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The Not-So-Bitter Benefits of Bitter Gourds

Bitter Gourd / Bitter Melon



Have you ever tried eating Bitter Gourd? Do you like its bitter taste? I know a lot of people do not like it because of its taste. I have always liked Bitter Gourd. In fact, it is my favorite vegetable. I can eat it either raw or cooked, and for me the bitter its taste, the better.

Bitter Gourd (others call it Bitter Melon) or Momordica charantia is a highly nutritious vegetable widely grown and cultivated mostly in China, Philippines, Taiwan , India, Thailand, Vietnam and in Africa. It is well known for its bitter taste and wrinkled skin. The fruit and the leaves are both edible and can be used for cooking. The fruit comes in two types, the elongated one and the smaller one. It is said to be an ally of people with diabetes as it is known to lower sugar levels. Its juice is also said to be good in purifying blood and it is effective in treating hypertension and constipation. Most kids may not like its bitter taste but it can help them fight dangerous diseases.

But putting aside its bitter taste, the Bitter Gourd is rich in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. It also contains vitamins A, C, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. It has very low calories so it is good for those who are on diet. Because of its many health benefits, Bitter Gourd was made into tablets, capsules and tea so that it will be easier for anyone to consume it.

Below are some of the health benefits of Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon:

  1. It can help treating headache by relieving stress and tensions that causes it.
  2. It helps in treating eye problems and improving eyesight because of its high in beta-carotene properties.
  3. It helps regulate blood sugar levels so it aids in bringing diabetes in control.
  4. It helps in lowering blood pressure thus preventing problems like stroke and heart attack. It helps to keep your heart healthy by preventing the arteries from getting clogged.
  5. Because of its fiber properties, Bitter Gourd helps in curing indigestion and constipation problems. It is also rich in antioxidants that can help speed up your metabolic rate.
  6. Bitter Gourd can help in cleaning the kidneys and in flushing out kidney stones.
  7. It also acts as a disinfectant and helps in healing minor burns and wounds.
  8. It also helps in cleaning the liver and replace lost or injured liver cells, thus it helps in boosting immunity.
  9. It helps fight obesity.
  10. It is also useful in treating fungal diseases like athlete’s foot and ringworms and other skin infections, and it is very good for the skin as it helps in getting rid of pimples and acne and gives you a clearer complexion.
  11. It helps protects you from osteoporosis.
  12. It slows down aging.
  13. Protection from Alzheimer
  14. The leaves have the capability to expel or destroy parasitic worms, being anthelmintic.
  15. The juice of the fresh leaves can be used as a mild purgative for children since it motivates the loosening of the bowels.

Bitter Gourd Plant in a Pot


Growing Bitter Gourd / Bitter Melon

Bitter Gourd is a vine plant and they are also easy to grow. They grow best in hot and humid climates or in sunny places. Sometimes we just throw the seeds into the ground and in a couple of days you will see a small plant coming out. But in growing Bitter Gourd, you will also need to build an overhead trellis for it to cling to and to prevent its fruits from resting on moist soil where they might rot. Here in the Philippines, when the fruits are starting to show, people wrap them in old newspapers to keep it from destructive pests and because they have a belief that the fruit grows bigger and faster if it is not seen by the human eye. The fruit shifts in color from green (sometimes dark and sometimes light) to yellow to orange as it ripens and over-ripens. The flesh has a watery, crunchy texture, similar to a cucumber.

Cooking Bitter Gourd

The Bitter Gourd can be cooked in many ways like stir-fried with ground beef and oyster sauce, sautéed with chicken or meat, or can be eaten raw together with onions, salted eggs and tomatoes, thus making it bitter gourd salad. In my house, it is always included in cooking Pinakbet together with string beans, eggplant, okra, tomato, and sweet potatoes or squash. For the leaves, it is sometimes added in sautéed mung beans or you can just boil it in water and dipped it in bagoong, a Filipino condiment made of fermented fish and salt, and calamansi. In order to lessen the bitterness of the fruit, we sometimes soak it in a bowl with water and salt, or squash the fruit with salt using our hands.

Here is one recipe of Bitter Gourd which is my favorite.



5 medium-sized ampalaya
1/4 pound pork
2 large tomato
2 small onion
5 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons of patis (fermented fish sauce)
5 tablespoons of oil
3/4 cup water
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoons monosodium glutamate

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Cut the bitter gourd lengthwise. Remove the seeds and slice crosswise thinly.
(The shape and size of the pieces often varies according to preference.)

In a skillet or frying pan, put a small amount of oil. Sauté onions, garlic, tomatoes, and pork (cut into small slices). Stir constantly.

Add the water, seasoned with patis and MSG.
When pork is done, add the bitter gourd.
When you think the bitter gourd is cooked according to your liking, add beaten eggs and stir once or twice before removing from the stove.

Serve hot with boiled rice.


Special Notice

Some people may have problems with Bitter Gourd as it can contain alkaloid substances. People who cannot tolerate the bitterness and toxicity of the Bitter Gourd may suffer from nausea, weakness of the muscles, diarrhea, excessive salivation, pain in the stomach, dimness of vision and redness in the face. It is advisable to soak the Bitter Gourd in water with salt for up to 10 minutes to reduce its toxicity and bitterness.


asereht1970 (author) from Philippines on August 03, 2021:

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. God bless..

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on August 03, 2021:

Thanks for sharing this, I do not think this is common in Yoruba land Nigeria where I live. But with the arrays of benefits it has I will try and look for this.

Good work.

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