A tropical fruit that is native to Asia, bitter melon has several benefits for our health. Read our latest blog post to discover more about this fascinating fruit.
As fruits go, bitter melon is pretty unique. Its distinctive warty green exterior is eye-catching enough, but it also claims the title of the bitterest of all fruits and vegetables. Unlike most fruits, which sweeten as they ripen, this one actually gets more bitter the riper it gets.
That bitter flavour might sound off-putting, but bitter melon is in fact prized as an ingredient in many Asian cuisines. It’s used in stir-fries, curries, and salads. Pairing this fruit with spicy, salty, or sweet ingredients helps to balance its astringent flavour and its sharpness adds an extra something to savoury dishes.
However, if you’re still not convinced this member of the gourd family is worth your time, you should stop to consider the health benefits that come from incorporating it into your daily diet.
Bitter melon has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for thousands of years. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is seen as a cooling, purifying ingredient. It is said to reduce inflammation, combat the heat of summer, sharpen the vision, and clear the body of toxins.
Meanwhile, in Ayurveda, the holistic traditional healing system that originates in India, bitter melon is prized for its astringent taste. Used medicinally, it is said to aid the digestion, purify the blood, cleanse wounds, and support weight loss.
Although it originates in Asia, bitter melon is increasingly becoming popular in the West too. Modern science has confirmed many of the traditional uses of this herbal remedy, showing that it can lower blood sugar, support weight loss, and protect your heart health.
Let’s look a little closer at the health benefits of bitter melon.
What are the benefits of bitter melon?
From lowering blood sugar and cholesterol to supporting weight loss, there are many reasons to incorporate bitter melon into your daily diet. Here are some of the ways this sharp-tasting fruit can benefit your health.
1. Reduce Blood Sugar
Perhaps the best-known benefit of bitter melon is its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. It contains active ingredients that help your body produce the right amount of insulin and use sugar more effectively.
2. Support Weight Loss
Another popular use of bitter melon is supporting weight management. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this astringent fruit is often recommended as a treatment for obesity, and it has increasingly gained attention as a weight-loss supplement in the Western world too.
Bitter melon is low in calories and high in fibre and other nutrients, which makes it a diet-friendly food. However, its benefits go beyond this – research shows that taking bitter melon can help with fat burning. It also contains compounds which help to suppress appetite.
3. Lower Cholesterol
As well as lowering blood sugar levels, bitter melon has shown potential for protecting our heart health by lowering our cholesterol levels.
In particular, bitter melon seems to lower levels of LDL cholesterol – the type of cholesterol that is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also reduce the levels of triglycerides in the blood. Like LDL cholesterol, triglycerides are a type of fat that can raise your risk of heart disease.
4. Protect Against Cancer
In case protecting your heart and combatting diabetes weren’t enough, there’s also increasing evidence that bitter melon might be a valuable ally in the fight against cancer.
Bitter melon is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, both of which can help to lower the risk of chronic diseases like cancer. And the active compounds in bitter melon can even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
How to Get More Bitter Melon in Your Diet
As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to make bitter melon a regular feature of your diet. If you are a keen cook, there are plenty of Asian recipes you can try that make a virtue of the sharp taste of this bitter fruit.
Another option is to drink bitter melon in a herbal tea. This is a traditional way of using bitter melon as a herbal medicine and is especially good if you are managing your weight since herbal tea is both hydrating and low in calories.
To balance that astringent flavour, we like to combine bitter melon with other ingredients to make a delicious herbal tea with plenty of benefits for your health.
It’s the star ingredient in our NutraGlycemia tea blend, which is designed to support blood sugar management and reduce sugar cravings.