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5 Good Reasons You Should Add Bitter Melon To Your Plate Today

posted on 7/21/2016 Facebook Facebook

Known by various names—bitter gourd, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, karela, or balsam pear across the world, bitter melon is a vine-grown fruit/vegetable that grows in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, South America, East Africa, and the Caribbean.

Botanically belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, bitter melon has long been used as an herbal remedy to treat a host of ailments. The name is well deserved as it is one of the bitterest fruits available. The benefits of the fruit are found in the flesh, which has the consistency of cucumber or a pepper. Bitter melon is very low in calories, carrying just 17 calories per 100 g and its pods are a rich source of phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Here we explore the many health benefits of bitter melon which will definitely persuade you to add this bitter fruit to your plate. 

1.Protects Against Type II Diabetes 
One of the most potent fruits for type II diabetes, bitter melon is rich in three active phytonutrients—vicine, polypeptide-P, and charantin which help improve how your body absorbs and metabolizes sugar and aids in proper blood sugar regulation. Polypeptide-P mimics the action of insulin to lower the blood sugar levels while charantin increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis inside the cells of liver, muscle and adipose tissue. 

2.Maintains Immune Health
Fresh bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin C—one of the powerful natural antioxidants which help scavenge deleterious free radicals from the human body. In addition, it is a moderate source 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 which are all crucial for a healthy immune system. 

3.Protects From Cancer
Abundant in antioxidants that seek and destroy free radicals, bitter melon is also known to protect from cancer. Preliminary studies have shown correlations between eating bitter melon and protection against cervical, pancreatic, prostate and breast cancer. The anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor properties of bitter melon can also be attributed partly to its ability to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells. 

4.Relieves Respiratory Conditions
The phytonutrients present in bitter melon have anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties which make it an ideal booster for respiratory health. 

5.Improves Heart Health
Loaded with fiber, bitter melon keeps the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides in check, thereby protecting from heart diseases. Also, it is known to reduce the levels of blood sugar which also helps in maintaining heart health. 

References:
1.Raman A, Lau C. Anti-diabetic properties and phytochemistry of Momordica charantia L. (Cucurbitaceae). Phytomedicine. 1996 Mar;2(4):349-62. doi:10.1016/S0944-7113(96)80080-8. PubMed PMID: 23194773.
2.Dandawate PR, Subramaniam D, Padhye SB, Anant S. Bitter melon: a panacea for inflammation and cancer. Chin J Nat Med. 2016 Feb;14(2):81-100. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(16)60002-X. Review. PubMed PMID: 26968675.
3.Somasagara RR, Deep G, Shrotriya S, Patel M, Agarwal C, Agarwal R. Bitter melon juice targets molecular mechanisms underlying gemcitabine resistance in pancreatic cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2015 Apr;46(4):1849-57. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.2885. Epub 2015 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 25672620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4356502.
4.Kwatra D, Venugopal A, Standing D, Ponnurangam S, Dhar A, Mitra A, Anant S. Bitter melon extracts enhance the activity of chemotherapeutic agents through the modulation of multiple drug resistance. J Pharm Sci. 2013 Dec;102(12):4444-54. doi: 10.1002/jps.23753. Epub 2013 Oct 15. PubMed PMID: 24129966; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3939049.
5.Ciou SY, Hsu CC, Kuo YH, Chao CY. Effect of wild bitter gourd treatment on inflammatory responses in BALB/c mice with sepsis. Biomedicine (Taipei). 2014;4:17. Epub 2014 Aug 27. PubMed PMID: 25520930; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4264976.
6.Weaver J. How bitter medicine could clear up asthma. PLoS Biol.2013;11(3):e1001500. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001500. Epub 2013 Mar 5. PubMed PMID: 23472052; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3589336.

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