Bitter Gourd (Karela): Sweet News For Diabetics
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By now everyone knows the importance of diet in controlling blood sugar levels (BSL) and staying off medicines for diabetics. Many freely available fresh vegetables and herbs are proving to be potent natural remedies; one of the most advocated all across the Indian sub-continent is karela, as the bitter gourd is known in Hindi. Other names that it goes by, include Bitter Apple, Wild Cucumber, Bitter Cucumber, Balsam apple, and Kugua.
Bitter gourd, which goes by many names, is found in many parts of South America, Asia, Africa, and India. Dark green in colour, this vegetable looks very much like cucumber but has an intensely bitter taste. It is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals
Bitter Melon Nutrition Facts
Bitter gourd is very rich in iron, beta carotene, calcium and potassium. In fact it has twice the quantity of these nutrients as compared with foods considered rich in it, viz broccoli, spinach and banana, respectively. It is also low in calories and high in essential nutrients, including B1, B2, B3 vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, folate, phosphorous, zinc and dietary fibre.
Health Benefits of Karela
Its flesh and seeds are traditionally used to treat a number of health problems, including
Karela/Bitter Gourd Anti-Diabetic Properties
Certain chemicals in karela act like insulin, in that they allow glucose from the bloodstream to enter the cells, where they can be burned as energy, thus reducing the body’s blood sugar levels (BSL). Karely can help your body process glucose and store it in your muscle cells, and liver. One unique way it helps fight high BSL is by preventing the body from converting nutrients into glucose and releasing it into the blood.
One unique phyto-constituent in bitter gourd, is Charantin. This has been proven to have definite hypoglycemic properties. Not only does it lower blood insulin levels, as well.
How to Consume Bitter Melon| Karela for Anti-Diabetes Benefits
Karela is routinely eaten as a cooked vegetable in all parts of the Indian sub-continent. There are several recipes that used a variety of techniques, such as blanching, soaking in brine, etc. to so its bitterness can be reduced to make it more palatable, However, when it comes to anti-diabetic treatment, it is this very bitterness that is highly prized.
Karela or bitter gourd is also commonly dried, canned, and even pickled in a solution of brine and/or vinegar. The flower, leaves, seeds, and juice can all be consumed to realize its health benefits.
Bitter Melon| Karela Juice Preparation
There are two step by step methods of preparation of bitter gourd juice
Method – 1
- Clean, chop and blend the bitter gourd.
- Strain the juice to extract the concentrate.
- This can be kept refrigerated to increase its shelf life, but do not leave unconsumed for long.
Method – 2
- Extract the juice of 1 bitter melon/ karela (4-5 inches long) and 1 cucumber/ kakdi (4-5 inches long).
- Mix the two juices with half a teaspoon of lemon juice and black salt to taste.
People battling obesity can have 30 ml bitter gourd juice twice a week
All others can take bitter gourd juice once a week
For best results, drink 30 ml the pure undiluted juice 30 minutes after having your FFD super green smoothie. <Follow this link for the Diabetes-friendly smoothie recipe>
While karela/bitter gourd offers a slew of health benefits, overconsumption is not recommended. Karela is a powerful laxative and excessive consumption can lead to abdominal pain or diarrhoea, albeit mild and temporary. Ensure you do not consume more than 50 gm of bitter melon, or more than two melons a day.
If you’re on hypoglycemic drugs and plan to consume bitter melon on a regular basis, it would be prudent to closely monitor your BSL levels, and inform your doctor in the event the dosage of your drugs needs to be adjusted.