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Bitter Gourd - Not that Bitter for Life

Written by Thelma Simon, M.Sc Nursing, MBA (Hospital Management) | Article Reviewed by Dietitian julia samuel, M.Phil on Oct 12, 2020
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Bitter gourd or bitter melon as it is called has always been a neglected food among a large part of the population. But what we tend to forget is the wonderful health benefits that are hidden in this not-so-frequently-used vegetable.


Bitter gourd is rich in various vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. It has double the level of all these essential nutrients than those that are present in some other fruits and vegetables. The raw green form of the vegetable is more commonly used in consumption than the ripe yellow form.

Bitter Gourd - Not that Bitter for Life

People of Asian origin are generally more aware of this vegetable’s health benefits than their Western counterparts. Bitter gourd can be boiled, fried or eaten as a curry dish. Traditional medicine recommends drinking bitter gourd juice on an empty stomach in the morning to lower the blood sugar level and keep diabetes in check. This juice extracted by grinding bitter gourd is also known to clean the gut of worms and harmful germs.

The various health benefits that bitter gourd provides are as follows: It is used to treat various diseases including cholera, diabetes mellitus, eye disorders, sleep disorders, blood disorders, piles, constipation, indigestion, respiratory problems etc. Apart from treatment option, it is also an energy and immune boosting food that when consumed on a regular basis (say three to four times a week) gives enormous positive results for the human body. It also helps to remove the toxins from the liver.

Bitter gourd also has beauty effects where it helps to clean the blood from within, purifies the blood system and gives natural glowing skin free of acne and other skin disorders. The reason behind this is the presence of antioxidants in large quantity in this vegetable. If children are introduced to the taste of bitter gourd from a young age, they get used to the taste gradually and get accustomed to food preparations using bitter gourd. The vegetable helps strengthen the immune system in children, rendering them less vulnerable to diseases.



100 grams of bitter gourd comprises of the following nutrients:

  • Calcium - 19 mg
  • Copper - 0.034 mg
  • Dietary Fiber - 3 g
  • Dietary Folate Equivalents - 72 mcg
  • Folate - 72 mcg
  • Food Folate - 5.6 mcg
  • Iron - 0.43 mg
  • Magnesium - 17 mg
  • Manganese - 0.089 mg
  • Pantothenic Acid - 0.212 mcg
  • Phosphorus - 31 mg
  • Potassium - 296 mg
  • Protein - 1 g
  • Selenium - 0.2 mcg
  • Sodium - 5 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates - 4 g
  • Zinc - 0.8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 471 IU
  • Vitamin C – 84 mg
  • Total Fat - 0g
  • Saturated Fat - 0g
  • Cholesterol - 0 mg
  • Folic Acid - 0 mcg
  • Sugars - 0 g

Bitter melon or bitter gourd is generally cooked in the green stage. In Chinese cooking, bitter melon is typically stir-fried, or used for soups. Bitter melon tea is also available. In Indian cuisine, bitter melon is stuffed with spices and cooked in oil. It is also prepared as curry, deep fried with peanuts or other nuts or tossed lightly in a salad. It is believed that bitter melon's health benefits are due to its active ingredients - momordicins, cucurbitacin B, and glycosides (such as momordin, charantin, charantosides, goyaglycosides, momordicosides). Consume bitter gourd regularly and live a healthy life.


A Simple Bitter Gourd Recipe:


  • ½ kg Bitter gourd
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 5 – 6 pods of garlic
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp Asafetida
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


Slit the bitter gourd in the middle and remove all the seeds. Cut it into small pieces using a knife or a shredder. Add the cut onions, chilies (slit in the middle) and garlic pods, turmeric powder and salt along with the bitter gourd and allow them to boil. Remove from fire after 8 – 10mins.

Heat a frying pan, pour little oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard splutters add asafetida and the boiled contents after draining the water. Allow them to fry as needed. Remove from flame and add to your lunch or dinner. The drained water could be drunk as it is loaded with vitamins.

Balsam-pear (bitter gourd), pods, raw

The nutritional values of "Balsam-pear (bitter gourd), pods, raw" per 100 grams are:
Nutrition Summary
Total Calories 17
Protein 1 g
Fat 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 3.7 g
NutrientsAmount%Daily Value
Calcium, Ca 19 mg 1.9 %
Copper, Cu 0.03 mg 1.7 %
Iron, Fe 0.43  mg 2.39 %
Magnesium, Mg 17 mg 4.25 %
Manganese, Mn 0.09 mg 4.45 %
Phosphorus, P 31 mg 3.1 %
Potassium, K 296  mg 8.46 %
Selenium, Se 0.2 mcg 0.29 %
Sodium, Na 5 mg 0.21 %
Zinc, Zn 0.8 mg 5.33 %
Vitamin A 471  IU 9.42 %
Vitamin C 84 mg 140 %
Vitamin B6 0.04 mg 2.15 %
Vitamin E ~
Vitamin K ~
Riboflavin 0.04  mg 2.35 %
Thiamin 0.04 mg 2.67 %
Folate, DFE 72  mcg 18 %
Niacin 0.4  mg 2 %
Sugars ~
Fiber 2.8  g 11.2 %
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Water 94.03 g
Carotene, alpha 185 mcg
Carotene, beta 190  mcg
Choline ~
Lycopene ~
View all +
Data source: USDA Nutrient Database, R25
*Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.


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