Bitter gourd , also called Momordica charantia (MC) or bitter melon , is a member of the cucerbitaceae family, a perennial climber and is characterized by warty-fruit like gourds or cucumbers.
The white to green unripe fruit changes to yellow as the fruit ripens.The fruit has a characteristic bitter taste, which becomes more pronounced as the fruit ripens.
The plant thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, including:
- South America
- Parts of Africa
- The Caribbean
Karela is a bitter melon with sweet consequences for health! What are the health benefits of consuming karela or bitter gourd?
- Results of animal and human studies show that the fruits, leaves and seed extracts of this plant possesses blood sugar lowering effects.
- Bitter melon/ bitter gourd/ karela has shown to be an emetic, a laxative, a tonic, and used to treat anaemia, arthritis, colds, fever, gout, infertility, kidney stones, peptic ulcers, and stomach ache
- It is also used as an antimalarial, together with related species, and as an abortifacient.
- In addition to hypoglycaemic activity, M.charantia has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-tumour, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity.
- Bitter melon fruit extract possesses antihyperglycemic, antioxidative, and cardioprotective properties which may be beneficial in the treatment of diabetic cardiac fibrosis (blockage of cardiac vessels associated with diabetes).
- The fruit, as well as the whole plant is believed to possess anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties
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Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.