Fresh produce, especially vegetables, can significantly benefit those on a diabetes diet. The vitamins, minerals and plant compounds found in them can help manage blood sugar levels. They can also provide fibre, keeping you satiated and less prone to unhealthy cravings. One of the best foods for diabetics is karela (bitter gourd or bitter melon). Although it is technically a fruit, we consider it a vegetable because of its bitter taste and savoury use while cooking. Karela can be consumed in a variety of ways as part of a diabetes diet. Before we discuss a few suggestions, take a look at its health benefits below:
Is Karela (Bitter Gourd) Good For Diabetics?
Karela contains charantin as well as an insulin-like compound called Polypeptide-p or p-insulin. Both of these are believed to help manage blood glucose naturally. According to the USDA, 100 grams of bitter gourd has 13 milligrams of sodium and as much as 602 grams of potassium. Research has shown that lower levels of potassium may be associated with a higher risk of diabetes. Additionally, a low-sodium diet is often recommended to diabetics to help reduce other related health complications. These are all the more reasons to make karela a part of your diet. Bitter gourd is rich in vitamins C and A and can boost your overall health.
Also Read: Is Makhana Good For Diabetics? Here's What You Should Know
Beyond Karela Juice: 6 Easy And Unique Ways To Add Bitter Gourd For Diabetes
One of the most popular means of consuming karela is in the form of a simple juice. Bitter gourd juice is one of the best natural drinks for diabetics and can also help in weight loss. According to Nutritionist Dr Anju Sood, "Karela juice makes your insulin active. When your insulin is active, your sugar would be used adequately and not converted into fat." But if you're looking for other interesting and healthy ways to add it to your diet, here are our recommendations:
1. Karela-Palak Juice
Give the classic juice a special twist by mixing in some spinach (palak) juice too! Spinach is a non-starchy leafy veggie that has a low glycemic index. It is also low in calories and carbs while being high in a variety of nutrients. This unique green juice thus combines the goodness of two diabetes-friendly ingredients in a single concoction. Find the recipe here.
2. Karela Tea
You can brew a wholesome karela tea at home using just 2-3 ingredients. Apart from lowering blood sugar levels, this lesser-known drink can detoxify your liver, help control cholesterol levels and also improve digestive health. Not all may relish its taste, but the benefits are more than worth it! Click here for the recipe.
Also Read: Diabetes Diet: 10 Hot And Cold Drinks That Can Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
3. Karela Tikki
If you want to take better advantage of the fibre content of this gourd, consume it in foods rather than drinks. But the challenge of its bitter taste will still remain. A good idea is to choose specific spices and other ingredients to create a balance of flavours. You can use karela to make a different kind of veg tikki that is healthy and delicious. Grated bitter gourd is combined with other veggies, paneer, buckwheat flour and seasoning. Here's the complete recipe.
4. Karela Thepla
Did you know that Gujarati thepla is good for diabetes? You can even take it two notches higher with this recipe - since it adds karela to the dough as well as bajra (pearl millet). The latter can also greatly help manage blood sugar levels. This is a wholesome and high-fibre thepla that you are sure to savour. Click here for the recipe.
5. Ragi Roti With Karela Stuffing
Apart from incorporating bitter gourd into a dough, you can also use it to make a kind of stuffed paratha. We suggest making a dough using millets like ragi, jowar, bajra, etc. and a nutritious filling of karela, palak, methi (fenugreek leaves), cauliflower and a few chillies. With so many greens in one food item, you can rest assured of wide-ranging health benefits. Here's the detailed recipe.
6. Dahi Wala Karela
Karela is also used in certain traditional sabzi preparations. However, not all of them are suitable for diabetics. An excess of oil and/or can pose problems. But one yummy dish that you can consider trying is dahi wala karela. You can pair it with regular/ millet roti or brown rice for a satisfying meal. Watch the recipe video here.
Now you know exactly how to drink and eat karela in a healthy manner. Remember to consume it in moderation, as an excess may lead to other issues. If you're already undergoing diabetes treatment, consult your doctor regarding its inclusion in your diet.
Also Read: 5 Khichdi Recipes That May Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
About Toshita SahniToshita is fuelled by wordplay, wanderlust, wonderment and Alliteration. When she is not blissfully contemplating her next meal, she enjoys reading novels and roaming around the city.