Love karela (bitter gourd) or hate it, but there are all the reasons for you to include this bitter-tasting veggie belonging to cruciferous family in your daily diet. Loaded with potassium, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and fiber, it is especially beneficial if you are suffering from health conditions like diabetes, asthma, constipation, cough, gout, skin disease or any kind of inflammation.
There are a variety of ways people in India prepare bitter gourd in their kitchens. One can have it in the form of dry sabzi cooked with onions and other spices or stuff it with spices and pickle to give it a tangy taste. Some people also like to prepare a bitter gourd curry.
A lot of people however prefer to consume bitter gourd juice for its several benefits from managing diabetes to losing weight. Karela or bitter gourd is known for its medicinal benefits since ancient times. It has antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammation, antivirus, and cholesterol lowering effects.
The health benefits of karela or bitter gourd are innumerable. Its fruit, stems, leaves and roots are used to treat ailments such as hyperlipidemia (lowering cholesterol and triglycerides), digestive disorders, microbial infections and menstrual problems.
“Bitter Gourd in India is used for multiple health benefits, especially for diabetic patients. It’s a vegetable known for rich sources of potassium, vitamin C, iron magnesium and fiber. It is loaded with a lot of health benefits that help in digestion. There are some studies that also show that it’s also help asthmatic patients and for chronic cough. Beside this, it helps in digestion and it’s good for the skin because bitter gourd contains vitamins and minerals,” says Zamurrud M. Patel RD, Chief Dietician, Global Hospitals, Mumbai.
Here are other health benefits of bitter gourd as per a study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):
Helps prevent viral diseases
With its powerful antiviral properties, bitter gourd can stimulate the immune system and activate the body’s natural killer cells to help fight off viruses such as white spot syndrome virus and human immunodeficiency virus.
Helps prevent cancer
Bitter melon also has anti-carcinogenic properties and can be used as a cytotoxic agent against many types of cancer. Studies also show that extract of bitter melon also helps in inhibition of breast cancer cell growth and can be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer.
Effective in controlling diabetes
Diabetes patients are advised to include bitter gourd in their daily diet for its several benefits. Its properties of lowering blood glucose level in diabetes patients have been backed by several scientific studies.
Can bitter gourd juice be harmful in some cases?
If not processed carefully, karela juice can have harmful effects also including stomach issues and vomiting. Besides pregnant women should not consume the juice without consultation with their doctor.
“The benefits and advantages of this vegetable can be lost depending upon how it is processed into juice. It also depends if the juice is prepared fresh or added with preservatives. The nutrient value of its juice also depends a lot on the temperature at it is preserved and hygienically processed. All these factors lead to the fact of it being harmful or not. If processed incorrectly, the juice can have harmful effects on health leading to stomach issues and vomiting. It is always advisable to intake any product or diet under proper medical supervision. Juices prepared under hygiene conditions will always be beneficial to one’s health. Bitter gourd juice also, prepared at home with correct process adds benefits and helps control blood sugar levels. It boosts your immune system and prevents constipation,” says Patel.
It is also advised to have the juice in moderation as excess of it can cause digestive issues. So, have your karela juice daily, but in moderation and only after consultation with your dietician.