Bitter gourds

Bitter gourds

An Introduction
Nature has gifted incredible qualities in certain species. Bitter gourds or bitter melons are one of such species which contain innumerable health benefits and healing properties. Scientifically termed as momordica charantia, it is an edible fruit of tropical and subtropical vine of the family cucurbitaceae. The family also includes other trailing or climbing plants like pumpkin, squash, cucumber, etc. A native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, bitter gourds are widely grown in South and Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean.

This bitter edible fruit has been used for innumerable purposes by many cultures of the world. It is one

of the most popular vegetables in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, India and the Philippines. The plant is grown mainly for its bitter fruits although the young leaves and tips are edible too. They are widely believed to be among the first cultivated plants of the world.

Plant Description
Bitter gourds is a warm season plant and thrives in hot and humid climate. A well drained fertile soil, enriched with organic matter with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.7, is suitable for obtaining maximum production. It bears simple, alternate leaves 4-12 cm across, with 3-7 deeply separated lobes. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. The fruit has a distinct warty looking exterior and an oblong shape.

Culinary Uses
A bowl of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, bitter gourd possess innumerable health benefits and

healing properties. In almost every portion of the world, this bitter vegetable is consumed in one form or another. In India, it is cooked in combination with other vegetables like potato, etc. When it is fried with onion and chili, the bitterness of gourd mixes with the sweetness of onion to give a distinctive taste and delicacy. In Chinese cooking, it is used for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also as tea.

Bitter gourd or bitter melon, occupies a prominent position in Indian cuisines. Everywhere, it is cooked in combination with other vegetable. Bitter melon is stuffed with spices and then fried in oil, which is very popular in Punjabi Cuisine.

Bitter Gourds…..A Powerhouse of Nutrients
For centuries, bitter gourd has been widely used as a natural remedy for many health complexions. Its properties are antidotal, antipyretic tonic, appetizing, stomachic, antibilious and laxative. It contains higher concentrations of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, phosphorus and carbohydrates. This vegetable is a panacea medicine for the diabetes. The rich concentrations of Vitamin A, B1, B2, C and Iron provide relief in many health complexions including eye complications, neuritis, hypertension and defective metabolism of carbohydrates. It helps in purifying blood tissues as well as in enhancing digestive system.

Bitter gourds provides relief in the following:

  • Diabetes: Bitter gourds contains hypoglycaemic or insulin-like principle which is helpful in reducing the blood sugar level. The presence of this matter also helps in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels.
  • Piles: The juice of fresh leaves of bitter gourd is valuable in piles. When its root paste is applied over piles, it shows impressive results.
  • Blood Disorders: In various blood diseases like blood boils, scabies, itching, psoriasis, ring-worm and other fungal diseases, the juice of bitter gourd and lime quite beneficial. Its regular use in endemic regions of leprosy acts as a preventive medicine.
  • Cholera: The consumption of bitter gourds leaves is also an effective medicine in early stages of cholera and other types of diarrhoea during summer.
  • Alcoholism: The leaf juice is also beneficial in the treatment of alcoholism. Regular consumption of the bitter gourds strengthens the functioning of the lever.