Goya or Bitter melon (you may have also heard it referred to as Karela, Balsam Pear or Bitter Gourd), is commonly used for many different health benefits. The melon is a very helpful food, but it has an extremely bitter taste. On first look the Goya looks like a cucumber but with ugly gourd–like bumps all over it. It thrives in humid and hot climates, so they are commonly found in South America and Asian countries.
Dr. Frank Shallenberger M.D., who specializes in Anti Aging Treatment and Alternative Medicine at The Nevada Center of Alternative & Anti – Aging Medicine, has used the fruit to fight pancreatic cancer. Dr. Shallenberger has found bitter melon to be an effective tool in inhibiting cancer cell growth and advises his patients to go for natural substances that inhibit cancer cell growth.
During his latest research, Dr. Shallenberger found that when bitter melon juice is diluted to 5% in water, it proved to be very effective in fighting pancreatic cancer. Bitter melon was able to damage cancer cell lines by a rate of 90% and 98%. The University of Colorado tested bitter melon’s effect further and found a 64% reduction in the size of the pancreatic tumors.
Dr. Shallenberger’s research is just one of the many health benefits bitter melon has to offer. Bitter melon has also been used as a remedy for high blood pressure, asthma, skin infections, diabetes symptoms and stomach problems. The plant has been used as a traditional medicine in Africa, India, China and the southeastern US. Bitter melons contain high amounts of nutrients, but are very low in calories. It is an excellent source of magnesium, manganese, high dietary fiber, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, folate, zinc, and phosphorus. It contains twice the beta – carotene of broccoli, it is rich in iron, twice the potassium of a banana and twice the calcium of spinach. Even with all of the beneficial nutrients it has to offer, one negative about the bitter melon is that its bitter taste detracts a lot of people from consuming it.
Health Benefits of Bitter Melon
- Regular consumption of bitter gourd juice has been proven to improve stamina and energy levels.
- Bitter melon is an excellent source of folate. When taken by mothers during early pregnancy, folate helps reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in newborn babies.
- Type – 2 Diabetes. Bitter melon notably contains polypeptide – P, phyto – nutrient, a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. Even more, bitter melon contains a unique phyto – constituent that has been confirmed to have charantin which increases glycogen synthesis and glucose uptake inside the cells of muscle, liver and adipose tissue. Together, these two reduce blood sugar levels in the treatment of type – 2 diabetes.
- Immune booster. This bitter juice can also help to increase your body’s resistance against infection and build your immune system.
- Eye problems. The high beta – carotene and other properties in bitter melon make it one of the healthiest fruits that helps improve eyesight and alleviate eye problems.
- By speeding up your body’s metabolism of alcohol, bitter melon can help relieve hangovers. It also helps repair , cleanse and nourish liver problems due to alcohol consumption.
- Indigestion/Constipation. Bitter melon stimulates peristalsis of food and easy digestion through the bowel until it is excreted from the body.
- Liver Cleanse. Bitter melon helps cleanse and detoxify your liver, especially when consumed as a juice. In addition it helps relieve gout pain and improves blood circulation.
- Regular consumption of bitter juice has also been known to improve psoriasis conditions and other fungal infections like athletes feet and ringworm.
Best ways to consume bitter melon
Unlike some other vegetables and fruits it is best to pick a bitter melon that is firm and still green. You may want to avoid if the bitter melon is starting to turn orange or has soft spots (the more bitter the taste, the riper the melon gets).
It is best to clean your bitter melon under cold running water and brush with a soft vegetable brush.
- Okinawantir – fry with bitter melon, Goya chanpuru, pork, onion, eggs, tofu, and is a special dish of health – conscious island inhabitants.
- Dried, and ground whole bitter gourd has been used in the preparation of iced or milk tea in some East Asian regions.
- In India it is commonly used stuffed with garam – masala or in stir – fries, green chilies, tomato, curry leaves onions and garlic.
- Bitter gourd is also been used in the pickle preparations.
- In the Philippines it is known as ampalaya, it has been widely used in special dishes like Pinakbet Ilocano, prepared with shrimp paste and mixed with vegetables like okra and eggplant.
It is definitely something worth trying, if you can withstand the bitter taste of this fruit. The beneficial nutrients alone make it worthy of consumption. It is an almost ideal food to include in your diet for additional health benefits.