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The bitter truth

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People say you should never judge a book by its cover and they are right. In a glance, bitter melon would probably scare you away with its bright green exterior and jagged surface. The name doesn’t really scream ‘I’m delicious’ either. However, this humble vegetable-fruit may actually be the key to your overall wellness.

Also known as bitter gourd, its taste is associated with having medicinal properties especially in countering high blood sugar level. But is this true or is it just a myth? Based on a slew of studies, it was found that bitter melon might actually be the solution to some health issues including acne, constipation, gout, herpes, menstrual cramps and psoriasis.

Health benefits of bitter melon

According to Nutrition and You, bitter melon is very low in calories, carrying just 17 calories per 100g. Fresh bitter melons also contains the following nutrients:

  • A phytonutrient called polypeptide-P which helps lower blood sugar levels
  • Folates which is great for expecting mothers
  • Vitamin C which is a natural antioxidant
  • Small amounts of B-complex vitamins
  • Small amounts of minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium

Due to its rich nutrient contents, bitter melons are said to be particularly helpful in the prevention and treatment of numerous other severe health conditions such as:

– Diabetes

It is known that diabetes occurs when your blood sugar level is too high and your body somehow cannot generate enough insulin to balance it out. Research shows that bitter melon contains properties that may have similar effects like that of insulin. This would help to keep the blood sugar level from spiking. Therefore, it is believed that we may stand a bigger chance against diabetes if we include bitter melon in our diet.

– Eliminate kidney stones

Kidney stones are by-products of calcium phosphate or calcium oxalate. According to Mayo Clinic, the stones form in the kidneys when the urine becomes concentrated thus allowing minerals to crystallise and stick together. It is reported that bitter melon contains properties that can naturally break down the stones. It also reduces high acid that produces the stones in the first place.

– High cholesterol

Cholesterol is important for you to ensure healthy cells growth. However, a poor lifestyle choice can trigger the development of fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Over time, these deposits would grow and hinder the blood flow through arteries. Several studies revealed that bitter melon could help with lowering cholesterol levels. Subsequently, this greatly reduces the risks for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

– Obesity

Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess weight or body fat that might affect their health, Medical News Today explained. Based on a preliminary animal study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice in 2008, bitter melon would help reduce the buildup of visceral fat in mice fed a high-fat diet. This reduces the risks of heart disease and diabetes.

Other perks of bitter melon

– Glowing skin

A medical doctor from New Delhi suggests that bitter melon has the power to prevent premature aging and diminishes wrinkles, thanks to its powerful anti-oxidants along with vitamin A and C. It is said to also protect the skin from harmful UV rays.

– Lustrous locks

As discussed, bitter melon is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It also contains a high amount of biotin and zinc which adds shine and lustre to your hair. Other benefits include minimising hair loss and reducing dandruff.

– Cures hangovers

While this may not be scientifically proven, some swear by bitter melon juice to cure a hangover. It is said that the bitter taste will flush out all alcoholic intoxication settled in your liver.

Best ways to prepare bitter melon

– Have it stir-fried

While stir-frying is not really the healthiest cooking method available, this could be the easiest way for you to train your taste buds to enjoy the bitterness. Best part about this style is you get to be creative and couple the bitter melon with other meat to make it a more complex dish, or tofu for a vegetarian-friendly recipe.

– Make it into a smoothie

When in doubt, put it in a blender. This is the easiest way to gulp down a bunch of nutrients from bitter melon without having to get acquainted with its taste. If you fancy something sweeter, don’t hesitate to chuck in a couple of your favourite fruits, such as apples, kiwi or banana. One yummy and healthy smoothie coming right up!

While bitter melon contains ‘magical properties’ that could help with overall wellness, it does not mean that you should not take extra precaution measures. Get yourself and loved ones protected with AIA’s protection plan, which covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations in Cambodia and overseas. For further inquiry, contact 086 999 242.

Sources: Healthline, WebMD, Very Well Health, World Health Organisation, Mayo Clinic, Nutrients and You, AIA Malaysia, Lifehack.

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