In this day and age, good nutrition and healthy livings are popular topics and goals. We all want to be healthy and it seems some of us want to get there in the trendiest and most unique way. There are many exotic fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are helping people get healthy in their own special way. Many of which, I’ve never even heard of and then suddenly I hear nothing else but of their amazing benefits. The latest fashionable, healthy, superfood I’ve heard of is bitter gourd juice.
WHAT IS BITTER GOURD?
Good question. I’ve heard of gourds, but bitter gourd is new for me. Juicing them is even less familiar. Bitter gourd is also known as bitter melon and in India, it’s referred to as karela. Bitter gourd comes from the Momordica Charantia plant. It is a vine plant that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Bitter melon is a strange vegetable-fruit that is said to provide some amazing benefits as part of your diet or as medicine. Don’t expect a super, sweet treat though. Some call bitter melon the most bitter of any fruit or vegetable. Bitter gourd juice is, yes you guessed it, the juice from this bitter fruit-vegetable.
You can find bitter gourd growing in both subtropical and tropical regions. It grows in South America, parts of Asia and Africa, and the Caribbean—always on a vine. The fruit-vegetable grows into a green, round elongated shape. It has a bumpy, irregular skin surface. The bitterness of the gourd depends on its size, texture, and also on where it is grown.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BITTER GOURD?
The bitter gourd is said to benefit our health in an impressive number of ways, such as:
- preventing complications from diabetes
- reducing hypertension
- assisting in weight loss
- lowering levels of blood glucose
- preventing cancer
- removing toxins (even nicotine!)
- easing the symptoms of asthma
- preventing premature aging
- aiding digestion
(The Bitter Gourd Project, Health Beckon)
These are hefty claims for a warty fruit-vegetable. Let’s look at a few claims a bit more closely. According to the scientifically cited information published by The Bitter Gourd Project, bitter gourd has proved itself to accomplish at least a few of the previous claims.
Lowering glucose in the blood. Evidence in trials using animals showed that bitter gourd does indeed show characteristics of treatment able to lower blood glucose. It differs from typical medicine in that IT affects glucose in the entire body instead of just one organ.
Preventing complications from diabetes. Diabetics are at risk of becoming blind, getting diabetic feet or kidney disease, and suffering from kidney disease, stroke or even from a heart attack. Because bitter gourd lowers blood sugar and is antioxidative, it can guard against these conditions and problems.
These studies and more exist to help us make more informed decisions on the next big health craze we decide to buy and bite into. But, remember, there are always precautions to consider, because your health is not something to gamble with.
SIDE EFFECTS OF BITTER GOURD
Many sites and sources claim that there are no negative side effects of bitter gourd. But, in fact, according to a study available by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), deaths have been reported from drinking bitter gourd juice. The situations may not have been regular, but it certainly urges consumers to pay attention and to not ingest the latest trend blindly. In addition, The Bitter Gourd Project cautions us that more bitter gourd does not equal more benefits. Bitter gourd, when consumed excessively by some patients, can cause hypoglycemia to a dangerous degree. It is also cautioned that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take bitter gourd in any form. Even if you are not pregnant and consider yourself very healthy, it is best to consult your physician before introducing bitter gourd juice into your diet.
HOW TO USE BITTER GOURD?
So you’ve discussed bitter gourd with your physician and have decided to go for it. Now what? Livestrong.com gives us some tips and preparation guidelines to get us started with bitter gourd juice.
They recommend drinking the juice in the mornings before eating anything else, supposedly giving maximal benefits. If the bitter juice is too bitter, it shouldn’t be a surprise, but perhaps you’ll want to sweeten it anyway. Add a bit of honey, but not other sugars. Other sugar products might affect the healthy benefits, defeating the purpose altogether.
If you’ve found yourself a bitter gourd fruit and are feeling a little lost, Livestrong has also graciously provided some preparation instructions:
- Remove the skin from the gourd using a knife. Make sure to wash the gourd after skin with cold water.
- Cut the gourd in half lengthwise. You should now be able to see the seeds inside.
- Remove the seeds and the whitish portion that they’re found in. Now you’ll have only the outside portion, which is green.
- Take this green portion and cut into cubes.
- Collect the cubes in a bowl.
- Fill the bowl with water, a ½ teaspoon of salt or lemon juice, cover, then soak for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, blend the mix until smooth.
- You can add apple juice, lemon juice, ginger, or honey to soften the bitterness.
- Strain the mixture using cheesecloth. Pick out any chunky pieces.
- Refrigerate the juice for at least 1 hour