As the name implies, the bottle gourd is a bottle shaped vegetable that is cultivated in the subtropical and tropical parts of the world. Also known by various names such as calabash, long melon and opo squash, this vegetable has been long used as a food and also as a water container. It comes in various sizes and shapes with a light green color and white flesh. Bottle gourd is full of nutrients and water, and consuming its juice has been found to offer many health benefits. Although it has powerful medicinal and therapeutic properties, many people ignore this vegetable simply because they are not aware of these benefits.
Nutritional value of bottle gourd
Bottle gourd is often called a dieter’s choice since it is low in calories and at the same time provides a whole range of health benefitting nutrients. A 100 gram serving of this gourd provides only 14 calories. However, it is a rich source of fiber and many nutrients. Bottle gourd provides ample amounts of vitamins like vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin A. It contains many of the essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Bottle gourd is also good source of several amino acids like tryptophan, lysine, valine, arginine, etc.
Health benefits of bottle gourd
Bottle gourd is an extremely nutritious vegetable that is easily digestible. Hence it can be included in the diet of people of all ages including infants. More than 90% of this vegetable is made of water and the remaining consists of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This humble vegetable offers numerous health benefits, some of which are listed below:
Bottle gourd for glowing skin
The various vitamins and minerals in bottle gourd help to enhance the complexion of your skin and keep its beautiful and glowing. It is helpful in preventing the secretion of excess oils in your skin, thereby keeping acne and other such skin infections at bay. Since a major part of bottle gourd is made up of water, it helps in hydrating not only your body, but also your skin, keeping it smooth, supple and healthy. A mixture of bottle gourd juice, cucumber juice, chickpea flour and yogurt can be applied on the face to cleanse your skin and nourish it.
Bottle gourd and hair benefits
It is considered that drinking bottle gourd juice early in the morning on a regular basis is beneficial in preventing premature graying of hair and baldness. A common remedy to obtain healthy locks of hair is to apply a hair pack that consists of a mixture of bottle gourd juice, amla (Indian gooseberry) powder and olive oil to each and every strand of your hair. Wash this mixture off after an hour. When done regularly, it is guaranteed to make your hair healthy and shining. Massaging a mixture of bottle gourd juice and amla juice on your scalp is effective in getting rid of dandruff. Premature graying of hair can be prevented by regularly applying a mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil on your hair and washing it off after 2 hours.
Bottle gourd aids digestion
About 92% of bottle gourd is composed of water and it is also a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. This helps in keeping your digestive system active and functioning properly. The fiber binds to digested food and helps in making your bowel movements regular. Drinking bottle gourd juice is an effective remedy for constipation. This vegetable is also beneficial in preventing acidity and flatulence.
Bottle gourd promotes weight loss
Those who wish to go on a weight loss diet should probably consider including bottle gourd in their diet. The high amount of fiber and water together with low amounts of calories and fats makes it an ideal food for losing weight. The fiber helps in satiating your hunger by keeping you feeling fuller for long periods of time. Try drinking a glass of fresh bottle gourd juice in the morning in an empty stomach and you will soon experience positive results in your weight loss goals.
Bottle gourd is beneficial for urinary disorders
Bottle gourd plays an important role in treating urinary disorders. It has a cooling effect on your body and also functions as an effective diuretic, which helps in increasing the frequency of urination and preventing water retention. Bottle gourd, being alkaline in nature helps in relieving the burning sensation while passing urine, which is caused by high acidity of urine. Drinking a mixture of fresh bottle gourd juice and lime juice is considered to be the best remedy for urinary infections.
Bottle gourd helps in cooling the body
Bottle gourd is found to have a cooling effect on your body and hence drinking its juice is ideal for people who work for long hours in the sun. It helps in replenishing the body with the water that is lost through perspiration. Bottle gourd is also helpful in preventing heat strokes. This vegetable can also help in replacing water loss from your body during health problems like diarrhea and cold.
Bottle gourd can provide better sleep
Massaging a mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil on the scalp is a wonderful remedy for insomnia or lack of sleep. Eating this vegetable will also work fine for curing this condition.
Bottle gourd lowers high blood pressure
Bottle gourd is a rich source of potassium that helps in negating the effects of sodium and in maintaining normal blood pressure. Besides, this vegetable has excellent diuretic properties that help in removing excess water and sodium from your body, thereby helping your blood vessels to relax and prevent high blood pressure.
Bottle gourd is beneficial for diabetic patients
Ayurvedic medicine highly recommends including bottle gourd in the diet of people suffering from diabetes. This vegetable is low in calories, and rich in fiber which helps in controlling the blood glucose levels. The glycemic index of bottle gourd is very low, which means that its consumption does not cause the blood glucose to rise to very high levels. Having a glass of fresh bottle gourd juice on an empty stomach in the morning can help in regulating the blood sugar levels the natural way.
Bottle gourd may prevent cardiovascular problems
Bottle gourd exhibits antioxidant properties and hence drinking its juice has been found to have protective effects on your cardiovascular system. Research indicates that this vegetable can lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and prevent blockages in the blood vessels, thus lowering your risks of heart attacks and heart diseases.
Bottle gourd for liver problems
Bottle gourd is often recommended by ayurvedic health practitioners to restore problems associated with the liver. It helps in improving the functioning of the liver and in reducing your risks of developing conditions like jaundice and hepatitis. According to Ayurvedic medicine, drinking the juice of bottle gourd can help in preventing liver inflammation.
Bottle gourd helps in eliminating intestinal worms
The seeds of bottle gourd have been found to possess antihelmintic properties, which helps in getting rid of intestinal worms. The seeds are often boiled and mashed into a paste and fed to children to expel the worms.
Bottle gourd improves bone health
Bottle gourd is an excellent source of bone healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus that promote strong and healthy bones and teeth. By strengthening the bones, these minerals help in preventing conditions like osteoporosis.
Bottle gourd enhances the immune system
The plethora of vitamins and minerals in bottle gourd can help in making your immune system strong and functioning at its optimum best. It is a rich source of vitamin C, which plays a vital role in boosting your immunity and in preventing colds and flu.
Bottle gourd for kidney stones
Bottle gourd has been found to be effective for reducing inflammation of the kidneys and also in breaking down kidney stones. Moreover, the diuretic properties of this vegetable may help in flushing out the toxins and chemicals that can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Precautions while consuming bottle gourd
Although bottle gourd offers immense health benefits because of the presence of high amounts of nutrients, drinking the juice of bitter bottle gourd can sometimes cause serious health risks. According to a report that was published in the “Indian Journal of Gastroenterology” in the year 2011I, this juice is likely to cause problems to the digestive system, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting (including vomiting blood). Another study, published in the 2012 issue of the “Indian Journal of Medical Research” reveals that bitter bottle gourd juice can increase your risks of forming ulcerations in your digestive tract, which can turn fatal. So it is of utmost importance to check the taste of the bottle gourd juice before drinking it to avoid serious health problems.
Bottle gourd is easily available and carries a low price tag. This vegetable may not appeal to the palate of most people because of its bland taste. However, the world has recently started to recognize this wonderful vegetable for its many health benefits.Image Credits: Flickr - Shobha Kamath