Did you know that bitter gourd or karela is not really a vegetable but a fruit? The part of the plant that is used for consumption and for various medicinal purposes is the fruit of the bitter squash. While we’ve been so busy condemning its bitter taste, we’ve not only overlooked this fact but also the wide range of benefits that drinking bitter gourd juice offers.
Bitter gourd juice contains a train of important nutrients ranging from iron, magnesium and vitamin to potassium and vitamin C. An excellent source of dietary fiber, it also contains twice the calcium of spinach, beta-carotene of broccoli, and the potassium of a banana. Here are some crucial benefits of drinking bitter gourd juice. A quick tip to reduce the bitterness of the drink is to add some honey or jaggery to it or pair it with sweet fruits like apple or pears. You can even add lemon juice to lessen the harsh taste of bitter melon juice. A pinch of black pepper and ginger can also decrease the tartness. The taste however, needs to be developed because contrary to its name bitter gourd is in fact sweet for your health.
1. Helps in maintaining blood sugar levels
The World Health Organisation has estimated that over 382 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. Bitter gourd contains an insulin-like compound called Polypeptide-p or p-insulin which has been shown to control diabetes naturally. According to a 2011 study, published in the sJournal Ethnopharmacolgy, a four-week clinical trial showed that 2,000 mg of bitter melon when taken on regular basis reduced the blood glucose level significantly in the patients suffering from type-2 diabetes. Studies have shown that this plant-based insulin in bitter gourd helps patients with type-1 diabetes as well. Another report issued in the Journal of Chemistry & Biology, gave evidence regarding the fact that bitter melon increases the uptake of glucose and improves glycemic control. People suffering from diabetes taking hypoglycaemic drugs may even be required to alter the dosage of their drugs if they consume bitter melon juice daily and consult a doctor before doing so.
2. Lowers bad cholesterol levels
Bangalore-based Nutritionist, Dr. Anju Sood, says, “Bitter gourd juice is anti-inflammatory and
also helps in lowering the bad cholesterol levels in the body. Thereby, it significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.” It also maintains the blood pressure of the body as it is rich in potassium, which absorbs excessive sodium in the body. It is rich in iron and folic acid which are known to decrease the risk of stroke and keep your heart healthy.
3. For glowing skin and lustrous hair
Longing for that flawless skin? Dr. Simran Saini from Fortis Hospital in New Delhi suggests that bitter gourd juice has powerful anti-oxidants along with vitamin A and C which prevent premature skin ageing and diminishes wrinkles. Furthermore, it reduces acne, aids in treating eczema and psoriasis, as well as protects the skin from the harmful UV rays.
The nutrients vitamin A, vitamin C, Biotin and Zinc impart shine and lustre to your locks. Applying bitter gourd juice regularly to your scalp can decrease hair loss and greying of hair, treat split-ends and rough hair, shrug off dandruff, and combat itchiness. You can apply bitter gourd juice directly to stop hair fall or mix it with some curd and massage on your scalp and hair for conditioning. To treat dandruff, you can make a hair mask with bitter gourd juice, cumin seed paste and a tablespoon of lime juice. Leave for 30 minutes and rinse. Dr. Saini adds that the juice also acts as a blood purifier.
4. Cures hangovers and cleanses the liver
Got too much alcohol in your system after a crazy night of partying? You can get rid of it quite swiftly by sipping some bitter gourd juice which wipes out alcoholic intoxication settled in your liver. The juice cleanses your bowel as well as heals many liver problems. Published in the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition, a study concluded that a compound called Momordica Charantia provides protection against liver failure by strengthening anti-oxidant activity of the enzymes in the liver. It also boosts the functioning of your bladder.
5. Helps in weight loss
Bitter gourd is low in calories, fat and carbohydrates. It keeps you full for longer and hence, it can easily fit in your weight loss plan. In a 2010 issue of a report published in the Journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it was disclosed that extracts of bitter gourd helped in the dislocation of human fat cells and also hindered the formation and growth of new fat cells. It was further concluded that bitter gourd can be viewed as a natural agent for treating obesity.
6. Boosts your immune system
Bitter gourd fights viruses and bacteria and strengthens your immunity. It prevents allergies and indigestion. The antioxidants work as powerful defense mechanisms against illness and also help fight free-radical damage that can cause various types of cancer. In 2010, a study was published in the Pharmaceutical Research Journal which stated that bitter-melon has anti-carcinogen and anti-tumour properties. It reduced the risk of prostate, breast and cervical cancer.
7. Great for your eyes
Dr. Anshul Jai Bharat says that it helps in preventing vision-related problems such as cataract since it has compounds like beta-carotene and vitamin A which are healthy for your eyes and strengthens eyesight. She adds, “It is also a good home remedy to treat dark circles.
“As with everything, moderation is required. Excess consumption of bitter gourd juice may cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Pregnant women should also avoid taking too much bitter gourd or its juice as it may stimulate the uterus and lead to preterm labour. 30 ml bitter gourd juice extract is recommended on a daily basis,” says Dr Geeta Buryok, Chief Nutritionist at Max HealthCare.
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