Bitter Melon aka balsam-pear is a tropical vine from the family Cucurbitaceae. As the name suggests, it has a tart taste and is probably among the most bitter herbs. Momordica charantia is the scientific name of bitter melon. Some other names of bitter melon in other languages are karela, korola and Pavakka.
This herbaceous perennial vine is about 5m long. Warm and sunny atmosphere is suitable for its good growth. Bitter melon or bitter gourd is cylindrical in shape and green in colour. It also has seeds inside it.
This bitter herb is used all over the world in several medications due to its nutritional value. The leaves and fruits of this herb are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins A, B6, C, minerals like magnesium, potassium and other nutrients like folate, riboflavin etc. It also contains more than 30 active chemicals for the body. Individuals consume this herb and include it in their daily life as juices, supplements, tablets and powder. The nutritious value defeats the bitter taste of this herb.
Benefits of Bitter Melon
- Normalizes Blood Sugar Level: Bitter melon is rich in anti-diabetic properties due to the presence of compounds like charantin, vicine and polypeptide-p. These compounds stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin and insulin receptors. It is a natural herb for treating deadly diseases like diabetes.
- Liver Health: Liver problems can be controlled with the regular consumption of bitter melon extracts. The hepatic properties of bitter melon enhance liver health. The bitter fruit helps in regeneration of liver cells. The smooth functioning of liver results in flushing out of body toxins, cleansing of blood impurities and reduction of digestive problems.
- Protects from Cancer: Bitter melon can protect the body against cancer. It prevents the splitting and formation of cancer cells in the body. The anti-cancer properties of bitter lemon hinder the growth of cancer cells. Thus, it protects the body from several types of cancers like brain cancer, breast cancer etc.
- Benefits to Skin: Vitamin A and C are true friends of our skin. Foods rich in these vitamins can alter the quality of skin to a great extent. Bitter melon is a major source of these vitamins. It protects the skin against infections, allergies and signs of ageing. The powerful anti-oxidants present in it contribute greatly towards good skin.
- Good for Eyes: Beta-carotene and vitamin A are responsible for good health of eyes. Bitter melon is a storehouse of beta-carotene and vitamin A which makes it immensely useful for the eyes. It protects the eyes against diseases and improves eyesight.
- Lowers Bad Cholesterol: The bitter tasting herb is highly rich in potassium and also absorbs any excess of sodium in the body. The phytonutrients present in bitter melon increases the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL). This helps in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) of the body which further reduces the risk of heart attacks.
- Helps in Weight Loss: Bitter melons are low in calories and fats and its consumption doesn’t result in weight gain. Instead, it helps in reducing body fat by slowing down the formation of new fat cells. Thus, it ultimately helps in weight loss.