Karela (Momordica Charantia) is a tropical plant belonging to the Cucurbitacea family. It produces green cucumber-shaped fruits, covered with protuberances, which open up into three parts once ripe, releasing red seeds.
Native to South Asia and South America, bitter melon, also known as Goya or bitter gourd, thrives in hot and humid climates, including Africa, Aisa, South America and the Caribbean. Usually karela are consumed cooked like zucchini, after having thrown all the cooking water, where the characteristic bitter taste is transferred.
A food for our health
Bitter melon is rich in phytonutrients, such as dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. In particular, it contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus and manganese, as well as iron, beta-carotene and potassium.
In traditional medicine in the South of the world and in India karela is used as a remedy for diabetes. In fact, it contains gurmarin, a polypeptide capable of regulating the level of sugars in the blood and acting as an immunomodulator.
Moreover, numerous studies have found that bitter melon is extremely useful for the treatment of some types of tumors.
The antitumor properties of bitter melon seem to be confirmed by a clinical study conducted by the University of Colorado, which highlighted the correlation between the consumption of this food and the reduction in the size of pancreatic tumors by 64%.
A study conducted in 2010, on the other hand, has shown that the extract of this fruit also inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells and can therefore be used as a dietary supplement for the prevention of this disease.
But the health benefits are not limited to cancer. Karela is useful in the treatment of asthma, skin infections, stomach problems, hypertension, and diabetes.
It is very popular in India, where it is often served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, seasoned with curry or stuffed with spices and then cooked in oil. In South Indian cuisine, it is used in toran (mixed with grated coconut), in mezhukkupuratti (together with spices) and in tial (cooked with roasted coconut). Other popular recipes include preparations with peanuts, walnuts and fried onions, lentils and pickled vegetables.
It gives a luminous skin and shiny hair
Bitter gourd juice has powerful antioxidant constituents such as vitamin A and C, biotin and zinc that prevent premature skin aging and diminish wrinkles. In addition, it reduces acne and helps treat eczema as well as, as already mentioned, psoriasis. It also protects the skin from harmful UV rays.
These elements also give shine to the hair. Regularly applying bitter gourd juice to the scalp can reduce hair loss and graying, split ends and dry hair, shake off dandruff and fight itch.
To treat dandruff, it is possible to make a mask for hair with bitter gourd juice, cumin seed paste and a tablespoon of lime juice. Leave to act for 30 minutes and then rinse.
Cosmetic and body use
Karela is used for a body tonic too! Let’s see how its juice is used to make you look prettier and healthier!
It is a pleasant moisturizer for the whole body
Due to its high water content, bitter gourd provides a moisturizing and refreshing effect to the whole body. In the suffocating heat, drinking bitter gourd juice helps maintain homeostasis.
It keeps the stomach fresh and also helps to reduce excessive body heat. Even the water lost due to deep sweating is reintegrated.
Great for the eyes
Karela helps prevent vision problems such as cataracts. It contains compounds like beta-carotene and vitamin A that are healthy for your eyes and strengthen your eyesight. It is also a good home remedy to treat dark circles!