- Food and Cooking
The Top 10 Health Benefits of Bitter Melons (Karela, Ampalaya)
What Are Bitter Melons?
The bitter melon is also known as karela, ampalaya, or Momordica charanti. While many people consider it an herb or a vegetable, bitter melons are technically fruits because they contain seeds (the name "melon" makes this easy to remember). Bitter melons have similar nutrients to dandelions and are beneficial for health. They are used in some continents like Asia, South America, and Africa to help control blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy system. Additionally, the Chinese used this fruit as part of their daily diet to “clean” their system.
Both high and low blood sugar can lead to many issues. Diabetes is probably one of the biggest issues from high blood sugar, and the condition can lead to other issues. Diabetes can sometimes be prevented by eating right and exercising; since it is a lifelong condition, every step possible should be taken to prevent it. There are numerous ways to slowly bring your sugar level back to normal, and all it takes is some dedication.
What Makes a Bitter Melon Special?
Bitter melons are an excellent source of nutrients. They have:
- Twice the calcium of spinach
- Twice the potassium of banana
- Twice the beta-carotene of broccoli
As well as more of the following vitamins and minerals than most vegetables or fruits:
- Folic acid
- Steroidal saponins
- Vitamins C, B1, B2, and B3
Think of it like this: Eating one bitter melon daily along with every meal will vastly improve your nutrition! Keep it up for about two months, and you can potentially decrease your risk of diabetes.
As you can probably guess from the name of this fruit, bitter melons are an acquired taste. Luckily, there are many recipes for cooking bitter melons and reducing their bitterness. One way to make them more palatable is to remove the seeds, cut the remaining fruit thinly, then salt it evenly. Let the salted slices sit for about 30 minutes, then squeeze out the liquid and rinse them out.
How to Reduce the Bitter Taste
What Are Benefits of Eating This Fruit?
Since there are way too many benefits of eating bitter melon, let’s take a look at the more important ones such as:
Top 10 Reasons (There Are More)
- Reduces the risk of diabetes—One of every 10 adults suffers from this disease, and it’s becoming a bigger problem every day. One way this fruit can help is by regulating blood sugar levels. High blood sugar is not a good sign, and most doctors will prescribe medicine to lower it. And what happens when you are all out of meds? You go and get more. This is only prolonging the problem. Controlling blood sugar level through diet is much less invasive. Also, insulin receptors can become ineffective; when they do, they are called down-regulated insulin receptors. Regular consumption of bitter melons can help reverse the insulin resistance effect. Bitter melon helps diabetics treat insulin resistance without medication. This is an important role in prevention and treatment of Type II diabetes, also known as insulin-independent diabetes. This can also prevent further diabetic complications that are caused by chronically high sugar concentrations, such as blindness, kidney diseases, strokes, heart attacks, and diabetic feet. Eating bitter melons, drinking their extract, or even taking them in pill form can reverse the effectives of diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of cancer—Eating or drinking the juice from the melon can lower the risk of certain types of cancer. It is also known to decrease and kill leukemic cancer cells, according to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. It can stop cancer cells from spreading and increase chances of a full recovery. But the diet must be consistent for this to be in an effective way to treat this disease. Otherwise, it will not work.
- Reduces the risk of AIDS/HIV—This disease is becoming a widespread issue. Bitter melon glycoprotein beta-momorcharin helps inhibit synthesis of macromolecules in splenocytes, embryos, and tumor cells. This protein also retards the effects of HIV by using the protein to deactivate the ribosome function in HIV-infected cells. It stops protein synthesis in those cells and eventually kills the cells which are infected.
- Provides antioxidants—Antioxidants help protect us from free radical damage. Free radicals can come from common natural environmental toxins as well as pollution, smoking, and normal metabolism byproducts. They have been proven to boost the immune system.
- Relieves asthma—Positive results have come back from patients suffering from a chronic cough who add bitter melon to their diets. The bitter melon helps release sputum accumulated within the respiratory tract and lungs. Many who have used bitter melon extract or eaten it regularly believe that it helps relieve asthma.
- Soothes skin—Do you have acne or wrinkled skin? The chemical or serum in bitter melons has been known to be used for acne and wrinkles. Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties can also aid in acne issues.
- Aids digestion—Helps with digestion of food by producing digestive enzymes.
- Aids in weight loss—This low-calorie and low-carbohydrate fruit will help with dieting and also strengthen your immunity.
- Promotes healing of injuries and wounds—It helps with controlling the blood flow to help heal wounds faster and prevent infection.
- Relieves constipation—It works wonders on constipation without causing diarrhea.
Potential Side Effects
Bitter melons have many benefits, but they also come with a few side effects. For example:
- When pregnant, it is important not to eat bitter melon nor its supplements. They can cause an unwanted abortion. The chances are low, but why risk something that can be avoided.
- If you are hypoglycemic, do not use bitter melon supplements. Eating the fruit is fine in reasonable portions.
- Too much bitter melon or bitter melon supplement can cause stomach pain and diarrhea.
It's always important to know the potential side effects of any part of your diet. The main risk is with supplements because they are so concentrated, and it is possible to take a much larger dosage than when eating the fruit itself. Bitter melons are widely consumed fruit in some countries, especially in Asia, and do not carry much risk.
Thanks for checking this out—please comment.
© 2012 Dave Rogers