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Undoubtedly, Bitter Gourd tops the list when it comes to not-so-popular picks among veggies. Despite its bright green colour, it’s bitter and pungent taste makes even the taste buds repulsive and this is what makes Bitter Gourd (popularly known as Karela ) the least favourite of many across the world.
In spite of this, Bitter Gourd or Karela has always managed to stay as an indispensable vegetable when it comes to Indian Cuisines. Over the years, we might have turned down Karela several times but it always has been the top pick for our mothers and grandmothers due to its amazing health benefits. Particularly, "the goodness of Karela" is the reason why it has been declared as a healthy vegetable in an Indian household.
Insights of this blog are :-
• Bitter Gourd: What It Is?
• Health Benefits of Karela: Why Should We Include It In Our Daily Diet?
• Different Forms of Consuming Karela
• A Small Advice Before You Start Consuming
• The Bottom Line
Known by different names such as Bitter Gourd, Bitter Melon, Karela etc. it is a vegetable which is bright green in colour but has a bitter and pungent taste. Bitter Gourd grows on a tendril vine and the leaves possess a threadlike shape which can grow up to 16 feet. Several biologists believe that the origins of Bitter Gourd was in Kerala and later introduced to China in the 14th century. Inside the seed cavity of Karela, flat seeds and little amount of flesh can be found. They are harvested while they are green in colour and as they turn yellowish, they lose their bitterness. Today, Karela is available in both large and small sizes in India and is considered as a powerhouse due to a variety of nutrient content it has.
Despite being turned down for its bitter and pungent taste, Bitter Gourd or Karela has managed to stay as an indispensable vegetable owing to its amazing health benefits. Let’s take a look below, to know how good Karela is for our health and why it is important for us to be friends with it.
Bitter Gourd has a variety of key nutrients. It is specifically rich in Vitamin C which helps in preventing diseases, the formation of bones and healing wounds. It is also high in Vitamin A which promotes healthy skin and proper vision. It also provides folate, along with small amounts of Zinc, Potassium and Iron which is essential for growth and development. It is also a good source of antioxidants such as catechin, gallic acid, epicatechin, and chlorogenic acid that can help in preventing cell damage.
As per studies, a cup of raw Bitter Melon contains:-
• Calories: 20
• Carbs: 4 grams
• Fibre: 2 grams
• Vitamin C: 93% of the RDI
• Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
• Folate: 17 % of the RDI
• Potassium: 8% of the RDI
• Zinc: 5% of the RDI
• Iron: 4% of the RDI
Despite being low in calories, Bitter Gourd is high in fibre. A cup of raw Bitter Melon can easily fulfil an individual’s daily requirement of fibre.
Thankfully, Bitter Melon or Karela also has potent medicinal properties which are used to treat various diabetic conditions. It further, improves the way sugar is used in our body and also promotes the secretion of insulin, the hormone which is responsible for regulating the blood sugar levels in the body.
Test tube studies have also suggested that Bitter Melon or Karela can be helpful in preventing and fighting Stomach, Colon, Breast, Nasopharynx and Lung cancer cells. It also contains several antioxidant compounds which can help in preventing cell damage as well.
High cholesterol can lead to the formation of fatty plaque in the arteries, thereby forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood. Thus, bringing down Cholesterol Levels is highly important for heart health. The studies on rats have suggested that Bitter Gourd can actually reduce Cholesterol Levels in the body thereby promoting heart health.
Bitter Gourd is low on calories, yet high on fibre thus can prove to be helpful in reducing body weight. Therefore, swapping higher calorie diet with fibre can prove to be helpful as fibre passes through the digestive tract slowly, thus keeping you full for longer and reducing your hunger and appetite. Animal and human studies have also suggested that Bitter Gourd can actually prove to be beneficial in burning fat and reducing weight.
Bitter Gourd is easy to prepare and has a sharp flavour that works well with many dishes. Thanks to its versatility, Bitter Gourd or Karela can be used in many different dishes and cuisines.
Although it is never going to be our top pick among vegetables, we need to find ways to be friends with it to avail all the health benefits that this bright green supper bitter vegetable has to offer. Let’s take a look at ways to including it in our diet :-
• In the form of Juice - Mixing up Bitter Gourd along with some other fruits and vegetables can actually be the way we could add a nutrient-packed beverage into our diet.
People also drink just Karela juice, which is perfect for weight loss, controlling blood pressure and for glowing skin.
• By mixing it up along with other vegetables - You can actually mix some Bitter Gourd into your next stir-fry to bump out all the health benefits out of it.
• While garnishing and dressing salad - You can actually use seedless Bitter Gourd to dress and garnish a savoury salad next time.
• In the form of a pickle - If you love to eat pickles, you can surely try a Bitter Gourd pickle. This might be the easiest way to avail the health benefits along with calming the cravings for pickle.
This green bitter vegetable is an easy way to include nutrients and proteins in your diet.
Undoubtedly, Bitter Gourd or Karela has so many health benefits to offer if we include it in our diet our body get benefited in multiple ways. However, consuming high amounts of Bitter Gourd can have adverse effects which one needs to keep in mind. Listed below are some of the key points you must take a look at before you begin :
• Particularly in some cases, consuming Bitter Gourd can lead to Diarrhoea, Vomiting and Stomach pain. So consult your doctor if you have a medical condition.
• Also, pregnant women are not advised to consume Bitter Gourd or Karela as it’s long term results on health has yet not been extensively studied.
• Individuals who are taking medications for lowering blood sugar must talk to their respective doctor before including Bitter Gourd in their diet.
• Also, it is advised to talk to your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions or are undertaking any medications before you decide to supplement Bitter Gourd for your health.
Despite it’s bitter and pungent taste, Bitter Gourd has found its way into kitchen owing to its health benefits. This supper bitter vegetable has so much to offer to our health if we include moderate amounts of it to our diet. Wrapping it up, all I would say is "all that doesn’t taste well, are actually healthy for our body and health” and that should be what you should be thinking when you are served Bitter Gourd the next time.