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Bitter gourd (balsam pear/ bitter melon) is a young, tender, edible fruit-pod in the Momordica genus of climbing vines. Although its bitter taste might turn some people away, nonetheless, it truely can sweeten your health through virtue of its disease preventing and health promoting phytochemical compounds.
Botanically, balsam pears belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, in the genus; Momordica, and are member of the same family as squash, watermelon, cantaloupes, cucumber, etc, belongs to.
Bitter melon is one of traditional edible pod vegetables in many Asian countries. It is grown widely as a field crop as well as backyard vegetable and, in fact, is among the most bitter tasting of all culinary vegetables.
-Bitter melon is very low in calories, carrying just 17 calories per 100 g. Nevertheless, its pods are rich sources of phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants.
-Bitter melon notably contains phytonutrient, polypeptide-P, a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. Also, it composes hypoglycemic agent called Charantin. Charantin increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis inside the cells of the liver, muscle, and fatty (adipose) tissue. Together, these compounds may have been thought to be responsible for blood sugar levels reduction in the treatment of type-2 diabetes.
-Fresh pods are an excellent source of folates, carrying about 72 µg/100g (18% of RDA). Vitamin folate when taken by mothers during their early pregnancy time, would help reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
-Fresh bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin-C (100 grams of fresh pod provides 84 mg or about 140% of RDI). Vitamin-C is one of the powerful natural antioxidants which helps scavenge harmful free radicals from the human body.
-Further, it is an excellent source of health benefiting flavonoids such as β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. It also contains a good amount of vitamin-A. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging, cancers and various disease processes.
-Bitter melon stimulates smooth digestion and peristalsis of food through the bowel until it excreted from the body. Thus, it helps in relieving indigestion and constipation problems.
-Further, it has small amounts of B-complex vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
-Early laboratory tests suggest that certain phytochemical compounds in bitter melon might be effective in the treatment of HIV infection.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.17 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.80 g||7%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.212 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||471 IU||16%|
|Vitamin C||84 mg||140%|
500 Gram, 1 Kg, 1.5 Kg, 2 Kg