Despite the harsh taste, bitter melon, also known as the bitter gourd or balsam pear, is a rich source of nutrients which can improve your health on many levels. The list of health benefits is long – it strengthens your bones, improves your immunity, and even protects against cancer.
#1 It Builds Immunity
Bitter gourd is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It contains phenolic compounds like gallic acid, catechin, and caffeic acid, all of which are powerful antioxidants that boost your immunity. Several animal studies have found that bitter lemon is particularly beneficial for those with diabetes as it helps normalize the antioxidant status which is otherwise impaired.
#2 It Keeps the Liver Healthy
Bitter melon is recommended as “liver tonic” owing to its ability to improve digestion, cleanse blood, and detox your body. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that bitter substances like bitter gourd can eliminate excess heat in the body, act as a natural detox, and restore balance. Also, the vitamin K in bitter melon reduces the risk of bleeding related to liver disease.
Moreover, a number of animal studies have found that this vegetable reduces liver triglyceride levels.
#3 It Keeps Your Diabetes in Check
Bitter melon is particularly beneficial for diabetics, as mentioned above. The extract from bitter melon is believed to be structurally similar to animal insulin meaning it can cut down blood glucose levels in someone with type 2 diabetes. A study confirmed that patients who consumed 2000 mg of bitter melon per day reduced their fructosamine levels significantly, along with a “modest hypoglycemic effect.”
#4 It Helps With Eye Health
Vitamin A is probably the most important vitamin for good eye health. It doesn’t only prevent the development of cataract or even night blindness, but it also maintains good eye health in general. Vitamin A is essential for proper function of your cornea and conjunctival membranes. And one serving of bitter melon provides almost a third of RDV (recommended daily value) for this vitamin.
#5 It Builds Bone Strength And Prevents Osteoporosis
Bitter gourd is abundant in vitamin K, the essential vitamin for bone health. Unless you get enough of this vitamin, the calcium you consume (which is also found in bitter melon abundantly) will not be absorbed in your body. This inevitably affects your bone density and in the long run, creates grounds for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
#6 It Helps Fight Against Cancer
Bitter melon is also beneficial for those with cancer. Bitter melon seed extracts as well as the pericarp and placenta have been used in research against leukemia. The studies revealed that the vegetable extracts have the potential to cause apoptosis or cell death of HL60 leukemia cells in humans.
Different studies examining the link between watermelon and breast cancer cells have found that the vegetable reduces cell proliferation significantly. The extract induces apoptotic cell death of cancerous cells. It can also effectively induce apoptosis of pancreatic cancer cells, which is particularly promising taken that this is one of the most serious types of cancer.
#7 It Aids Weight Loss and Cuts Fat
Owing to its ability to stimulate the breakdown of lipids or fats, bitter melon can reduce the buildup of tissue fat in your body according to studies. It also prevents fatty acid or triglyceride synthesis, meaning it’s a great addition to any weight loss plan.
Another advantage is that bitter melon is low in calories, but rich in vitamins including vitamins A, C, K, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.