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Bitter Gourd Benefits: 5 Ways Ampalaya Improves Our Health

Bitter Gourd Benefits: 5 Ways Ampalaya Improves Our Health

Locally known as ampalaya, bitter gourd or bitter melon is perhaps one of the least liked fruits, especially by kids. Still, many Filipinos acknowledge that ampalaya is healthy in more ways than one. In this article, we’ll talk about the science-backed bitter gourd benefits that will inspire you to include more of it in your diet.

1. It’s Packed with Nutrients

Did you know that ampalaya belongs to the cucurbit or gourd family which includes other beloved fruits such as pumpkin and watermelon? Hence, it’s not surprising that, like its relatives, bitter melon is also full of nutrients.

Nutritional analyses show that bitter gourd is rich in carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, among all the cucurbit family members, ampalaya has the highest vitamin C content; it also has higher protein content than tomato and cucumber. Moreover, bitter gourd also contains zinc, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.

2. It Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Its ability to lower blood sugar levels is perhaps one of the most well-known bitter gourd benefits, particularly for Filipinos with diabetes.

One report revealed that drinking juice or tea made from the fruit could reduce the level of blood sugar by:

  • Increasing secretion of insulin, the hormone that helps glucose to enter cells.
  • Preventing the gut from reabsorbing glucose.
  • Preserving the islet beta cells that secrete insulin.
  • Improving peripheral glucose utilization.
  • Suppressing gluconeogenic enzymes that help create glucose from noncarbohydrate sources.

Finally, the report also said that bitter gourd contains antidiabetic agents that help improve glucose tolerance.

3. It Might Help Boost Heart Health

One of the potential bitter gourd benefits that researchers are investigating is its ability to treat hypercholesterolemia.

Although limited to animal studies, the investigators concluded that ampalaya is a “potential supplement” in treating hypercholesterolemia and associated disorders.

Keep in mind that high cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

4. It Has High Levels of Antioxidants

Experts highly attribute the medicinal value of ampalaya to its richness in antioxidants. It contains vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as carotenoids. The fruit also has phenols, flavonoids, terpenes, isoflavones, anthraquinones, and glucosinolates – all of which contribute to the fruit’s bitter taste.

Antioxidants help protect the cells from free radicals, and they can also lower inflammation in the body.

5. It Might Help You Lose Weight

If you want to shed some pounds, you might want to add more ampalaya to your meals.

Since it’s rich in fiber, one of the possible bitter gourd benefits is it might aid in weight loss. You see, fiber makes you feel fuller for longer, reducing hunger and possibly avoiding cravings for unhealthy foods.

How To Add Ampalaya To Your Meals

One of the best bitter gourd benefits is you can prepare the fruit in various ways:

  • Serve it as a drink by juicing it along with other fruits and vegetables.
  • Prepare it as tea
  • Prepare a smoothie from pureed bitter melon. Add lemon and honey for a tastier smoothie.
  • Add slices of ampalaya to your pork stir-fry meals.
  • Toss slices of bitter gourd in your vegetable salad. You can also make bitter gourd salad or ensaladang ampalaya.

Bitter gourd is a versatile fruit. You can add it to many well-known Filipino dishes such as pinakbet and ginataang alimasag.

Key Takeaways

As bitter as ampalaya is, one cannot deny that it’s packed with nutrients and other benefits that will improve your health. Studies show that the fruit can lower blood sugar, might help reduce cholesterol, has high levels of antioxidants, and might even aid in weight loss.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Chapter 7 – Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) as an emerging therapeutic agent: Modulating metabolic regulation and cell signaling cascade
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128194836000072
Accessed July 29, 2021

Chapter 10 – Natural Products for the Management of Diabetes
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780444641793000104
Accessed July 29, 2021

Effects of Karela (Bitter Melon; Momordica charantia) on genes of lipids and carbohydrates metabolism in experimental hypercholesterolemia: biochemical, molecular and histopathological study
https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-017-1833-x
Accessed July 29, 2021

Antioxidant Potential and health benefits of bitter gourd (Momoridica charantia L.)
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328077765_Antioxidant_Potential_and_health_benefits_of_bitter_gourd_Momoridica_charantia_L
Accessed July 29, 2021

Phenolic contents and antioxidant activities of bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) leaf, stem and fruit fraction extracts in vitro
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26047274/
Accessed July 29, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Feb 13
Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen