Healthy Living NT

Bitter Gourd (Bitter Melon)

06/11/2015 Article by: Elleni Vassilakoglou, Dietitian, Darwin
Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon (Mormordica charantia) is a tropical fruit that is commonly found in markets in Asia and is also used widely throughout most of tropical Africa.

Bitter GourdIt is also grown in the Top End. The vegetable looks like a warty gourd or cucumber and is a good source of Vitamins A, C and beta-carotene. It also contains minerals such as iron, phosphorus and potassium. It is usually added to curries or fried and can also be dehydrated, pickled or canned.

Bitter Gourd has been used for traditional medicine practices in Eastern countries for many years with the whole plant including its seeds, fruit, leaves and roots used to treat certain medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and microbial infections. It has also been used as a traditional medicine for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Some studies performed with laboratory animals have shown bitter gourd to have blood glucose lowering properties.

Studies conducted on animals have found that juice formulations of bitter gourd can be effective in lowering blood glucose levels and HbA1c, especially when compared to the dried fruit products. Other studies have mentioned that the vegetable may interact with oral hypoglycaemic agents, worsening hypoglycaemia amongst those with type 2 diabetes. Whilst this research suggests that bitter melon may assist with lowering of blood glucose levels there is not enough evidence available for health professionals to recommend it for the prevention of type 2 diabetes complications. More human studies need to be conducted before specific dietary recommendations can be given.

This article was published on Territory Way Magazine edition September 2015. To read more interesting article please click here

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