Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or balsam pear, is commonly grown in tropical areas and used as a food as well as a medicine.
It belongs to the gourd family and has a warty texture. It tastes very bitter. In fact, it is the most bitter among all edible vegetables.
The pods can be light to dark green in color and have oblong or oval shapes with a pointed tip at the blossom end. The inner flesh is white with rough-edged seeds. The seeds turn red when ripe.
The nutritional value of this vegetable includes protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, folate, vitamins A, C and several B vitamins.
It also contains a good amount of dietary fiber and is low in calories. It also has linolenic acid (an essential, omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (an unsaturated fat).
Bitter melon is used in cooking for its bitter flavor, usually in stir-fries, soups and curries. You can even brew tea from the fruit, leaves and stems of the plant or drink bitter melon juice.
Steps to make bitter melon juice
- Wash 1 or 2 medium-size bitter melons under cold running water.
- Slice them down the center with a sharp knife, then scoop out the seeds and white flesh with a spoon.
- Cut the green flesh of the melon into small pieces.
- Soak the pieces in a glass of water for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Blend the soaked bitter pieces along with the water.
- Strain the juice to remove any solid pieces.
- Add honey, black pepper powder, lemon juice or ginger juice for taste.
Bitter melon helps control diabetes due to its blood glucose-lowering effect. It has three active substances with anti-diabetic properties, including charantin, vicine and polypeptide-p.
It helps increase pancreatic insulin secretion and prevents insulin resistance, making it beneficial for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, a 2,000 mg daily dose of bitter melon significantly reduced blood glucose levels among people with Type 2 diabetes. However, the hypoglycemic effect was less than that found with a 1,000 mg/day dose of metformin.
Drink ½ to 1 cup of bitter gourd juice on an empty stomach each morning.
You should also include one dish made with bitter gourd daily in your diet.
Note: Do not forget to take your diabetes medications as directed by your doctor. Also, keep monitoring your blood sugar level.
Bitter melon also works as a natural blood purifier. Impure blood can cause symptoms like constant headaches, allergies, fatigue and weakened immunity.
Bitter melon helps in cleansing or detoxifying impurities in the blood. This helps in the treatment of blood disorders like blood boils and itching due to toxemia. It even imparts a “glowing” effect on the skin and keeps the skin free from problems like acne, psoriasis and eczema.
Add a little lemon juice and honey to a glass of fresh bitter melon juice. Sip it slowly on an empty stomach daily for six months.
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