Bitter melon, as its name implies, tastes quite bitter. However, its health benefits are numerous and thus it should not be overlooked just because it may have an unpleasant taste. There are many ways to consume bitter melon, be it as a vegetable in a dish or as a tablet supplement. Bitter melons look nothing like regular melons. Their shape is probably closer to that of an eggplant, but with green and wrinkled skin. As the bitter melon originated in Asia, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, many Asian countries have at least one dish that makes use of it. Asians have also been using the bitter melon in many of their traditional medicines, using it to treat various ills such as respiratory and skin diseases.
As a rather well-known Asian food, bitter melon is known by many names, varying by country: peria (Malaysia), nigauri (Japanese), kugua (Chinese), mara (Thai), ampalaya (Filipino), yeoju (Korean), paagharkaai (Tamil), and so on. In the English language, the bitter melon is also known by several names: bitter squash, bitter gourd, balsam apple, balsam pear, bitter apple, carilla gourd, wild cucumber, and vegetable insulin, among others. Scientifically, the bitter melon is known as Momordica charantia.
One of the many names that bitter melon is known by is vegetable insulin. By that alone, it can be inferred that those who would stand to benefit the most from bitter melon are people who suffer from diabetes. Those with high cholesterol and kidney stones can also find relief in consuming bitter melon. For those who simply want to improve their skin and weight, bitter melon also has something to offer.
How consuming bitter melon can be beneficial:
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Naturally breaks down kidney stones
- Contains anti-cancer properties
- Rich source of vitamins A and C
- Helps clear acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions
- Acts as liver tonic to counteract liver diseases such as cirrhosis
Bitter melon has been shown to lower blood sugar levels by increasing the metabolism of glucose. This is very beneficial for those suffering from diabetes, particularly type II. A compound similar to insulin, polypeptide-p, is also found in bitter melon. For those suffering from kidney stones, bitter melon helps break down the acid that is the primary cause of the stones’ formation.
At first, bitter melon may seem like an unpleasant option, but its benefits far outweigh its only negative: taste. Bitter melon also does not necessarily taste bitter or unpleasant, provided it is prepared well. Simply take a look at the many Asian recipes that make use of this wonder vegetable, or maybe even experiment on your own to start gleaning its many benefits.