At first glance, the bitter gourd (also known as bitter melon) seems like something you would want to avoid, rather than incorporate into your diet. With a series of odd-looking bumps on its surface and a famously bitter taste, it’s not a surprise that people often steer clear of this fruit.
However, they may be selling the bitter gourd short. In India, juices made from the fruit, known as karela juice, have been a popular folk remedy for centuries. What you may not realize is that modern science is taking a look at potential karela juice benefits, and there’s plenty of promise. Why is everyone drinking karela juice? Let’s take a closer look at …
What’s Behind Bitter Gourd Juice?
Bitter gourd is common in Asian and subtropical climates, which may be one reason why we are just starting to hear about its applications now. As the edible portion of the momordica charantia plant, it is considered among the most bitter of all fruits and vegetables, another potential barrier to consumption.1
Here are a few tips for maximizing its benefits:
- Seek out bitter melon that is lighter green. As a general rule of thumb, larger and lighter green ones are less bitter, and the same carries over to bitter gourd juice made from them. Ripe bitter melon is the most bitter.
- Be wary of how long you keep your bitter gourd before juicing it. The gourd will grow more bitter as it ripens.
- Incorporate other juices, like carrot or apple juice, or a natural sweetener like stevia to make it more palatable if the bitterness is still a struggle for you.2
Cooked vs. Raw
Note that while you can boil a bitter melon in water and then drink the juice, you will lose some of the vitamins and enzymes that are part of the fruit. As a result, juicing the raw fruit is the way to go. The secondary option would be dietary supplements with melon extract. This is a perfectly viable choice, but different supplements have different levels of melon extract, so be sure to do your research. And as always, talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement, extract, or ingredient to your routine.
If you want to try raw or boiled bitter melon juice, look for bitter melons at your local farmer’s market, health food store, or well-stocked grocery stores. Bitter melons are a staple in Chinese, Thai, and Indian cuisine, so also consider checking supermarkets that cater to those communities.
Karela Juice Benefits
If you can find it, bitter gourd juice is well worth the effort. For one, it is a rich source of some of the nutrients that the typical Western diet lacks the most, like potassium and magnesium.3 Many American diets are deficient in potassium, and low levels of magnesium are linked to conditions from fatigue to nausea, with things becoming more extreme as the deficiency is prolonged.4,5 On top of this, if you puree a bitter melon into a smoothie, not only will you enjoy those benefits, but you’ll enjoy plenty of dietary fiber, which promotes regularity and digestive health. 6
Helps Maintain Glucose & Blood Sugar Levels
While bitter gourd juice is a great way to reinforce your nutrient content, studies show even more potential applications for the fruit. Bitter gourd contains a compound called polypeptide-p, or p-insulin, which has been shown to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.7
Another report showed that bitter melon could help maintain healthy glucose levels, too.8 As a note, more study is required to determine appropriate dosage, so don’t expect bitter gourd juice to replace typical diabetes medication. Make sure to discuss taking bitter melon extract with your doctor BEFORE supplementing with it.
Perhaps the most interesting health benefit from bitter gourd juice revolves around its strong antioxidant content, in particular, vitamin C. If you aren’t getting enough antioxidants in your system, the cell damage caused by free radicals can lead to a host of potentially serious health conditions.9 Bitter gourd juice is proven to be a rich source of antioxidants.
Bitter gourd juice allows you to get the health benefits of bitter gourd without necessarily dealing with the bitterness of the fruit. Whether you decide to use a juicer, blender, or bitter melon supplement, adding bitter gourd juice to your diet could support your health in many ways.
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