of antioxidants and flavonoids, bitter gourd may help lower the risk of numerous health issues that are given below:
Best for Diabetics
Its strong and bitter taste comes from the bioactive compounds – saponins and terpenoids, which help to reduce blood sugar level and maintain it to normal levels in individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It keeps the blood sugar in control with the help of polypeptide-p compound. Hence, its regular consumption can be beneficial for diabetic individuals as the compounds help with the uptake and absorption of glucose from the blood to the cells of the body. It is also beneficial for individuals with type-1 diabetes.
Ensures a Healthy Immune System
Being a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants, bitter gourd protects your body from the attack of free radicals. It helps to boost your overall immunity. These antioxidants combat various illnesses by forming a robust defense mechanism that blocks the action of free radicals and several other dangerous compounds. It has potent antiviral properties that boost your immunity and increases your metabolism. In this way, bitter gourd can prevent heart attacks, kidney dysfunction, and liver disorder.
With its cancer-fighting properties, bitter gourd lowers the risk of various types of cancers including breast cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. It prevents the growth and development of breast cancer cells and kills the cancerous cells. It contains numerous antioxidants including catechin, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, etc. that protects your body from free radical damage including cancer and aging.
Aids in Weight Management
Bitter gourd is a go-to food that can help you shed those extra pounds as it is low in carbohydrates, calories, and fats. It is a fiber-rich food that improves your metabolism. It prevents the growth and development of adipose cells that are responsible for depositing fats in the body. And then, the antioxidants in the bitter gourd help with detoxification and reduction in belly fat and body weight.
Supplement for Blood Purification
With its antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, bitter gourd serves as an effective food supplement that can help you with the purification of blood. It enhances your skin health and helps with the prevention of various skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.
Improves Respiratory Health
Including bitter gourd in your diet prevents respiratory problems and relieves conditions such as asthma, rhinitis, and bronchitis. It also wards off the issues of cough and cold.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Bitter gourd can help you to increase your heart health. It prevents the build-up of fatty plaque in the passages of the blood vessels. The minerals present in bitter gourds such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium increase the good cholesterol levels by reducing the bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Thus, bitter gourd improves your heart health.
Treats Hemorrhoids Problems
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are a result of swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum which affects the individual’s daily life. This illness can be improved with the help of bitter gourd as it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. You can make a paste of the roots of the bitter gourd and apply it directly to the swollen area of the rectum or anus. With its anti-inflammatory properties, bitter gourd mitigates pain and prevents bleeding.
Bitter gourd is a potent anti-fungal agent which helps with the cleansing and detoxification of the blood. It purifies your blood and reduces the risk of severe health conditions. Its anti-bacterial properties can help the body to eliminate bacterial infection or pathogen build-up. Hence, it nourishes your body by purifying your blood.
This bitter veggie is rich in compounds such as zinc, vitamins, and proteins which promote hair growth. It helps with the development of hair follicles and ensures their health. It adds shine to your hair and strengthens them from roots to tips.
Improves Gut Health
Bitter gourd can be consumed on regular basis, as it is loaded with a high concentration of fibers which improves digestion and regulates a healthy bowel movement. With its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, bitter gourd increases your gut health by keeping the intestinal condition at bay. It also helps with the prevention of constipation and cures irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Diabetes and obesity are the major contributors to vascular dysfunction. They impact the vascular mechanisms by damaging the endothelial cells of the blood vessels and affecting their normal function. Further, damaged blood vessels cannot carry out the proper blood circulation to the body parts. The lack of blood flow to the penile can lead to erectile dysfunction or impotence in men, which affects their ability to attain and sustain erections. However, bitter gourd is known for maintaining the vascular mechanism in optimal conditions. Thus, bitter gourd is helpful in treating erectile dysfunction.
Some Side Effects of Bitter Gourd
Perhaps, too much bitter gourd is as bad as too little. Given its benefits, it is necessary to consume it in moderation. It can be dangerous if you are already using medications for controlling your blood sugar level. Further, its excessive consumption can potentiate the risk of diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting.
Pregnant women should be careful while including this veggie in their regular diet. Hence, it is necessary to ask your healthcare provider about its appropriate consumption.