Remember the times when our mothers literally ran after us as kids? All so that we could ingest our share of bitter concoctions that were good for our health? With time and age, we have become health conscious ourselves, and realised that those potions that we avoided drinking as kids are indeed good for us. Bitter gourd is one such vegetable that had numerous benefits and was made in various forms by our mothers. While we may have made faces at that point in time, it’s time we acknowledge the existence of bitter gourd benefits. And trust us when we say, there are many. Bitter gourd is amazing when it comes to giving your skin the requisite nourishment, even if it is not the most palatable to taste. But we can fix that as well with a few recipes.
In this article, we are going to reveal all the bitter gourd benefits that you may have known but ignored, because face it, you did not want to eat it. Let’s delve into the goodness of this food that has been a part of our lives since childhood.
- What is the nutritional value of bitter gourd?
- What are the benefits of bitter gourd?
- How to consume bitter gourd to avail its benefits?
- What are the precautions to take while having bitter gourd?
What is the nutritional value of bitter gourd?
Before we delve into the bitter gourd benefits, we think it’s best that you know a few facts and figures about its nutritional value. Following are some of the many nutritional benefits it has:
- Bitter gourd, also known as karela, is quite low in calories
- Bitter gourd is rich in vitamin A and C
- It is also full of antioxidants, zinc, and potassium
What are the benefits of bitter gourd?
If the above facts are not enough to convince you, what if we tell you that consuming and drinking various forms of bitter gourd could give you healthy skin and hair, along with health? Yes. Let us take you through them one by one.
1. Helps prevent dandruff
Bitter gourd is amazing at preventing hair issues such as dandruff, ringworm and even psoriasis and other forms of itching that may affect hair health. It is rich in vitamin A and C which helps amp up hair health.
2. Fights acne
The presence of vitamin C in bitter gourd is extremely good for the skin. This helps fight acne and clears up blemishes, giving you clean and clear skin.
3. Cleanses liver
Bitter gourd is also a great detoxifying agent. And thus it is quite beneficial for the liver. It also boosts the enzymes therein and also improves gut health and overall digestive health.
4. Combats cancer
Bitter gourd is known to fight free radical damage that causes cancer. It boosts immunity and is also instrumental in fighting infections. It is also effective in taking care of allergies. It is especially effective in curbing the proliferation of cancerous cells, particularly in the case of prostate or breast cancer, and also stops the growth of tumours.
5. Helps manage weight
Do you want to cut down on weight and that too quickly? Let bitter gourd come to your rescue. As mentioned earlier, it is super rich in fiber and quite low when it comes to calories. It helps manage weight quite effectively. Further, the antioxidants present in bitter gourd help cut down the excess fat present in the body.
6. Perks up body’s energy levels
Studies have proved that continuous consumption of bitter gourd juice helps increase the body's energy levels. It is also instrumental in regulating the sleep cycle and even cures problems such as insomnia.
7. Purifies blood
The antioxidants present in karela or bitter gourd help purify blood and get rid of any toxins therein. This further helps in making the skin and hair look amazing.
8. Heals wounds
Regular consumption of bitter gourd controls the blood flow. It also helps blood clot faster, thus helping heal wounds in a better manner. When the wound heals well, there are lesser chances of infection as well.
9. Strengthens vision
Vitamin A benefits the eyes in many ways. It helps sharpen the eyesight. Not only that, but it also helps reduce dark circles. Bitter gourd is an extremely rich source of vitamin A and does both these things. If you want good vision with beautiful eyes to match, bitter gourd is what you should consume.
10. Improves heart health
There are two types of cholesterol; good and bad. Bitter gourd, when consumed on a regular basis, is known to reduce bad cholesterol, thus improving heart health and reducing the chance of having heart complications.
11. Cools down the body
Karela is composed of almost 92% water and is rich in fiber. As a result, it helps cool down the body and also helps in keeping it hydrated. This further helps in keeping the digestive system working smoothly and efficiently. It also helps in flushing out toxins from the body, thus keeping the skin radiant and hair healthy.
12. Treats UTIs
Bottle gourd is diuretic in nature. This means it increases the urinating frequency which helps flush the bad bacteria and toxins from the body. This helps prevent the risk of having UTIs or urinary tract infections which are quite commonly seen.
13. Makes bones stronger
Consuming bottle gourd juice regularly reduces the chances of having osteoporosis which is a condition where bones become brittle. Bottle gourd or karela reverses this condition by strengthening the bones, due to its rich content in magnesium, potassium and other such minerals.
14. Prevents premature ageing
Another major benefit of bottle gourd is that it prevents premature ageing. Various external factors like pollution and internal factors such as stress and anxiety often affect our skin adversely. The biggest effect is premature ageing. Drinking bottle gourd juice on a daily basis prevents the risk of premature ageing and fine lines.
15. Promotes hair growth
Bottle gourd contains various minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that contribute towards promoting hair growth. It also makes the hair shinier. It prevents hair fall, thus making hair thicker and more luscious.
How to consume bitter gourd to avail its benefits?
Even though bitter gourd in itself is beneficial for health, hair and skin, the way you consume it also matters. There are certain ways in which karela should be consumed to maximise its goodness. Here are a few:
- You can cook it as an assorting bhaji to eat with your meal
- Bitter gourd juice every day in the morning is a cleansing exercise for the body
- Karela chips made out of thin bottle gourd slices are also a healthy snack
- Another way to consume is by creating a stuffing out of it which can be put in sandwiches
What are the precautions to take while having bitter gourd?
Bitter gourd or karela benefits are many. But that does not mean that you consume it without precautions and in excess. There are certain things that you should keep in mind while eating it.
- Do not eat the seeds as it can lead to an upset stomach
- Avoid eating it during pregnancy (or as advised by the doctor)
- If you have high levels of sugar, consult your doctor before consumption