Bitter melon, bitter gourd, karela, caraille, Momordica charantia; whatever you call this prickly-looking fruit, it’s useful to know about what it can do for you. A native to tropical and subtropical climates, it has been utilised for years as a remedy for a variety of ailments. You can use all parts of this plant: the fruit, leaves and root and each have different properties, although most research refers to the fruit itself. Read on to discover our Top 5 Health Benefits of Bitter Melon!
1. Maintains blood sugar levels
Bitter melon is now more widely known to help manage diabetes due to its anti-diabetic properties. A published study found that there was a continuing reduction in blood glucose levels in diabetics who had been given doses of bitter melon, whereas diabetics given a placebo did not have reductions to the same extent. It has even been noted to contain p-insulin (a plant insulin replacement) which can help with Type 1 diabetes and numerous other studies support this.
2. Help with hangovers
Now it’s common knowledge that the only cure for a hangover is to not drink the night before but that’s no good when all is said and done! Bitter melon can help relieve those nasty symptoms of a hangover and undo some of the damage done from a heavy night by detoxifying and nourishing the liver.
3. Immune system booster
A 100g serving of bitter melon provides you with approximately 140% of your recommended intake of vitamin C. Widely known to reduce the risk of illness vitamin C can also help lessen the severity and duration of an illness. A study found that the leaves helped protect against infection by stimulating the cells that fight it.
4. Eye health
Containing twice the amount of beta-carotene than broccoli and a good source of vitamin A, bitter melon is great for eye health. The body can convert beta-carotene into vitamin A and studies have shown a direct link between sufficient vitamin A in the diet and a reduction in age-related macular (which is in the centre of the retina at the back of the eye) degeneration.
5. Aids digestion
Bitter melon helps stimulate a sluggish digestive system by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices. Also, being high in fibre means that this fruit helps promotes a healthy gut and reduces the risk of colon cancer.
So, how do you take it? As the name suggests, bitter melon or gourd is very bitter in taste. The fruit itself can be eaten or made into juice and you can use any part of the plant to brew into a tea. The extract can also be bought as a convenient powder or in tablet form. Due to its hypoglycemic properties, bitter melon can enhance your diabetes medication, so please consult your GP before taking it. Got any experiences or recipes to share using bitter melon? let us know below or @ KeepFitKingdom !