Ridge gourd is the fruit of a sub-tropical vine that belongs to the cucumber family and is native to central and eastern Asia, including the Indian subcontinent. The plant is quite hardy and easy to cultivate and is even grown indoors in regions with colder climates. Ridge gourd is popular as a vegetable in various regional cuisines in Asia, but the fruit is only edible before it ripens. As it matures, the fruit becomes increasingly fibrous, which makes it unfit for consumption, but great for use as a loofah or scrubber!
The fruit should be used as a vegetable before it has matured completely, when it is still rather small and green, resembling a cucumber. Depending on where you reside, the fruit goes by many names including ridge gourd, ridged gourd, silk or silky gourd, sponge gourd, Chinese okra, angled luffa and vegetable gourd among others. The vegetable is often used in stir fries and soups in Vietnam and it is also an important feature in various regional cuisines in India, especially in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
What are the Health Benefits of Ridge Gourd?
Health gourd nutrition is not the only source of the health benefits of ridge gourd as the entire plant is found to have considerable medicinal value. Occasionally, the leaves and flowers of the plant are also used in cooking. In addition to ridge gourd vegetable, ridge gourd seeds are also filled with health benefits.
- Cerebroprotective effects: The cerebroprotective effect of petroleum ether extract of the whole plant was investigated in a study conducted on rats. Strokes were induced in the rats and the behavior and activities of the animals were closely monitored while 1 group was treated with the plant extract. The researchers observed that the group treated with the ridge gourd plant extract showed considerable behavioral improvement and believed that this is indicative of a cerebroprotective effect in global cerebral ischemia. Cerebral ischemia or brain ischemia is a condition in which inadequate blood flow to the brain results in the loss of or death of brain tissue because of poor oxygen supply.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Ridge gourd seeds may be used as a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic substance. Recent studies into the antioxidant potential of ridge gourd seeds or the seed extract confirm the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of the extract. According to researchers, these effects may be attributed to the high presence of flavonoids and phenolic acid in the seed extract. It is possible that the seed extract could be used as a natural ingredient to provide pain relief from certain inflammatory disorders.
- Antimicrobial Activity: It has long been used in Ayurveda medicine in India as a treatment for various conditions including fungal, viral and bacterial infections. Some studies have shown that the fruit and plant have potential use for their antimicrobial properties. Fruit powder of the ridge gourd was macerated with methanol and ethyl acetate and antibacterial activities were observed in both the methanol extract and the ethyl acetate extract. Both extracts had an inhibiting effect on different types of bacteria including E. coli, B. Subtilis, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus.
- Allergy Protection: Initial studies into certain homeopathic nasal sprays that contain luffa extract have found that the spray can relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies if regularly used for at least 42 days. Similarly, another homeopathic tablet that contains luffa extract has also been found to provide relief from symptoms of sinusitis.
- Weight Loss:Like cucumbers, ridge gourd has very high moisture content like cucumbers. The fruit is also rich in dietary fiber, while extremely low in saturated fats. This means that consuming ridge gourd will make you feel full a lot faster and it will also keep you satiated longer. This makes it the ideal snack between meals as well as this will help you avoid bingeing on junk foods and other unhealthy snacks.
In addition, many practitioners of naturopathy and traditional medicine also recommend the use of ridge gourd in the treatment of jaundice and other conditions that affect the liver. Including it in your diet is also believed to help treat ulcers and indigestion. The ant-inflammatory effects of the fruit may actually help in dealing with peptic ulcers. Other ongoing studies indicate that the plant extracts may offer some protection against cancer, while fruit extracts may also have antihyperlipidemic and antidiabetic activity.
Ridge Gourd Recipes
Ridge Gourd Stir FryIngredients
- Ridge Gourd – 1kg
- Onions – 3 Medium to Large
- Green Chilies – 8
- Garlic Paste – 6 Teaspoons
- Turmeric Powder – ½ teaspoon
- Coriander Powder – ½ teaspoon
- Groundnut Powder – 3 teaspoons
- Mustard Seeds – 2 teaspoons
- Curry Leaves – handful
- Peel the skin of the gourd and cut into small bite sized cubes.
- Chop onions finely and slice or dice the chilies.
- Pour some oil into a pan, but avoid using too much. (2-3 teaspoons should suffice)
- Add mustard seeds and as they begin to sputter add onions.
- After adding onions, throw in the chilies, curry leaves and garlic paste.
- As onions begin to turn brown add the ridge gourd and turmeric and coriander powder.
- Add salt, as required, and mix in the groundnut powder as well.
- Allow the dish to cook on a low flame and keep stirring frequently.
- The dish should be ready within five to ten minutes.