Fruit tends to be a tasty addition to a diet. Hence the classic “nature’s candy” moniker. But some fruits need a little extra effort to enjoy their benefits. They’re diamonds in the rough. Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon or karela, is the perfect example.
As one of the most bitter fruits in the plant kingdom, bitter gourd, or karela, can be off-putting for some. But karela juice has had a place in Indian traditional medicine for centuries.1 Modern science is now catching up with ancient theories. Some of those “old” beliefs about karela juice benefits may have factual grounding.
Obtaining the full benefits of karela juice may not be as simple as picking fruit from a tree and eating it. But, as you’ll see, this is one fruit that may well be worth the effort.
Karela Juice Explained
The bitter gourd is the edible part of the momordica charantia plant.2 Because of its taste, bitter gourd juice is the ideal format when consuming this fruit. You may be able to find bitter gourd juice in ethnic foods or health food stores. But buying the fruit yourself, and making the juice at home, could be a better way to go. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Keep an eye out for bitter gourd that are larger and lighter green. Larger, lighter green ones are less bitter, and the same carries over to bitter gourd juice made from them. Ripe bitter gourd juice, by comparison, is the most bitter.
- If you do buy some bitter gourd with the intention of making bitter gourd juice, don’t hold onto it for too long. They can ripen in the fruit portion of your refrigerator, making them more bitter than expected.
- Struggling with the bitterness of bitter gourd juice? Consider combining it with other healthy juices, like carrot or apple juice.3
You can also get dietary supplements made from bitter melon extract.4 As with any supplement, do your research. Also, talk with your doctor before adding any new supplement, including bitter melon extract, to your routine.
Karela Juice Benefits
Bitter gourd juice is a bit of a nutritio
nal Swiss Army knife. It’s packed with nutrients, and each of these nutrients has a different role in the body. When you drink your bitter gourd juice, you’re helping your body in a variety of ways. Here are some of the top things to consider:
Potassium and Magnesium-Rich
Bitter gourd juice is a rich source of potassium, which as many as 90 percent of Americans are deficient in. Getting enough potassium helps ensure a lower risk of several serious health issues. Bitter gourd also contains copious amounts of magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can lead to health issues. Magnesium is also needed to help activate other vitamins in the body, like calcium.6,7
Karela juice is also rich in dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health. Fiber helps keep your body regular. Additionally, dietary fiber may help promote good heart health.8
Blood Sugar Support
Bitter melon may help support blood sugar levels. It is believed that the active component is a natural compound called polypeptide-p, or p- sugar levels. One study showed potential impact in this area.9 While there is potential here, medical professionals do NOT see bitter melon as a replacement for traditional medication. Think of it as a compliment, at best. Always consult your doctor before starting any new complementary health routine.
Bitter gourd is rich in antioxidants, mainly vitamin C. Antioxidants can help stop free radicals from damaging our cells. This free radical damage can lead to serious health problems.10
Antioxidants are also great for skin health, promoting anti-aging. You’ll see a lot of skin care product promoting antioxidant ingredients. Still, the best way to get them is via diet, or supplements. This promotes beauty from the inside out.11
Antioxidants may also help boost your immune system. Research into this idea is ongoing. It’s just one more reason to include antioxidant-rich karela juice in your diet.12
Bitter gourd juice can be a great compliment to your diet. With its rich nutritional content, it can definitely boost your normal health regimens. Make your own karela juice, or take a bitter gourd extract to enjoy the benefits from this odd-looking fruit. Of course, if you have concerns, please consult your doctor before consuming.
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Ryan Velez is a freelance writer and editor from New Jersey with a background in B2B journalism and natural health. Since picking up freelancing in 2015, he’s worked with clients across different fields and across the globe to create the content their audiences want to see. When not writing, he’s always trying to scope out a new restaurant to visit. Learn more about Ryan at his website, rrvelez.com.