If you haven’t given a lot of thought to bitter melon health benefits, it might be time to give this vegetable/fruit hybrid some consideration. Bitter melon has a long history of use in alternative medicine and is also sometimes used in traditional medicine. This amazing plant isn’t anything like what you normally think of when you hear the word melon — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it as a part of your daily dietary routine.
Whether you eat bitter melon or use it along with other herbal supplements you might be taking, check with your doctor first.
What Is Bitter Melon?
As the name implies, bitter melon is, well, bitter. In fact, it’s considered to be the most bitter-tasting fruit or vegetable. It goes by other names as well, including bitter gourd and karela. It comes from the Momordica Charantia plant, and grows in several parts of the world. These include Asia, parts of Africa, the Caribbean region, and South America. The bitter melon is a football-shaped, fruit with a distinctive, warty texture.1
Bitter Melon Nutrition Facts
One of the reasons bitter melon is good for you is that it’s low in calories and fat. It also contains many vital nutrients. Here’s a quick look at some of the nutrients you’ll find in just one cup of bitter melon.
- Vitamin C – 78 mg (130 percent of your recommended daily intake)
- Potassium – 275 mg (8 percent)
- Dietary fiber – 2.6 g (10 percent)2/li>
Other nutrients in bitter melon include copper, calcium, vitamin A, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and zinc.3
What Are The Potential Benefits Of Bitter Melon?
Extensive research suggests that bitter melon may benefit your overall health. Here are just a few of those potential benefits.
Heart Health Support
There’s also evidence that bitter melon could help support the health of your cardiovascular system. It appears that bitter melon extract helps the body get rid of cholesterol more efficiently.4In general, fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that can help your heart stay healthy.5
As you learned earlier, bitter melon contains vitamin A which can act as an antioxidant to help support eye health.6 Bitter melon also contains a lot of vitamin C, which also helps support healthy vision.7
Does Bitter Melon Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
Bitter melon contains some powerful ingredients that may help support healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range. These include charanti, vicine and polypeptide-p.8
Some people with high blood sugar levels have trouble turning that sugar into energy. One main reason why is that they have an insulin deficiency. This is known as insulin resistance. Bitter melon contains compounds that activate an enzyme known as AMPK. And this enzyme helps offset the effects of insulin resistance so the body can convert sugar into energy, instead of that sugar staying in the blood.9
How To Use Bitter Melon In Cooking
There are a lot of ways you can use bitter melon in cooking. When cooked, you’ll also reduce some of the bitter taste.10You can also remove some of the bitterness by boiling bitter melon in salt water for about 2-3 minutes.11
Here are just a few of the ways people around the world use bitter melon.
- China – Soups and tea made from bitter melon are popular in China.
- Northern India – People in this part of the country often stuff bitter melon with spices and sauté it in cooking oil.
- Southern India – In this region of India, many people mix bitter melon with coconut, combine it with a variety of spices, and stir-fry it.
- The Caribbean – Bitter melon is often mixed with garlic and onions and sautéed until it becomes crisp.12
Bitter Melon Recipe
Are you feeling a little adventurous and ready to try something new in the kitchen? Here’s one way you can prepare bitter melon like they do in northern India.
Stuffed Bitter Melon
- Four bitter melons (medium size)
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ¼ teaspoon of dried mango powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons of cooking oil
- Use a peeler to remove the skin from the melons.
- Cut into the melons and scoop out the seeds.
- Add the salt to the inside and outside of the bitter melon and set aside for between 15-30 minutes.
- Wash the bitter melon to get rid of any excess salt. Pat the bitter melon dry, cut it into four slices, and set it to the side.
- Mix the chopped onions and spices together and put the mixture in the four melon slices.
- Pour cooking oil in a shallow pan (make sure it’s non-stick) and put on medium heat.
- Gently place the stuffed slices in the pan.
- Turn the slices occasionally until they turn a golden-brown color all over.
- Remove from the pan and serve.13
Ready To Enjoy All The Benefits Of Bitter Melon?
Now that you know how good bitter melon can be for your health, why not see if it will work for you? Remember, though, don’t ever make any sudden changes to your diet, or take any sort of supplement, without talking to your doctor first.