Friday, 21 October 2016

Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd is also called as bitter squash or bitter melon and as the name says, it is hard bitter to taste. It is a tropical and subtropical vegetable. This most bitter vegetable bears its scientific name as Momordica charantia and is from the family called Cucurbitaceae. 

This is eaten or used when it is in green color. When they are green, they are used in the curries and stir fries. They are also used as replaces to hops as bettering ingredients in the beers. 

In North India, to offset the bitterness of them, it is prepared mixing with potato and yogurt is added to them. Here, it is also cooked in oil after they are stuffed with spices. In Maharashtra, these finely chopped bitter gourds are chopped and added with salt and then the bitterness is squeezed to the possible extent and fried with other ingredients spices and grated coconut.

Raw Bitter Gourd
In South India, it is prepared as a curry by mixing with grated coconut and the pickle made from it is treated as a medicine. They prepare curries with bitter melons along with peanuts after they have been deep fried. Special pagarkai pitla and kattu pagarkkai dishes are famous in Tamilnadu. Kottu pagarkkai is a curry prepared after it is stuffed with onions, grated coconut and fried in oil after it is tied firmly with the thread. 

There are many dished prepared in Bangladesh and Pakistan with bitter melons. These are added with salt, coriander, chilli and turmeric powders with little cumin seeds to cook. Sometimes they boil unpeeled bitter grounds and stuff them with cooked ground beef. It becomes a good side dish of naan, chapatti, tandoori bread and kichri. 

In Japan these are used as important ingredients in Okinawan cuisine. The dish called gagoda is famous in Indonesia. Other dishes are made by cooking it in coconut milk, steaming and stir fries. Slices of raw bitter gourds are taken with dried meat and its soup is taken with shrimp. 

In the Philippines, they are stir-fried mixed with ground beef and adding oyster sauce optionally adding tomato diced and egg. Pinakbet dish is famous here, which consists of bitter melons mainly with ora, string beans, eggplant, lima beans and tomato. 

Bitter gourds are widely grown in many places and so have got many local names for it. In Sanskrit, it is called as karaella and goya from Okinawa language. These vegetables are grown and cultivated in Asia, Caribbean and Africa. In Chinese, it is called kugua, parya in Indonesia, pavayka in kerala in South India, nigauri in Japan, kakara kaya in Andhra in South India and paakharkaai in Chennai in South India. 

Bitter Gourd Tree

These bitter gourd trees are grown for about five meters. When considering northern hemisphere, these trees are flowering during the months of June and July and they get fruited during the months from September to November. The leaves of these trees have three to seven lobes. Its flowers look in bright yellow. 

History of Bitter Gourd

The origin of bitter gourds is India and later had been spread to China long ago in 14th century. 

Bitter Gourd Description

This bitter melon looks in the shape of oblong and its exterior is distinct warty. It looks green when it’s raw and gradually changes its colour to yellow when it is overripe. It has tender and edible skin. The flesh inside is watery and crunchy. 

The seed is centrally placed and above this seed, the flesh is spread and covered. These seeds are in white color when it is raw and changes to a deep red after it is completely ripe. After they are ripe the pith will be sweet and can be directly eaten without cooking. This too ripe of pith is as an important ingredient, in the dish called Asian salads.

Varieties of Bitter Gourd Available

As it is grown in both tropical and sub tropical countries, there are a wide number of varieties available which differ basically in the shapes and quantity of bitterness of these fruits. There are two extreme shapes and external surface of them, which are grown in China and India. In between these two completely varied shapes and colors of them, are many other varieties existing. There are also miniature bitter melons, which are shorter than the traditional ones, are available in India, Nepal, South Asia and Pakistan.

Nutrients in Bitter Gourd

Though this is bitter and not pleasant enough to eat, many families do make them part of their regular dishes for its precious medicinal values. It has become part of herbal medicine in Africa and Asia. 

Importantly bitter gourds are contained with many biological active compounds. These major compounds are momordicin II, momordicin I, cucurbitacin B. The plant of them also has medicinal values and to specify them are many glycosides like momordin, momordicosides, charantin, goyaglycosides and charantosides etc. These plants also contain erpenoid compounds like momordicinin, momordicilin, momrdicin – 28, momordol and momordenol. The proteins contained in it are cytotoxic proteins like momordin and momorcharin.

Nutritional Value of Bitter Gourd

All Values are per 100gms
Water in Bitter Gourd
Protein in Bitter Gourd
Fat in Bitter Gourd
Minerals in Bitter Gourd
Crude Fiber in Bitter Gourd
Carbohydrates in Bitter Gourd
Energy in Bitter Gourd
Calcium in Bitter Gourd
Phosphorous in Bitter Gourd
Iron in Bitter Gourd

Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd

Bitter Gourd for ailments

Bitter melons have been used as fold remedy to cure many ailments, especially stomach complaints. It is in practice in Turkey. 

Bitter Gourd is anticancer

There are two important compounds called α-eleostearic acid and dihydroxy-α-eleostearic  which are extracted from seeds and fruits of bitter gourds are the best medicine for fighting against the causes of cancer. Especially, breast cancer is prevented from working against the cancer causing cells and stops its multiplication of the cells.

Bitter Gourd is Antithelmintic

Diseases related to gastrointestinal could be well treated with bitter melon, and is widely in use as a part of folk medicine in Togo. 

Bitter Gourd Cures Malaria

In Asia, bitter gourds are used to treat as well as to prevent malaria. The same is treated in Panama and Columbia also by adding these leaves into tea. Boiled and stir-fried bitter gourds with onions and garlic are traditionally popular to prevent malaria. 

Bitter Gourd as Antiviral

Viral diseases like measles and chicken pox are cured with them and are traditionally in practice in Togo. 

Bitter Gourd Treats HIV Infections

Laboratory tests show that usage of these bitter melons can be used to treat the infections of HIV and slow down this infection in the people. The negative effects of anti-HIV drugs could be offset with these bitter melons.

Bitter Gourd in Indian Languages

Indian Language
Local Name
Bitter Gourd in Bengali
Bitter Gourd in Oriya
Bitter Gourd in Guajarati
Bitter Gourd in Hindi
Bitter Gourd in Punjabi
Bitter Gourd in Kannada
Hagal Kai
Bitter Gourd in Malayalam
Bitter Gourd in Marathi
Bitter Gourd in Tamil
Bitter Gourd in Telugu
Kakara kayi

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