The Health Benefits of the Bottle Gourd and its Juice
A Brief History and Description of the Bottle Gourd
You may hate it or you may love it but you just can't ignore this very commonly used Indian summer vegetable. Yes, it is the bottle gourd. Although it is believed to have originated in Africa, there are probably very few Indians who have not tasted this very nutritious, cooling, and easily digestible vegetable. While it is quite commonly used during the Indian summer season, it's only recently that researchers have realized the medicinal and health benefits of the bottle gourd and its juice.
Known as lauki, ghia or doodhi in India, this vegetable easily grows in warm and humid climate. This is why it is found mostly in tropical regions such as India and Sri Lanka. Its botanical name is Lageneria vulgaris and it is yellowish green in color and shaped like a bottle; hence the name 'bottle gourd'. The pulp of the vegetable is white in color and there are bottle-shaped seeds embedded in it. While traditionally the bottle gourd juice has been used to treat various bodily disorders, only recently has it gained popularity as a means to cure various health conditions.
The Health Benefits of the Bottle Gourd and its Juice
While the vegetable may be quite bland and tasteless, it surely does have many health and medicinal benefits. Here is a brief look at some of the health benefits of this vegetable.
Good for Digestion
The bottle gourd is quite easy to digest. It has a cooling and diuretic effect and has been found to prevent digestive disorders such as constipation, flatulence and piles. If you commonly suffer from digestive disorders such as acidity, indigestion, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, this vegetable may especially be useful for you.
Lose Weight with the Bottle Gourd
Composed of 96% water, this vegetable is especially useful for people trying to lose weight. Just 12 calories per 100 gm serving makes this vegetable quite ideal for people trying to stick to a low calorie diet. A glass of bottle gourd juice will help control hunger pangs and also help lose weight. It is also low in fat, another reason to go for this very nutritious vegetable.
While it is low in calories and fat and high in water content, the vegetable is quite rich in nutrients such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and dietary fibers. It is also a rich source of thiamine and vitamins.
Bottle Gourd Juice for Urinary Disorders
The highly acidic nature of urine can cause burning sensations in the urinary tract in some people. This is where the juice of the bottle gourd can really be useful. Take a glass of bottle juice mixed with lime juice to reduce this burning sensation in the urinary passage.
Good for Hypertension and Heart Disease
One of the reasons why the bottle gourd juice has suddenly gained popularity is its effects on blood pressure. People have reported a reduction in the high levels of their blood pressure with the regular intake of bottle gourd juice. So, if you have hypertension or heart disease, you may consider taking one glass of bottle gourd juice every morning.
A Very Good Thirst Quencher
While you can always eat the cooked vegetable to reduce the effects of the hot summer months, its juice is especially valuable as a thirst quencher. The juice can be taken with a pinch of salt as a thirst quencher, especially if you are suffering from diarrhea or are about to go out in the heat.
Good for the Skin and Hair
While it will not turn your grey hair black, the bottle gourd juice is believed to prevent premature greying of hair. It is, in fact, considered to be quite effective for preventing baldness as well. The vegetable is also known for its healthy effect on the skin. Its high moisture and vitamin content may help reduce acne and give you a healthy and younger looking skin.
Other health benefits of lauki and its juice
The bottle gourd and its juice are believed to be a nerve tonic and may be useful in treating epilepsy and nerve disorders. The juice may also be useful for people who suffer from insomnia. Diabetes is another health condition that may benefit from this vegetable.
How to Include the Bottle Gourd in your Diet
There are quite a few recipes that you can use to cook your bottle gourd. Probably the easiest ways to enjoy its health benefits is to peel the vegetable, julienne it, and steam it lightly. Once done, it can be added to a bowl of low-fat yogurt. This is a very good recipe to combat the negative effects of a hot and humid weather.
How to Make Bottle Gourd Juice
It is quite easy to make bottle gourd juice. You simply need to peel the vegetable and chop it into small pieces. This is then dropped into the juicer. You can add salt or pepper powder to add some taste since the vegetable itself is quite tasteless and bland.
One glass of the bottle gourd juice everyday in the morning will provide you with ample amounts of energy for the day as well as keep you healthy for a lifetime.
Side Effects of Bottle Gourd Juice
So, if you are impressed with the health benefits of the bottle gourd and its juice, do not forget to include this as part of your diet. However, if you are trying to consume the juice of the bottle gourd for its medicinal uses, make sure to consult your physician. This is especially necessary if you are on some kind of medication for any chronic health conditions.
Also, before making your juice, ensure that the bottle gourd is not bitter. Bitter bottle gourd can be poisonous since it may be high in tetracyclic triterpenoid cucurbitacins compounds. These substances can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea after the consumption of juice made from bitter bottle gourd. If you altogether want to avoid these side-effects, try boiling it slightly.
In short, exercise a little bit of caution if you are on medications. Otherwise, the bottle gourd is quite a useful vegetable. So, consume the vegetable in the form of juice or in the form of cooked vegetables.
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