If you don’t eat bitter melon on a regular basis, or if you’ve never tried it at all, don’t worry — neither have I! The name is enough to turn me away since I’m not a fan of bitter foods, and its appearance also leaves much to be desired. However, once you learn the incredible health benefits it offers, it’d be hard to say no to giving this nutrient-packed miracle plant a chance!
What Is Bitter Melon?
If you’ve never heard of bitter melon (also commonly referred to as bitter gourd), it could be because it only grows in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Bitter melon has been used as a traditional medicine for many years, treating things like colic, fevers, burns, chronic cough, painful menstruation, and skin conditions. As for the taste, the title pretty much sums it up (it’s considered to be an acquired taste).
7 Reasons You Should Introduce Bitter Melon Into Your Diet
It Can Help Mitigate Diabetes
Do you have a family history of diabetes or suffer from it yourself? Well, bitter melon could be your answer. A 2011 study on the effects of bitter melon on type 2 diabetes patients found that it can lower blood glucose levels. Participants who ate 2,000 mg of bitter melon each day experienced significant decreases in fructosamine levels in addition to a “modest hypoglycemic effect.”
It Can Improve Eye Health
Bitter melon is high in vitamin A, containing approximately a third of your daily recommended intake. Numerous studies have proven the positive correlation between vitamin A and eye health (examples 1 and 2). More specifically, by consuming more vitamin A, you can slow macular degeneration and thus reduce your likelihood of developing poor vision as you age. It can also improve your night vision. Plus, vitamin A is required for optimal function of your cornea and conjunctival membranes, so the more bitter melon you eat, the better your eye health may become!
It Strengthens Bones and Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Vitamin K is one of the most important nutrients for your bone health and bitter melon contains a lot of it. Bitter melon is also a great source of calcium, which is excellent for your bones as well. Thus, eating bitter melon could help you prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.
It Detoxifies Your Liver
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, bitter foods are known to naturally detoxify and restore balance to the body. Vitamin K in general can also reduce the risk of bleeding related to liver disease, and multiple studies have found that bitter melon specifically can lower triglyceride levels in your liver.
It Can Aid Digestion and Decrease Inflammation and Feelings of Anger
Going back to Traditional Chinese Medicine, bitter foods are said to be related to the heart and small intestine and can clear heat within the body. Thus, bitter foods have a cooling or calming effect on the heart, decreasing feelings of anger and disheartenment. They can also improve the digestive system and mitigate inflammation.
It Can Kill Cancer Cells
A University of Colorado study found that bitter melon juice can kill pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in mice. Tumour growth was inhibited by 60% in the treatment group and there were no signs of toxicity or negative effects on the body, which is a significant discovery given the fact that most mainstream treatment methods, including chemotherapy and radiation, take a huge toll on the body. Read more about this in our CE article here.
Another study found that using different parts of bitter melon including the seed extracts, pericarp, and placenta can help treat leukemia. Findings show that the vegetable extracts can cause apoptosis or cell death of HL60 leukemia cells in human beings.
It Can Help You Lose Weight
Even though fasting is an awesome way to lose weight, there are tons of other ways that involve actually eating, including consuming more bitter melon. Research has shown that eating bitter melon can stop the accumulation of fatty tissue in the body. Bitter melon is also low in calories, but you’re able to get tons of nutrients from it. If you’re going to count anything, make sure it’s nutrients, not calories! You can get your body to feel amazing and full if you’re eating enough nutrients, even if you’re intaking less calories.
It’s Immune Boosting
In addition to being incredible for your overall health, bitter melon is also amazing for your immune system. Research has shown that the phenolic compounds gallic acid, catechin, and caffeic acid found in bitter melon all have high antioxidant properties, making bitter melon extremely beneficial for your immunity.
If you haven’t tried bitter melon yet, I hope this article has provided you with enough reasons to give it a shot!
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