Known also as bitter melon it is a nasty looking vegetable (It looks like a cucumber but bumpy and hideous) with a ferocious bitter taste. It can be grown, bought in a shop, bought as tinned or even as supplements.
The Pros of Bitter Gourd
Good vitamin C, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium content, low in sugar and fats.
2. Lowers blood sugar
It can be used to help control diabetes (it contains insulin like compounds that help how the body absorbs and metabolizes the sugar) but the dosage is unclear and should only be recommended by a doctor as overdosing can cause the nasty side effects listed below.
3. Can aid weight-loss
Many people use it to aid weight loss, due to it’s ability to help in the absorption of sugar and will prevent your body from absorbing excess sugar. Going hand in hand with it lowering your blood sugar and the knock on effect of losing weight ‘easier’.
4. It can be used to treat Piles
A paste made from the roots can be applied to the piles to help shrink them.
5. Aids digestion
Used carefully (in low doses) it can aid digestion and help relieve and prevent constipation.
6. Skin problems
It has been used to help treat skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, it also reduces the chances of having acne.
There may be use for it in the future for treating HIV. In a clinic trial it was show that it had health benefits to HIV sufferers. However there isn’t enough research to support this and more needs to be done before it can be recommended for us. A possibility for the future.
The Cons of Bitter Gourd
Some scientists claim that it can have anti-fertility effects. Studies in mice have found it blocks the fertilize egg hatching, reducing the blastocyst attachment.
2. Concerns about miscarriage
There are concerns that continuing to eat it into pregnancy could produce a miscarriage due to it bringing on menstruation. Doctors advise not to eat it at all during pregnancy due to a high risk of it causing uterine contractions.
3. Side effects
Eating too much or taking high dose supplements has nasty gastro side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea.
4. Toxic seeds
Avoid eating the seeds as these will cause abdominal pain and in extreme cases have induced comas, very rare though.
5. Medication interaction
As it lowers blood sugar levels naturally, anyone taking medication to reduce sugar levels should stay clear of it as it will exasperate the effects of the medication.
The red arils that surround the seeds are toxic to children, it is advised to avoid giving it to children all together.
7. Liver problems
Taking it in excess can increase your risk of liver inflammation due to it elevating liver enzymes, leading to atherosclerosis.