bitter melon benefits bitter melon nutrition, bitter melon recipes, bitter melon diabetes
updated on December 12, 2011
Select firm, unblemished melons that are from 5 to 12 inches in length. Choose melons that are still green for a more
bitter flavor and a yellow-orange melon for a milder taste. Bitter melons are available fresh from April to September in
most Asian markets and can occasionally be found in larger supermarkets. Some markets are beginning to carry bitter
melons year round. They may also be purchased canned or dried.

Store melon loose in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Slice the melon immediately before use.

Cut in half and discard the seeds and fibrous core. To reduce the bitterness, blanch in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes.
The skin is edible and the melon is not typically peeled. The seeds are also edible, unless very hard, and are included
in some recipes. Bitter melon is commonly stuffed, curried or pickled. It can also be used in stir-fry’s and soups
and may be steamed. Garlic or chili peppers are often added to recipes with bitter melon to offset the bitter taste.

bitter melon recipes

Recipe-Stuffed Bitter Melon
4 bitter melon about 3 inches long (if longer cut into 3 inch pieces)
1 cup onion finely chopped
½ cup green chile finely chopped
½ Tbsp ginger root finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Tbsp coriander chopped
3 tsp canola oil
2 tsp flour
½ tsp red chile powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp powdered coriander
¼ tsp powdered tumeric
½ tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp cumin seed

Wash bitter melon thoroughly with water. If bitter melons are of longer variety, cut them into 3 inch pieces. Remove skin
by scraping with a sharp knife. Keep the skin aside. Slit the bitter melons length wise. Remove the seeds. Discard the
seeds if very hard, otherwise mix them with the skin scrapings. Blanch the bitter melon in boiling water. Heat a nonstick
frying pan and add 2 teaspoon oil. When the oil becomes hot, add cummin seeds. When the seeds become dark, add
onion, green chile, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add all the spices. Stir well and cook until the mixture
turns light brown, about 5-7 minutes. Mix half the coriander leaves. Take the bitter melon skin in a sieve and wash

Fill the bitter melon with the above mixture. Heat and spray oil on a nonstick frying pan. Place all the bitter melons in
the pan, cover with a lid and reduce the stove to low. Let them cook for 7 minutes. Change the side of bitter melons
and again cover with the lid. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 31, Calories from Fat 24%, Fat 1g, Protein 1g, Carbohydrates 5g, Fiber 1g,
Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 329mg.

What products of bitter melon in the market?
Bitter melon leaves, fruits and seeds are used to prepare tea. Some manufacturers blend bitter melon and green tea
leaves to produce a refreshing and cooling effects.
However, its fruits and seed are mainly used to prepare supplements, as they are believed to contain more
"anti-diabetic properties".

The health benefits of bitter melon on diabetes and some other diseases have been known for centuries, though
related scientific supports are limited.  Some people like to have bitter melon in their dinner plates, because of its
bitter-tasting. At high doses, it may cause unpleasant adverse events or side effects.

[1] Cicero AF et al, What do herbalists suggest to diabetic patients in order to improve glycemic control? Evaluation of scientific evidence and potential risks.
Acta Diabetol. 2004 Sep;41(3):91-8. [2] Jia W et al, Antidiabetic herbal drugs officially approved in China. Phytother Res. 2003 Dec;17(10):1127-34. [3] Basch
E et al, Bitter melon (Momordica charantia): a review of efficacy and safety. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2003 Feb 15;60(4):356-9. [4] Shapiro K et al, Natural
products used for diabetes. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash).  2002 Mar-Apr;42(2):217-26. [5] Ansari NM et al, Antioxidant activity of five vegetables traditionally
consumed by south-Asian migrants in Bradford, Yorkshire, UK. Phytother Res. 2005 Oct;19(10):907-11. [6] Senanayake GV et al, The effects of bitter melon
(Momordica charantia) extracts on serum and liver lipid parameters in hamsters fed cholesterol-free and cholesterol-enriched diets. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol
(Tokyo). 2004 Aug;50(4):253-7. [7] Deep G et al, Cancer preventive potential of Momordica charantia L. against benzo(a)pyrene induced fore-stomach
tumourigenesis in murine model system. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004 Mar;42(3):319-22. [8] Kohno H et al, Dietary seed oil rich in conjugated linolenic acid from
bitter melon inhibits azoxymethane-induced rat colon carcinogenesis through elevation of colonic PPARgamma expression and alteration of lipid
composition. Int J Cancer. 2004 Jul 20;110(6):896-901. [9] Senanayake GV et al, The effects of bitter melon (Momordica charantia) on serum and liver
triglyceride levels in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Apr;91(2-3):257-62. 10. Basch E, Gabardi S, Ulbricht C. Bitter melon ( Momordica charantia): a review of
efficacy and safety. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2003;60:356-359. Source for the recipe, introduction and image: CDC Online Publication, November 29, 2005

[A1] Cancer Lett. 2011 Jul 28;306(2):142-50] [A2] Nerurkar PV et al, J Neuroinflammation. 2011 Jun 3;8(1):64.] [A3]
Das P, et al, Screening of antihelminthic effects of Indian plant extracts: a preliminary report. J Altern Complement Med.
2006 Apr;12(3):299-301 [A4] Amorim CZ, et al, Screening of the antimalarial activity of plants of the Cucurbitaceae
family. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86 Suppl 2:177-80. A5 Sonibare MA, et al, Use of medicinal plants for the
treatment of measles in Nigeria. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Mar 18;122(2):268-72. [A6] Puri M, et al, Ribosome
inactivating proteins (RIPs) from Momordica charantia for anti viral therapy. Curr Mol Med. 2009 Dec;9(9):1080-94 [A7]
Zambenedetti P, et al, Histochemical localization of glycoconjugates on microglial cells in Alzheimer's disease brain
samples by using Abrus precatorius, Maackia amurensis, Momordica charantia, and Sambucus nigra lectins. Exp
Neurol. 1998 Sep;153(1):167-71. [A8] Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Website] [A9] Dandagi PM, et al,
Development and evaluation of hepatoprotective polyherbal formulation containing some indigenous medicinal plants.
Indian J Pharm Sci. 2008 Mar-Apr;70(2):265-8.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia; kǔguā; 苦瓜) is actually a member of the squash family and resembles a cucumber with bumpy skin. Bitter melon
bears simple alternate leaves. Each bitter melon plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers; its fruit has an oblong shape. When first
picked, a bitter melon is yellow-green, but as it ripens, it turns to a yellow-orange color. As the fruit ripens, the flesh becomes tougher and more
bitter. Bitter melon has a variety of shapes and sizes. The Chinese one is 20-30 cm long, oblong and pale green in color. The inside of the melon is
filled with fibrous seeds.

Bitter melon is used mostly in Asian and Indian cooking. Bitter melon is generally consumed cooked in the green stage. In Chinese cooking, bitter
melon is typically stir-fried, or 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 with curry, deep fired with peanuts or other nuts. Bitter melon has been used for diabetes, and other conditions such as
gastrointestinal diseases, malaria, chickenpox, measles, and cancers. 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).

Other Name: foo qua, balsam pear, or bitter gourd.
Discuss with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine. This article is for
reference only, it is not a medical advice. All rights reserved. Do not copy this article to
other website or blog.
Bitter Melon Health Benefits

Anti-oxidative Activity
Boiled bitter melon extracts show anti-oxidant activities. Extracts from bitter melon (Momordica charantia,
Cucurbitaceae) showed a significant difference in the free radical scavenging activity  between the extract obtained by
using cold maceration and that prepared by boiling the plant in the solvent under reflux, suggesting the chemical
composition of the plant changed during the heating process, leading to an increase in the amount of antioxidant
components. [5] It is believed that its strong anti-oxdative activity allows the variety of health benefits of bitter melon.

Alzheimer's disease
Four lectins (Abrus precatorius (APA), Maackia amurensis (MAA), Bitter Melon and Sambucus nigra (SNA)) have been
used to identify glycohistochemically the microglial cells (MGC) activation in autoptic brain samples from Alzheimer's
disease subjects. Three of these lectins including the one from bitter melon have utilized as microglial cell markers for
the first time. [A7] It would be interesting to see if there is any benefit of bitter melon on Alzheimer's disease.

Bitter melon extracts may provide benefits for cancers as they have shown anti-cancer activities in a study of Swiss
albino mice. A significant decrease in tumor burden was observed in short and long-term treatment. Also, total tumor
incidence reduced to 83.33% with 2.5% dose and 90.90% with 5% dose in short term treatment, while in long-term
treatment tumor incidence decreased to 76.92% with 2.5% dose and 69.23% with 5% dose of bitter melon. [7] Seed oil
from bitter melon (Momordica charantia), which is rich in cis(c)9, trans(t)11, t13-conjugated linolenic acid, has been
shown to inhibit the development of azoxymethane-induced colonic aberrant crypt foci. Seed oil from bitter melon rich in
t13-conjugated linolenic acid can suppress azoxymethane -induced colon carcinogenesis and the inhibition might be
caused, in part, by modification of lipid composition in the colon and liver and/or increased expression of PPARgamma
protein level in the colon mucosa. [8]

Furthermore, Pitchakarn P and other researchers at Nagoya City University demonstrated the possibly beneficial effects
of a bitter melon leaf extract on prostate cancer in a cell study. [A1]

Cholesterol profiles
Bitter melon may also have benefits of lipid-lowering activities. Researchers have shown the hypolipidemic effect of
dietary methanol fraction (BMMF) extracted from bitter melon (Koimidori variety), at the levels of 0.5% and 1.0%, in male
golden Syrian hamsters. [6] The results of another study have clearly shown that that bitter melon, especially Koimidori
variety, exhibited a potent liver triglyceride-lowering activity. The triglyceride lowering activity was furthermore confirmed
by the dose-dependent reduction of hepatic triglyceride, resulting the lowest level in rats fed 3.0% supplementation. [9]
With limited scientific supports, bitter melon is general believed to benefit diabetes. In a study, researchers from University of Bologna, Italy, asked
720 herbalists what herbal remedy that they would recommend to those suffered from diabetes. They suggested ten herbal remedies and bitter
melon is in the list. [1] According to a review article, bitter melon has been recognized as a Chinese herbal medicine for
diabetes mellitus for
centuries. [2] And, it is more popular in Asia to be used as a natural product for diabetes. [4] Researchers from Natural Standard, MA, consider
bitter melon an alternative therapy that has primarily been used for lowering blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes mellitus. Components of
bitter melon extract appear to have structural similarities to animal insulin. Bitter melon has been shown to have anti-viral and anti-neoplastic
activities. [3] Small trials have shown the moderate hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon juice, fruit or its dried powder.  Thus, bitter melon may benefit
certain people at risk of diabetes.

High Fat Diet
How may bitter melon benefit those on high fat diet? Increased metabolic flux to the brain during overnutrition and obesity can orchestrate stress
response, blood-brain barrier disruption, recruitment of inflammatory immune cells from peripheral blood and microglial cells activation leading to
neuroinflammation. Mice were fed high fat diet with and without bitter melon for 16 weeks. Bitter melon ameliorated high fed diet-associated changes
in blood brain barrier permeability. High fat diet-induced brain oxidative stress was also significantly reduced by bitter melon supplementation. [A2]

Ribosome inactivating proteins (RIPs) from bitter melon shows promising in anti-viral therapy. It has been reported that RIPs are member of the
single chain ribosome inactivating protein (SCRIP) family which act irreversibly on ribosome by removing adenine residue from eukaryotic ribosomal
RNA. Various activities of RIPs include anti-tumor, broad anti-viral, ribonuclease and deoxyribonuclease. [A6]

Liver Damage
In a study, a formulation (containing Ferula asafetida, bitter melon and Nardostachys jatamansi) demonstrated significant hepatoprotective activity.
[A9] But, this does not mean bitter melon itself has hepato-protective effects. More studies are needed to demonstrate its benefits on liver.

Oral administration of the Crude ethanolic extracts of dry bitter melon leaves administered orally was ineffective up to 500 mg/kg in lowering the
parasitemic levels of malarious mice. [A4]

An ethnobotanical survey of three Local Government areas of the Ijebu area of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria for plants used in the treatment of
measles suggests bitter melon is one of the most frquently used plants for measles. [A5]

Das P and co-workers at Visva Bharati University, India, assayed six plant extracts for their activity against free-living nematodes. Bitter melon
yielded the best results, its crude extract producing 96% mortality. Thus, bitter melon may have the benefits of antihelminthic effect. [A3]

Kidney Stone
Insufficient data to support the health benefit claim of bitter melon on people suffered from kidney stones. [as of December 2011]

Insufficient data to support the health benefit claim of bitter melon on people suffered from psoriasis. [as of December
Bitter Melon Side Effects, Warnings and Precautions

Bitter melon has been eaten as a food in many cultures for many years, it probably is safe to healthy adults at regular amount of consumption when
used short-term. However, covering on seed may be toxic in children, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and death. Intake of the seed may lead to
favism, especially those with G6PD deficiency. Hypoglycemia and hypatotoxicity were reported in animal studies Rare, unusual side effects may
include atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response and acute gastric ulceration. [A8] Other possible bitter melon side effects include liver
inflammation, and spontaneous abortion. [10] Pregnant women should avoid bitter melon.

Drug Interaction
Bitter melon may also have additive effects when taken with other glucose-lowering agents. [3] Popular medications for diabetes include glimepiride,
glyburide, insulin, pioglitazone, rosiglitazone, chlorpropamide, glipizide, tolbutamide, and others.

Bitter melon is a food. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bitter melon.