Updated date:

Health Benefits Of Karela - Bitter Gourd - Bitter Melon

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Latin Name ; Momordica charantia.

About Karela/Bitter Melon

In India, bitter melon is called Karela.

Bitter melon is also known as bitter gourd, or bitter squash and belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae in which the plants are vines.

Bitter melon originated in India, then spread to China and is now grown all over Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. It grows well in the tropical and subtropical areas.

The fruit is used as a vegetable and is extremely bitter. It has an extremely bumpy and uneven skin and is almost ugly looking. The fruit is eaten when green and mature. It turns yellow to orange when fully ripe with bright red seeds.

Traditionally bitter melon has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments particularly stomach ailments. It also has been used in herbal medicine by the people of Amazon, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Nicaragua.

Bitter melon is available in capsules and tincture forms. Fruit and seed extracts are also available in tablet and capsule forms. Whole vine powders and extracts in capsule and tincture form are available too.

When cooking the vegetable the bitterness of karela/bitter melons can be reduced to some extent by parboiling or soaking it in saltwater for about 10 minutes. The videos below show two ways bitter melon curry is cooked in India.

Dahi Wala Karela

Karela, Aloo & Pyaz Ki Sabzi

The Over Ripe Fruit

Active Compounds In Bitter Melon

Over 30 biologically active chemicals have been found in bitter melon including a variety of plant steroids, triterpenes and proteins.

Bitter Melon Nutritional Information

  • Low in calories, just 17 calories/100 gms.
  • Rich in phytonutrients and dietary fibre.
  • The plant insulin, polypeptide-P is a notable phytonutrient. It also contains Charatin - a hypoglycemic agent.
  • Excellent source of folates with 100 gms providing 18% of the daily requirement.
  • 100 gms provides 16% of daily Vitamin A and 140% of daily Vitamin C requirement.
  • Contains flavonoids like alpha-carotene, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Has good amounts of the B complex vitamins - niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine and the minerals, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium.

Bitter Melon Nutrition Information

 Bitter gourd or Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) 

 

fresh, raw, Nutritive value per 100 gms

 

 

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

 

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy

17 Kcal

<1%

Carbohydrates

3.70 g

3%

Protein

1.00 g

2%

Total Fat

0.17 g

0.50%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Dietary Fiber

2.80 g

7%

Vitamins

 

 

Folates

72 micro gm

18%

Niacin

0.400 mg

2.50%

Pantothenic acid

0.212 mg

4%

Pyridoxine

0.043 mg

3%

Riboflavin

0.040 mg

3%

Thiamin

0.040 mg

3.50%

Vitamin A

471 IU

16%

Vitamin C

84 mg

140%

Electrolytes

 

 

Sodium

5 mg

<1%

Potassium

296 mg

6%

Minerals

 

 

Calcium

19 mg

2%

Copper

0.034 mg

4%

Iron

0.43 mg

5%

Magnesium

17 mg

4%

Manganese

0.089 mg

4%

Zinc

0.80 mg

7%

Phyto-nutrients

 

 

Beta-Carotene

190 micro gm

--

Alpha-Carotene

185 micro gm

 

Lutein-zeaxanthin

170 micro gm

--

Health Benefits Of Karela

  1. It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral, anti-cancer properties.
  2. It reduces inflammation, cholesterol and blood sugar.
  3. The antioxidant vitamins A & C fight free radicals.
  4. The flavonoids delay ageing and have anti-cancer action.
  5. Stimulates and improves digestion, relieves indigestion and constipation.
  6. Detoxifies the liver and the body and builds immunity.
  7. Relieves skin and blood disorders.
  8. Alleviates respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis.
  9. Removes intestinal parasites.

Health Benefits Of Karela - Some Natural Remedies

  • For Kidney And Bladder Stones

Karela can break these stones and remove them via urine.

Drink the juice of 2 karelas/bitter melons daily. Also, eat a vegetable made of bitter melons.

  • For Asthma

Eat bitter melons daily.

  • For Gas & Weak Digestion

Eating bitter melons makes the digestive system stronger. You can also drink bitter melon juice.

  • In Cholera

Drink 1/4 cup of bitter melon juice mixed with equal quantity of water. Add salt to taste. Drink this often. It stops vomiting and diarrhoea too.

  • For Improving Liver Function

To keep liver in top condition, children from 3-8 years can be given 1/2 tsp bitter melon juice daily. It also tones up the stomach.

  • For Enlarged Liver And Ascites

Consume 50 ml bitter melon juice mixed in water daily.

  • For Diabetes

Take 15 ml bitter melon juice mixed in water 3 times a day for 3 months. Also, eat a bitter melon vegetable.

  • For Intestinal Worms

Drink 1/4 cup bitter melon juice.

  • As A Blood Purifier

Drink 60 ml bitter melon juice for a few days.

  • For Burning Sensation In Feet

Massage feet with juice of bitter melon leaves. Bitter lemon juice can also be used to massage with.

  • For Bleeding Piles

Drink 1 tsp bitter melon juice mixed with sugar.

  • For Non-Bleeding Piles

Drink 2 tbsp of bitter melon juice with a glass of buttermilk daily 3 times a day.

  • For Jaundice

Grind 1 bitter melon with water and drink this water in the morning and evening.

  • For Arthritis

Apply bitter melon juice on the affected joints. Also, eat bitter melon vegetable.
For joint pain, massage with the juice of bitter melon leaves.

  • For Constipation

Take 5-10 drops of the homoeopathic medicine, Momordica charanti Q ( mother tincture) four times a day.

Regular consumption of bitter melon supplies sufficient phosphorus to the body to keep energy levels up.

  • For Skin Ailments Like Psoriasis/Athlete's Foot

Eat bitter melon daily.

Precautions

It reduces fertility in both males and females. Hence, those undergoing treatment for fertility should avoid its consumption.

Breastfeeding women should avoid consuming bitter melon as the active chemicals are transferred in the milk.

Excess consumption can cause abdominal pain or diarrhoea.

Pregnant women should not consume bitter melon as it induces abortion by stimulating the uterine contractions.

Diabetics should be cautious about taking hypoglycemic drugs as bitter melon lowers blood sugar levels.

References

http://www.webmd.com

http://www.rain-tree.com/bitmelon.htm#.UREBRKWzeOw

http://bittermelon.org/heal/healthbenefits

http://www.juicing-for-health.com/bitter-gourd-benefits.html


Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Some Of My Other Hubs On Hubs On Healthy Foods

  • The Health Benefits Of Green Kale - The Leafy Vegetable
    Kale is a primitive leafy vegetable with numerous phytonutrients beneficial to health. To find out the health benefits of kale - the healthy vegetable that is among the top10 healthy vegetables' list, read on...
  • Brussels Sprouts Health Benefits
    Brussels Sprouts have the highest concentration of glucosinolates, among all cruciferous vegetables, which reduce risk to developing a variety of cancers. To know many more health benefits of Brussels Sprouts, read on...
  • The Benefits Of Mango
    Mango, the King Of Fruits, is a much liked fruit with each and every part of the mango tree being used for health purposes. To know more read on.....
  • Silverbeet, Swiss Chard Or Chard And Its Health Benefits
    Swiss chard, chard, silverbeet, mangold, spinach beet are some of the many names that swiss chard is known by. This green leafy vegetable is one of the most healthy vegetables available which is a valuable addition to a healthy diet. To know more abo
  • Some Amazing Health Benefits Of Beetroot Or Beet
    Beet, beetroot or garden beet is a super food that has a unique phytonutrients called betalains. Betalains are very useful for weight loss, cancer, diabetes, dementia, skin, high blood pressure, constipation etc. To know how you can benefit from cons

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Puteri on April 15, 2015:

Hi Rajan, my friend fasting blood sugar level was 5.8. Actually I have past knowledge of the many wonders Kerala/bitter melon has. So when the results came to be .3 higher, I decided to try this method out. I can only say WOW WOW WOW!! After taking only 4 days her blood sugar went down to 5.2. I think we will try this out for another 3 days and stop for awhile to try this again since I read on other websites that bitter melon cannot be on long term. Yes/No?? Any feedback from you or bloggers will be very much appreciated. By the way, does it also lower cholesterol? Any experience shared here will be great!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 25, 2013:

@Paul-I've never tried eating vegetables with meat. I've no idea what it would taste like. I appreciate your visit, comments and sharing.

@Rick-I know not many people like it. Thanks for stopping by.

@Kathryn-glad you like the info. I appreciate your visit and comments.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on April 23, 2013:

Very interesting. This is another plant I have never heard of. It's nice to hear all of the warnings about it, as well as the benefits and nutrition. Thanks for sharing this with us, Rajan.

Just call me, Rick from Asia, and all over on April 23, 2013:

rajan jolly. I'm very familiar with bitter melon, and hate it... haha. My wife tries to hid it in food, but I always know it's there. She echoes exactly what you say, it's very healthy for you, but like you said, it does take LOTS of time to adjust your tasted buds to. Voted up and useful.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 23, 2013:

rajan,

This is an another very interesting and useful hub. I first started eating bitter melon when I lived in Taiwan in the 1970s. It tasted delicious when it was stuffed with pork. I occasionally still eat it in Thailand. Little did I know that it has so many good health benefits. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 12, 2013:

Au fait, well I do hope you give this vegetable a try though the bitterness takes a while to get used to.

Thanks for the visit and comments.

C E Clark from North Texas on March 11, 2013:

Just finished reading about bitter melon in a hub by Peggy W, I think. So when I saw this one I decided I must see if I can learn more. Definitely sounds like something I should be eating! Between the 2 of you, I have indeed learned a lot about bitter melon and now I am as curious as one can be to try it. Have given you lots of up votes. Excellent hub!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 28, 2013:

Thanks Eddy, Always a pleasure to see you. Have a nice day.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 28, 2013:

Another great hub from you rajan;you really do have a great selection here. Enjoy your day.

Eddy.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 23, 2013:

Sangeeta, to a certain excess yes it does affect the water soluble vitamins. But if you like the slight bitterness you need not do this.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

sangeeta verma from Ludhiana India on February 22, 2013:

Voted up and sharing.

What I feel is soaking it in salt for sometime then wash with plenty of water to remove the bitter taste some nutrionale value too get washed away as most of the vitamins are water soluble , plz clarify my doubt.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 07, 2013:

@ Eiddwen - thanks for the vote up and sharing.

@ KerryAnita - thanks for stopping by.

KerryAnita from Satellite Beach, Florida on February 07, 2013:

This sounds like a very interesting fruit. It's amazing how it turns such a bright color when ripe. I'd love to try it sometime!

Eiddwen from Wales on February 07, 2013:

Interesting and useful .

I vote up,across and share all around.

Eddy.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 06, 2013:

Debbie, bitter melons/karela are available in the Asian produce section, if you'd like to try. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on February 06, 2013:

I don't think I have ever seen this fruit or vegetable.. but this is awesome information here...

thank you rajan

blessings

Sharing

Debbie

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 06, 2013:

@ Devika - thanks for reading.

@ Nithya - Absolutely and thanks for visiting.

@ Rasma - I do hope you do try it healthy vegetable. Thanks for the regular support.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 06, 2013:

Thanks for this interesting and informative hub. I believe we've got some products from India at the market here now so I'll look for it. Passing this on.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 06, 2013:

Karela can be really tasty if cooked properly and is very good for health. Great hub and thanks for sharing this information. Voted up.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 06, 2013:

Awesome! Bitter lemon is such a different kind of fruit, I heard fo this fruit but not as much as you written thanks for this information.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 05, 2013:

Peachpurple, bitter gourd is the same as karela. There are slight differences like color, size ans it may be somewhat less rough in different regions of the world but it has a rough uneven skin, just like a house lizard.

Thanks for reading.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 05, 2013:

In Malaysia, we have bitter gourd. Is it the same as karela? The picture looks different though. So many benefits in this not so nice looking melon. Great hub!!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 05, 2013:

@ Ruchira - Here in India, we have been used to eating this healthy vegetable regularly. Thanks for the votes and visit.

@ Carol - This vegetable should be available in the produce section. Thanks for the visit and appreciate the sharing.

@ Bill - thanks for the support and compliments, as always.

@ sid - Thank for reading and commenting.

sid76 on February 05, 2013:

Very informative hub rajan! Share & voted up!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 05, 2013:

I've never seen it or heard of it. Where do you get all of this interesting information? Well done once again; you are doing a great job in this niche.

carol stanley from Arizona on February 05, 2013:

I have never heard of this...I will check it out at the health food store. Thanks again for another healthy solutions ideas.. I am voting up and going to share this around.

Ruchira from United States on February 05, 2013:

Great review on this product. I love karela and after reading your benefits, I feel I should go and get it...since it has been a while since I made any.

Thanks for such interesting/useful hub.