Bitter melon, a.k.a. bitter gourd or ampalaya, is the most bitter of all fruits. One has got to wonder how people learned to ingest it. To ask it plainly, who the heck first thought that this superlatively bitter fruit is edible? Is it helpful to the human body at all? What are the bitter melon nutrition facts?
This roughly warty, green tropical fruit is well-loved in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Vegetable eaters have grown to love its bitter flavor. They also eat the tip of the vine and leaves, which are as bitter. But there is a sweet side to the bitter melon. It is very nutritious and medicinal.
To start with, a hundred grams of bitter melon contains calcium (19 mg), carbohydrates (4 g), copper (0.034 mg), dietary fiber (3 g), dietary folate (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), Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, and zinc (0.8 mg).
Also, according to the USDA National Nutrient database, 100 grams of bitter melon contain Energy (with nutritional value of 17 Kcal), total fat (with nutritional value of 0.17 g), niacin (0.400 mg), pyridoxine (0.043 g), Riboflavin (0.040 mg), and Thiamin (0.040 mg).
That is just so much in just 100 grams. To say what the values mean in common language, bitter melon is richer in beta carotene than broccoli, in calcium than spinach and in potassium than banana. Bitter melon nutritional value is truly impressive.
It is traditionally believed in many countries around the world that one of the bitter melon health benefits is that it can improve digestion and therefore treat constipation, indigestion and dyspepsia; it can improve circulation and therefore promote slimming and good health; it can rejuvenate skin and therefore treat skin eruptions, burns, hemorrhoids, and psoriasis; it can treat hypertension, prevent eye complications, and purify blood; and its being bitter has something to do with it.
While scientific research and claims have yet to support some of the traditional healing beliefs surrounding the bitter gourd, modern science is currently looking into the properties of bitter melons to potentially cure cancer and inhibit HIV infection. Some research is also saying that bitter melon leaf extracts have antibacterial properties that fight off bacteria that cause urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal problems.
The most popular nutritional value of this bitter fruit is that it can lower blood sugar levels. This it does due to its two most important contents: polypeptide-P and charantin. Charantin is a hypoglycemin agent that increases glucose uptake and the synthesis of glycogen in liver, muscle and adipose tissue cells. This is why bitter melon (scientific name: “momordica charantia”) is said to effectively treat diabetes.
Until modern science approves it, bitter melon extracts and capsules should not be considered as stand-alone medicines. Diabetics should first consult their physicians when planning to include bitter gourd in their regimen. Still, they are an excellent supplement considering how many nutrients are packed in them. Although bitter and offensive to the taste buds, bitter melon nutrition facts make this odd vegetable desirable and sweet. Bitter is never the opposite of sweet or delicious. The bitterness of this vegetable is unique and flavorful on its own.