Bitter gourd, also called, bitter melon is a tropical vine vegetable that is a member of the gourd family. It is very closely related to more popular gourds like, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and zucchini. It is a regular part of SE Asian and African cuisine. While it is eaten frequently, it is definitely an acquired taste, as the bitter gourd lives up to its name. But if you can get past the taste, or learn to live with it you will receive some marvelous health benefits:
Bitter Gourd Reduces Blood Sugar
Bitter gourd has been used by various populations as a natural treatment for diabetic related conditions. The fruit improves how sugar is utilized in your tissues. It also promotes insulin secretion which helps to further regulate blood glucose levels.
Bitter Gourd Has Cancer Fighting Properties
Studies done on bitter melon have provided evidence that the fruit kills cancer cells. The studies used bitter gourd extract which killed cancer cells in the colon, stomach, nasopharynx, and lungs. It should be noted though, that the studies used concentrated amounts of bitter melon extract on individual cells in a laboratory setting.
Bitter Gourd Decreases Cholesterol Levels
Bitter melon has also been shown to decrease cholesterol levels which can significantly improve the health of your heart. So far, the research in to how bitter melon effects blood cholesterol has only been tested on animals. Further testing on humans is needed before any ultimate conclusions can be made.
Potential Side Effects
Bitter melon is very good to eat in moderation. If you consume excessive amounts of bitter melon, you may experience unwelcome side effects, such as, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. It is also not necessarily good for pregnant women due to its impact on blood sugar.