Bitter gourd or bitter melon is best known as a conventional and age old medicine for diabetes. Moreover, it has also been suggested through studies that bitter melon is beneficial in the treatment of chronic blood pressure and slow down viruses like HIV. Although, there is no standard dose for bitter melon, you can have it as per your preference. Some people eat a small melon everyday while others have it as a meal once a week. It is not only used in various recipes, but also consumed as a juice. For numerous proven health benefits bitter melon us considered to be the fruit of longevity.
Bitter melon, also referred as ‘karela’ or bitter gourd, has an extremely bitter taste, just as the name suggests. But, it is also an equally helpful food. Generally, bitter melon is enjoyed stuffed or added to stir fry. Besides, you can also add it as a supplement to the diet. Grown mainly in parts of Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, it is a fruit that looks like a cucumber. Generally, people use bitter melon as a food as well as a conventional medicine.
Bitter melon not only provides health benefits for adults, but for kids as well. Read ahead to know about these benefits, the nutritional value, when to introduce to kids, related precautions and side effects of bitter melon.
Bitter Melon and Nutritional Facts
Bitter melon or bitter gourd is a tender, young, edible fruit-pod in the Momordica genus of climbing vines, although its bitter taste makes people run away from it, it can really provide amazing health benefits through the virtue of various disease preventing and health promoting phyto chemical compounds.
Serving Size – 1 leaf (4gms)
|Amount per Serving
Calories 1 Calories from fat – 0
|Total Fat 0.03gms||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 0.13gms||0%|
|Vitamin A 69.36 IU||1%|
|Calcium 3.36 mg||0%|
|Iron 0.08 mg||0%|
When can I Introduce Bitter Melon to my Child?
There’s nothing like it if your child develops a taste for bitter melon. You can serve it as a side dish or stir fry stuffed with spices. You can introduce your child to bitter melon as soon as he starts to eat solids. However, start with small quantities at initial level. Increase the quantity gradually with growing age.
Health Benefits of Bitter Melon for Children
Liver Tonic: Bitter melon provides amazing benefits for liver. It works as an amazing liver tonic that not only aids digestion, but also improves gall bladder function and lowers fluid retention. Bitter melon is simply amazing for children with weak digestion. Serve bitter juice to your children at least twice a week for desired benefits. This would also relieve symptoms of irritable bowel system.
B-Vitamins: Bitter melon is a rich source of B-complex vitamins, like vitamin B3 (niacin), B6, (pyridoxine), B5 (pantothenic acid), and essential minerals like zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. All these vitamins and minerals are crucial for healthy growth and development of your child.
Contains Flavonoids: Bitter melon is loaded with health benefiting falvonoids like B-carotene, lutein, A-carotene, and zea-xanthin. It also carries a good amount of vitamin A. All these compounds combined together act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals.
Vitamin C enriched: Bitter melon contains good amount of vitamin C which is one of the most powerful natural antioxidants that help to scavenge the deleterious free radicals from the body.
Carbohydrate Digestion: This is a very important benefit of bitter melon for children with Type II diabetes as a birth defect. Carbohydrates turn to sugar, and bitter melon metabolizes the sugars. Faster digestion of carbohydrates implies storage of lesser fat in the body, thus providing weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. Furthermore, proper carbohydrate digestion also provides healthy growth and development of muscles.
Rich Source of Vitamin K: Bitter melon is a rich source of vitamin K. Vitamin K contributes to bone health and blood clotting while being an effective anti-inflammatory. The addition of bitter melon to your child’s diet satisfies the daily nutritional need for vitamin K. Furthermore, bitter melon also supplies dietary fiber.
Boosts Immunity: A healthy immune system is important to keep away potential infections and diseases. It works amazingly to prevent or stop a cold instantly while simultaneously benefiting the digestive system. Furthermore, it prevents and curbs food allergies, and helps get rid of yeast infections in the most natural way. And, to add to the benefits, bitter melon provides relief from indigestion and acid reflux.
Weight Loss: The large number of antioxidants present in bitter melon helps to get rid of free radicals, thus implying reduced chances of getting cancer or other chronic diseases. Moreover, bitter melon boosts up metabolism to aid healthy weight loss. The basic reason is the high content of water in bitter melon thus preventing your child from excessive intake of calories.
Asthma: Bitter melon is simply great for breathing problems like bronchitis, asthma, and similar allergies. For breathing problems, give bitter melon in the form of juice to your child, mixed with water and added honey for improvement of health. Bitter melon is great for bedtime as it provides a calming effect and aids sleep.
Skin Health: The antioxidants contained in bitter melons work to preserve the skin health. Giving bitter melon to your teenage child can prevent the skin diseases occurring due to hormonal changes. Bitter melon also reduces the possibility of getting any infection of the skin.
Although bitter melon has numerous health benefits, not only for adults, but also for children, it should not be served in excess quantity. Bitter melon might contain alkaloid substances like morodicine and quinine, resins and saponic glycosides, which might cause intolerance in children. The bitterness and toxicity can be reduced by soaking or parboiling in water.
Most importantly, it is important to check if your child is allergic to bitter melon. Check for symptoms like facial redness, excessive salivation, and stomach pain, dimness of vision, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and muscular weakness. If you notice any of these symptoms after introducing your child to bitter melon, it is wise to stop the intake and consult a doctor at the earliest.