You’ve had watermelon. You may have even had a honeydew or cantelope before.
But have you had a bitter melon?
If not, it’s about time you did – especially if you’re looking to shed a few pounds before bikini season rolls around.
Though technically a gourd (like zucchini and pumpkin), bitter melon comes with a whole slew of health benefits, and it can actually aid in weight loss.
So if you’re hoping to get healthy before summer time, you might just want to start adding this little baby to your diet. After all, every little bit helps, right?
Why Bitter Melon?
When you take your first bite of bitter melon, you probably won’t be too impressed. In fact, you may even want to spit it out. It’s definitely bitter, as the name suggests, but it’s also a very good vegetable for your overall health and wellness. If you can get past the taste, the health benefits are definitely worth it in the end.
Bitter melon can:
- Improve your immunity – Bitter melon is full to the brim with vitamin C, which can give your immune system a much-needed boost. It also comes with antiviral properties, which stimulate your immune cells and help them fight off infections and other unwanted attackers, and it can act as an anti-inflammatory in the stomach and intestines.
- Boost your digestive health – The high levels of fiber in bitter melons also help you keep your digestive system in shape, too. It prevents issues like constipation and dyspepsia, it can help you rid your body of toxins and waste, and it can even kill off infections in the stomach.
- Lower your cholesterol – Bitter melon has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and even reduce chances of stroke, heart attack, heart disease and other cardiac conditions. And who doesn’t want to prevent that unfortunate stuff?
- Help you lose weight – Bitter melon is extremely low calorie. Just one serving contains a mere 17 calories. It’s filling too, so you can feel sated without consuming too many calories in one sitting. Additionally, bitter melon also stimulates your liver, causing it to secrete bile, a major player in your ability to metabolize and break down fats. The better your liver works, the more easily your body can process fats and keep them from storing up on your hips, waist and other problem areas.
- Treats diabetes – Because of the phytonutrients (particularly polypeptide and vicine) in bitter melon, it can also help treat diabetes, too. Polypeptide mimics insulin, naturally keeping your blood sugar levels in check. Vicine has also been shown to have a hypoglycemic effect, lowering glucose levels in the blood. While bitter melon is certainly not a cure or all-out treatment for diabetes, it can certinaly help alleviate systems and make management easier.
- Get rid of kidney stones – Kidney stones are extremely painful, both to have and to pass. Fortunately, bitter melon can offer some sort of relief. It actually reduces high levels of acid in the body, acids that could be causing kidney stones in the first place. It can also help the body naturally break down the stones, so they’re easier and less painful to pass.
- Fight off vision disorders – Bitter melon is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, two substances that are vital to your optical health. Eat plenty of it, and you can ward off problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Treat pancreatic cancer – In a University of Colorado study, researchers found that doses of bitter melon over a period of time actually resulted in a 64-percent reduction in pancreatic tumor size. The best part? There were no adverse side effects in the patients at all.
- Improve your skin – Thanks to its high levels of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, bitter melon can actually improve the look of your skin. It helps to hydrate the skin, remove toxins and prevent damage from free radicals. This can reduce redness, soothe acne, psoriasis and eczema, and even cause a “glowing” effect.
Want to enjoy all these amazing benefits, but just can’t stomach the taste? Simply soak your bitter melon in chilled saltwater for a few hours, then cook it or eat it raw. The water will help remove some of the bitterness and make it much easier to get down.
You can also drink the bitter melon in tea form. Just grab a handful of slices of dried bitter melon, and add them to a cup full of warm water. Let the mixture steep for a few minutes, and drink up. Two or three cups a day should do it. (And be sure to eat the melons once you’re done!)
Bitter melon is also popular in Asian dishes, so next time you’re cooking a Asian style healthy dish like brown “fried” rice, consider throwing a few slices in. You most likely won’t even notice it’s there. Have you ever tried bitter melon before? What did you think? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!