Bitter Melon (Bitter Gourd) Health Benefits, Nutrition and Fruit Facts

Health Benefits of Eating Bitter Melons (Bitter Gourds)

  • Treat Diabetes

    Bitter melons are a good source of a phytonutrient known as polypeptide-P. This useful compound is very effective in lowering blood sugar levels. Also, the nutritious fruit is loaded with charantin, a hypoglycemic agent that can significantly raise glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis. Together these two compounds provide therapeutic values against type II diabetes.
  • Fight HIV

    Initial laboratory tests have shown that ribosome inactivating proteins or RIPs found abundantly in bitter gourds contain therapeutic effects against HIV. RIPs consist of alpha-momarchorin, beta-momarchorin and MAP-30. Research has proven that MAP-30 is capable of slowing down infection of HIV-1 in monocytes and T-lymphocytes and also replication of HIV-1.
  • Cancer Aid

    A recent study has found that bitter melon extracts help reduce the size of tumor in Swiss albino mice. The extracts are full of antioxidants, which also promote high free radical scavenging activity, which is important in preventing cancer. The merits of bitter melons can be extended to the rich content of lenolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, in bitter melon seed oil that helps protect you against colon cancer. Another scientific study done by Nagoya City University also found bitter melon leaf extracts powerful for healing of prostate cancer.
  • Great for High Blood Pressure

    Apart from the many health advantages mentioned earlier, drinking bitter gourd tea helps eliminate bad fats. A study by the University of Botswana has shown that bitter gourd assists your body in reducing LDL cholesterol and triglyceride, while boosting the HDL cholesterol levels. It is an excellent food to include in the diet of patients with hypertension.
  • Beneficial for Weight Loss

    Most scientists agree that the typical insulin resistance can be related to overweight and obesity. Research has found many health properties of bitter gourds, including getting rid of insulin resistance, which is good for weight loss.
  • Packed with Nutrients

    Bitter melons contain a variety of phytonutrients, namely vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. 100 g of the fruit supplies you 140% of RDA of the potent antioxidant vitamin C. Other nutrients found include B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese. They are good for the wellness of your body. 

Facts about Bitter Gourds

Fresh Bitter Melons or Bitter Gourds

The bitter melon (scientific name Momordica charantia L.) belongs to the cucurbit family, and is a popular ingredients in Asian cuisines. It has a few other common names such as bitter gourd, balsam pear and karela. The culinary fruit can be found at Asian markets, in season, and is available in preserved form at times. You may grow bitter melon in your garden with a greenhouse, if you do not live in a tropical area.

Bitter melons have a roughly oblong shape and bright green in color. When sliced, the fruit is hollow, with only a thin layer of seeds which become bright red when the fruit is ripe. However, bitter gourds are mostly eaten before they are fully ripe. They are used as a vegetable in stir-fry, made into bitter melon tea, soup and tinctures.

In Asia, bitter gourds are employed for medicinal uses. It is believed to have antimalarial properties, with capability to treat digestive problems. In some countries, they are produced into plant-source insulin to treat diabetes. 

Bitter Melon Nutrition Facts and Calories

Nutritional Value of 1 cup (93 g) Raw Bitter Melon (1/2-inch pieces)
Calories 16 kcal
Total Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars - g
Protein 1 g


Bitter Melon Recipe

Bitter Melon Juice Recipe

Make: 1 glass

  • 1 bitter gourd, rinsed, seeded and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt


  1. Blend the bitter gourd with the water in a blender. Strain through a sieve. Add the lemon juice and salt according to your preferences and serve. 

Bitter Melon Side Effects

People who take medications to control diabetes have to be careful as eating bitter melon may further lower the blood sugar levels. Those with G6PD deficiency should avoid bitter melon to avoid the risk of favism. Pregnant women should also avoid the fruit as abortion has been recorded in animals.

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