Bitter gourd or bitter melon, commonly known as karela in Hindi, is probably not among one of our most favoured vegetables, but most of us are aware of the fact that it's incredibly beneficial for our health. The bitter green vegetable is one that our mothers have been trying to get us to eat for years, albeit very unsuccessfully. No matter how creatively it's cooked or how many spices are used to mask the bitter flavour of this vegetable, a mention of it on the dinner table is very likely to elicit a few scrunched noses and disapproving looks from all around. However, Indians have managed to somehow make it palatable by adding souring agents and flavourful spices while cooking it. Karela or bitter gourd, despite its infamous taste, is still regarded quite highly by health freaks, for its bounty of beneficial nutrients, which are essential for our overall well-being.
Bitter gourd is added to smoothies and green juices, to enhance their nutritional profile. One of the main benefits of bitter gourd juice or karela juice is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Another one of its wondrous benefits is cleansing the liver naturally. It also aids weight loss. However, there is another way to load up on the benefits of bitter gourd and that is through bitter gourd tea. It's not a very popular beverage (for obvious reasons!) but has a number of health benefits.
Bitter Melon Tea Benefits
Drinking bitter melon tea is great for people with diabetes, slow metabolism, high cholesterol levels, a weak immune system, digestive issues, or a a risk of cancer.
Possibly Rich in Vitamin C
With possibly high levels of ascorbic acid, bitter melon tea can be very helpful for stimulating the immune system. Vitamin C can increase the production of white blood cells, and can also act as an antioxidant within the body, suppressing oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
May Have Anticancer Potential
Several studies, including the 2016 paper published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, highlight the anti-cancer properties of the bitter melon. The tea, made of the fruit and other parts of the vine, may be packed with the same advantages.
Compounds found in bitter gourd may include cucurbitane type triterpenoids as well as karaviloside III. Both these compounds are said to have exhibited anticancer properties during independent researches. The study also brought to light the potential of karaviloside III to be developed as a chemotherapy agent for the treatment of hepatic fibrosis or carcinoma, and protection against both diseases.
May Help Fight Chronic Disease
The high antioxidant levels found in bitter melon tea may make it ideal for preventing chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, as well as autoimmune diseases. As a full-body tonic, this tea has a wide variety of applications in human health.
May Help Increase Metabolic Activity
The rich supply of B-family vitamins found in bitter melon makes this tea excellent for stimulating and optimizing the metabolic activities of the body. This can result in a more efficient hormonal and metabolic function, including passive fat-burning.
May Improve Heart Health
Bitter melon tea is known to have been connected to lower triglyceride levels in the body, which can mean less harmful deposition of cholesterol in the arteries. This can help to prevent athrosclerosis, as well as coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
May Regulate Diabetic Symptoms
One of the possible uses of bitter melon tea may be for the regulation of diabetic symptoms. According to a study published in the Journal of Lipids, compounds like vicine and charantin are able to lower blood sugar levels by regulating carbohydrate metabolism. This may prevent the spikes and drops in glucose levels that can be dangerous to diabetic patients. However, further studies are required to conduct more double-blind randomized experiments with bitter melon extracts in diabetes patients as well as in the obese population.
May Improve Digestion
This herbal tea has been traditionally used to treat stomach-aches, inflammation in the gut, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. This can also help to optimize digestion and increase nutrient uptake while eliminating symptoms of constipation and diarhea.
May Help Detoxify the Body
Although an excess of bitter melon tea can result in liver damage and in appropriate amounts can eliminate inflammation of the liver. This not only keeps the liver functioning well but can also moderate liver-induced skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
May Improve Vision Health
Notable levels of vitamin A mean that this herbal tea can also be excellent for improving vision health. Vitamin A is derived from beta-carotene and acts as an antioxidant that can prevent macular degeneration and slow the development of cataracts
How To Make Bitter Gourd Tea
You can easily make bitter gourd or bitter melon tea at home. All you need for the herbal concoction is some dried or fresh slices of bitter gourd, some water and optionally, any natural sweetener like honey or agave syrup. The tea may also be made from dried leaves of bitter gourd, but you may use the gourd itself as it's more easily available. All you need to do to make this tea is bring the water to a boil in a pot and add the dried or dehydrated karela slices to it. Let the water boil for 10 minutes on medium heat so that all the nutrients of the bitter gourd are seeped into it. Remove the water from flame and let the slices steep in it for some more time. Filter the contents of the pot out into a teapot or individual cups. Add some honey or other sweetener to it, to give the tea some taste and voila! However, it's best to avoid the sweeteners, if the tea is being consumed primarily to regulate blood sugar levels.
Bitter Melon Tea Recipe
Enjoy the mild, nutty taste of this nutritious herbal drink!
- 2 cups of dried (or fresh) bitter melon
- 2 cups of water (filtered)
- 1 tsp honey or sugar (if desired)
To make bitter melon tea, bring the water to a boil in a pot and then add the chopped bitter melon.
Then, put the lid on the pot and let it boil for 10 minutes at medium heat.
Turn the heat off and take the pot down from the stove. Allow it to steep for an additional 10 minutes without a lid on top.
Now strain the mixture into a teapot or glasses
In the end, add a teaspoon of honey or sugar, if required, and enjoy the hot beverage!
Notes: If you want to turn down the bitterness of the vegetable, soak the chopped bitter melon for 1/2 an hour before going ahead with the recipe. You can also parboil it for 2 min. Once done, set it aside, pour off the water, rinse it properly and then proceed ahead with the recipe. It would also be advisable for you to consult a doctor for the exact dosage if you are undergoing treatment for cholesterol or diabetes.