Karela (Bitter Gourd) - Overview, History, Uses, Benefits, Precaution, Dosage

What Is Bitter Gourd(Karela)?

Karela- also known as Bitter Gourd and Momordica Charantia. It is a vine plant that gives a nutritional green vegetable 

It is a healthy vegetable in the world that has been used in many health problems for a long time. A bitter gourd that is completely familiar as a summer staple vegetable. It is cultivated as an edible vegetable around the world and highly used n Asian cuisine. The shape of the vegetable varies like long, short, bumped, non-bumped, pale green, dark green and many more. Like Chinese Kareals are 8 inches long whereas Indian Karela is 4 inches long. The size varies with the country and climate change. It is very sharp in flavour, and bitter in taste. Due to its bitter taste, it is beneficial for health problems. Well, it has white flesh with seeds and green outside. The flesh is more bitter in taste, that is why it is removed when used in cuisine or the medical world. The fruit is often eaten green.

  • Latin Name: The Latin name or scientific name of Karela is Momordica charantia.
  • Family: Karela or bitter gourd belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is a family that has tropical and subtropical vine.
  • Common Name: Karela, Bitter Gourd, Bitter Melon, Pare, bitter squash, etc are the common names for it.
  • Habitat: The favourable habitat of Karela is sandy to sandy loam, medium black soil. It is a warm-weather crop.
  • Season: The favourable season for Kerala in April – May and July – September

History of Karela (Bitter Gourd)

Karela is ancient, we know that. But there is very little history about the Karela or bitter gourd. Bitter gourd originated from Africa. It is first noted in Africa as a dry-season staple food of Kung hunter-gatherers. With time, it spread in Asia. At first, the Wild or semi-domesticated variants became famous. Within time, it was fully domesticated in Southeast Asia. As time passed, the benefits of Karela got famous around the world. It is widely used in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia in different types of cuisine.

What Is The Bitterness Of Bitter Gourd?

Bitter Gourd or Karela contain non-toxic glycoside momordicin, which give bitterness to the Karela and work for benefits.

The bitterness component of bitter gourd is said to be good for the stomach.

There are two ways that it is good for the stomach.

  1. Activates the work of the stomach to release digestive juices and relieves stomach upset caused by overeating.
  2. Aim for a protective effect that protects and repairs the gastric mucosa damaged by stress.

Bitter gourd has the effect of 1., and gastric acid is actively released to help digestion. On the other hand, excessive gastric acid attacks the gastric mucosa and causes stomach pain.

On the other hand, it is said that eating too much causes stomach aches, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea in some people.

Nutrition & Effects Of Bitter Gourd

1 cup of bitter gourd or karela about 112 grams contains -

  • Energy - 28 calories
  • Protein - 1.8g
  • Carbohydrate - 4.7g
  • Fat - 0.91g
  • Fibre - 4.8g
  • Vitamin A - 141.1cg
  • Vitamin B1 - 0.08mg
  • Vitamin B2 - 0.1mg
  • Vitamin C - 98.5 mg
  • Calcium - 22.4 mg
  • Iron - 0.68mg
  • Magnesium - 40.3 mg
  • Phosphorus - 78.4mg
  • Zinc - 0.43mg
  • Potassium - 191.5mg

Vitamin C: Vitamin C from the Karela is effective against colds. Because it activates the white blood cells and fights bacteria. Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, so it is recommended to consume Karela as Salad and Juice, without cooking.

Vitamin B: Vitamin B like Vitamin B1 & B2 are nutrients that are needed for energy conversion of sugar and facts. Efficiently energy is generated by Kerala's Vitamin B. It is also good for fatigue prevention and obesity formation.

Calcium: It is an essential nutrient for the bone and teeth. Karela contains calcium that is good for bone health.

Folic Acid: Karela’s folic acid plays a role in supporting red blood cell production. A good intake of folic acid produces red blood cells normally, which is effective against anaemia.

Potassium: Karela's potassium has the function of maintaining and adjusting the osmotic pressure of cells together with sodium, and promotes the discharge of excess water and salt accumulated in the body. If you are concerned about swelling, it is a good idea to refrain from using high-salt foods.

Dietary Fiber: Insoluble dietary fibre has been discovered to promote peristaltic motions of the intestines, which stimulates the stool that has accumulated in the intestines to be pushed out by stimulating the intestines. Furthermore, dietary fibre provides food for the good bacteria in the colon and is believed to increase the number of good bacteria, making it beneficial to the intestinal environment.

Benefits of Karela (Bitter Gourd benefits)

There are many benefits linked with the Karela or Bitter Gourd. Let’s know about them.

Lower Blood Sugar

From the traditional time, karela has been used for diabetes. It has a similar substance called Polypeptide-p like insulin that works to normalise the blood sugar level in the body. Regular use of Karela or Karela juice reduces the blood glucose level. It is also effective for Type I and Types II diabetes patients.

Liver Detoxifier

Karela or Bitter Gourd has a powerful antioxidant that increases the level of natural antioxidants in the body. Kerala reduces the fat accumulation from the liver and removes the unwanted toxic substance. In addition, it also prevents liver damage caused by alcohol and is good for the hangover. Many people prefer to drink Karela juice for the hangover.

Reduce Cholesterol Level

A high level of cholesterol in the body causes plaque in the blood vessels and puts pressure on heart function. Karela is effective to decrease the total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides and support good cholesterol in the body. Hence, you can also protect your cardio health.

Weight Management

People who have a weight loss routine, then prefer to use karela or karela juice in their diet. Bitter gourd is an excellent food for weight management, as it is low in calories and high in fibre. With low calories, it makes you feel fuller for a long time, you can control your hunger and control your daily intake. In addition, Karela or Bitter gourd also show the effect on fat burning and reducing cholesterol.

Support Digestion

With an excellent source of fibre, Kerala or Kerala extract is also good for digestion and improves bowel movement. It supports healthy gut bacteria, improves metabolism, relieves constipation and also settles the stomach for a long time.

Skin & Hair Care

As we know, karela is full of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A and Vitamin C as well as antioxidants are beneficial for skin and hair health. The antioxidants reduce the ageing sign, fight acne and pimples, and support better skin nourishment. It can be used to treat ringworm, psoriasis, and itching, among other skin problems. Karela juice gives shine to hair and helps to prevent dandruff, hair loss, and split ends.

Blood Purifier

Karela or Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd is known for blood purification. As it has a high concentration of antioxidants that is also effective to improve blood circulation. It removes the toxic and unwanted particles and purifies the blood. Pure blood is good for the heart as well as the skin.

Good for the eye.

Eye health by karela might be surprising for you. But, it is true. Karela has vitamin A in high levels that is effective to prevent cataracts and also increases eyesight vision. Except that, it also lightens the dark circle by boosting blood circulation.

Healing Capacity

For natural healing, karela is one of the foods. It supports healing for wounds and injuries by controlling the blood flow and blood clotting around them. From the Ayurveda time, Bitter Gourd is known for natural and quick healing as well as reducing infection on the skin.

Karela (Bitter Gourd) Precaution

Karela is an important herb that is used for health. The use of Karela is safe for up to 4 months. For more months, it is suggested to recommend healthcare professionals. Like other herbs, fruits and vegetables, it is also important to consider the Karela precaution before starting to use it.

  • If you are a pregnant woman, then you should avoid the Karela or bitter gourd. It is possibly not safe because it contains certain chemicals that might harm the baby.
  • Breastfeeding women should also avoid using bitter gourd. There is not enough information about it, so it is good to avoid it.
  • If you are suffering from Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, then it might be harmful and might cause severe anaemia. You should avoid it or consult a healthcare professional.
  • As Kerala is known to manage sugar control, it is good to avoid it before 2 weeks after surgery.
  • If you are on diabetic medication, then it is important to avoid the Karela intake without a healthcare professional. It might lower your blood sugar more than expected.
  • The use of Karela or Karela extract is not for the children.

Karela (Bitter Gourd) Dosage

Many ingredients and food have a daily intake guideline for better effect. As per the FSSAI(Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), karelas also has RDA(Recommended Dietary Allowance) value that suggested daily intake of Karela:-

  • Fresh fruit/seed- 30-50 g (as seed)
  • Dried fruit/seed- 3-5 g (as seed)
  • Extract- 0.5-1 g

Consuming Karela is not recommended for the females planning to conceive and children below 5 years. Rather than, you can use it as per the health care professional guide. The use of any natural food or ingredient for more than a limited dose is not good. Hence, to overdose the karela as fresh or extract is not good for the body.

Since there are individual differences in the amount of bitterness component (poison) that can be tolerated, it depends on the physical condition of the eater. If you eat a lot of bitter gourds and feel sick, it's overeating. Listen carefully to your body and avoid eating too much.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on Karela (Bitter Gourd)

What is karela good for?

Karela benefits are many because it contains many vitamins and minerals. It has antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and immunomodulatory properties. It is beneficial to lower diabetes, control weight, reduce cholesterol, support skin and hair health, blood purification and many more.

What is the side effect of karela?

Bitter gourd benefits the body until you do not overdose on it. The excess use of karela causes Abdominal pain, Diarrhoea, Headache, fever, coma, disturb the blood sugar level and many more.

Can you eat karela every day?

Yes, you can eat Karela every day. According to the FSSAI, it is suggested to have Karela every day. Just make sure about the amount of Karela. There is some limit for the Karela like other natural herbs and vegetables.

What is karela called in English?

The karela in English name is Bitter Gourd and Bitter Melon.

Can we drink milk after eating karela?

It is not good to drink milk right after the karela. Milk acts as a laxative and Karela has diuretic properties, hence there is a high chance of clash function. It is not suggested to drink or consume both together. At least, keep a gap of around 1-2 hours.

What are the benefits of bitter gourd?

Bitter Gourd is linked with many benefits to the body. It is highly known for the blood sugar level, cholesterol level and blood purification due to its bitter melon taste. Experience several benefits of bitter gourd with regular use of it.

Who should not eat bitter gourd?

Pregnant, Lactating women, people who are on diabetic medication, etc should avoid the use of bitter gourd. At the note point, make sure to always consult the healthcare professional.

Can we eat bitter gourd daily?

 Yes, you can eat bitter gourd daily. It is very healthy to consume bitter gourd or bitter gourd juice in regular life for a better healthy lifestyle. Just make sure about the dose. Do not overdose on the Bitter Gourd.

Is bitter gourd good for kidney?

Yes, bitter gourd or karela is good for the kidney. It is a natural vegetable to help break down the stone from the Karela. In addition, it is also helpful to reduce the high acid from the kidney and protect the kidney from serious problems. It is ideal to use karela or karela juice when you have a stone or kidney problem.

How to make karela juice?

Bring 2-3 karela. Chop them in small parts. Grind them in a grinder. You can add water for proper grinding. Make a thin paste. For better taste, you can also add lemon and honey as per your taste. Drink and enjoy the benefits of karela juice.

How much karela juice to drink everyday?

The regular use of Karela Juice is ideal. It is recommended and good for you to mix 10-15ml of pure karela juice in a glass of water. It is very difficult to drink pure karela juice. Well, if you can, you can drink it. It is absolutely safe to drink as well in pure form. 

What is the taste of bitter gourd?

The taste of bitter gourd is bitter, that is why it is named bitter gourd, It is very obvious.

How to grow bitter gourd at home?

If you want to grow bitter gourd at home, then follow these steps. Before coming to the growing process, bitter gourd required a very hot and humid climate to grow well. Buy bitter gourd seeds from the market or you can also dry some seeds from the fresh bitter gourds. Plant bitter gourd seeds in the soil where it will get 68 hours of direct sunlight. Make sure to keep good humidity too. After 8-10 days, it strat germinate. With time, it became a plant. It will take 55-66 days to mature.

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