Health benefits of snake gourd vests with its nutritional supply. Adequate fiber makes it good for digestive system, detoxifying body, treat diabetes and remove cholesterol from body. It is good for health of heart and liver. It fights acidity, respiratory problems, worms and even cancer. It offers relief from arthritis, boosts immunity, promotes hair growth and helps promote weight loss.
With its snake like appearance, the snake gourd is a long vegetable that belongs to the cucumber family. Although not very popular around the world, this vegetable is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines. It is native to countries like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and certain parts of Africa and Australia. Raw snake gourd has a slightly bitter taste, which disappears when cooked. The leaves and other parts of the plant are sometimes consumed as vegetable greens and the pulp finds use in many culinary applications. Snake gourd is also known by other names like padwal (Hindi/Marathi), potlakaya (Telegu), Pudalangai (tamil), dhunduli (Assamese), paduvalakaayi (Kannada), padavalanga in Malayalam.and chichinda in India.
Nutritional value of Snake gourd
Snake gourd (Trichosanthes Cucumerina) is packed with a variety of nutrients that offer a myriad of health benefits to human beings. It contains significant amounts of protein, carbohydrate and soluble fiber. Vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin can be obtained by consuming this vegetable. Snake gourd also contains high levels of minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, phosphorus and iodine.
Snake gourd health benefits
Snake gourd has been found to have several medicinal properties and is used in the Ayurvedic medicine system for the treatment of various diseases. It offers many health advantages, some of which are outlined below:
Snake gourd is good for the digestive system
Snake gourd is a mild laxative and hence it is helpful in easing bowel problems. It is rich in water content and fiber, which adds bulk to the stool, promotes regularity and eliminates bowel disorders such as constipation, flatulence and bloating. Fiber also helps in optimizing the absorption of nutrients by your body. Juice made from fresh leaves of snake gourd is used as laxative and treating constipation.
Snake gourd helps in reducing fever
Snake gourd plays an important role in curing fever. A decoction of the vegetable or its leaves is often recommended to treat bilious fever. The effects are more pronounced when the decoction is taken along with honey and chiretta, a medicinal herb.
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Snake gourd detoxifies the body
Snake gourd is a natural diuretic, which increases the frequency of urination. This helps in eliminating toxins and harmful substances from the body. It also dehydrates the body and increases the production of bodily fluids, which helps in the proper functioning of the kidneys and bladder. Snake gourd also contains ample amount of fibers which helps in excretion of toxins from the body. 1-2 tsp of snake gourd juice in the morning is good detoxifying home cure.
Snake gourd boosts your immune health
Studies reveal that snake gourd has the ability to strengthen the immune system. Not only does this vegetable possess antibiotic properties, it also has high levels of vitamin C and carotene, all of which work together to improve your overall health and protect your body against diseases. According to research, snake gourd is effective against many pathogens including S aureus, S paratyphi, P vulgaris etc.
Snake gourd as a remedy for respiratory problems
Snake gourd has expectorant properties, which helps in loosening mucous and phlegm in the respiratory tracts and sinuses. This prevents the blockage of respiratory tracts and offers relief from stuffed nose and breathing difficulties.
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Snake gourd good diabetic food
Snake gourd, being a highly nutritious and low calorie vegetable is an ideal food for people with diabetes. It is considered beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, especially those suffering from type-2 diabetes, as it not only helps in reducing weight but also provides adequate nourishment to the patients. Snake gourd helps in lowering blood sugar levels by increasing insulin efficiency. Some Chinese medicines have been using extract of roots in anti-diabetic medicines.
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Snake gourd and heart health
Snake gourd is considered to be one of the best remedies for heart problems. The extract obtained from this vegetable is beneficial for disorders like palpitation and stress on the heart. It also helps in improving blood circulation and in ensuring normal functioning of the heart. Snake gourd helps in lowering high blood pressure as it contains potassium that acts as a vasodilator. Fiber rich snake gourd is good in reducing cholesterol level in body.
Snake gourd improves health of the hair
Snake gourd is rich in vitamins and minerals that provide special benefits for the hair. It has been found to stimulate the growth of new hair and prevent hair loss. Hence it is particularly useful for people suffering from alopecia. Another benefit of snake gourd is that it is effective in getting rid of dandruff. Just massage the juice of this vegetable onto your scalp. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then wash it off. Repeat this procedure once a week to get soft, shiny and dandruff-free hair.
Snake gourd is effective against liver disorders
Studies reveal that snake gourd has hepato-protective effects. It is a wonderful remedy for treating liver disorders like jaundice and hepatitis. A decoction prepared from snake gourd leaves and coriander seeds, when taken two times a day helps in reducing the levels of bilirubin in the blood and considered home remedy for jaundice.
Snake gourd for acidity
Snake gourd reduces the production of excess acids and hence is a good remedy for conditions such as peptic ulcer, gastritis, duodenal ulcer etc. It is found to help in relieving the symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux and burning sensation. Snake gourd salad reduces incidence of Gastro esophageal reflex disorder.
[Read more about home remedies of GERD]
Snake gourd against cancer
The active compounds found in snake gourd are effective in inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells and in preventing various types of cancers such as colon and prostrate cancers.
Snake gourd can prevent worm infestations
Snake gourd is found to have anthelmintic property, which helps in destroying and eliminating parasitic worms from the human intestines.
Snake gourd provides relief from arthritis
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of snake gourd makes it very effective in providing relief from the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Snake gourd provides cooling effect
Snake gourd is rich in water content and hence offers a cooling effect to the body during hot summer days. The cooling and healing properties of snake gourd can be used to cure sunburns.
Snake gourd promotes weight loss
Since snake gourd is low in calories, fat-free and high in fiber content, it is a perfect addition to a weight loss diet. The fiber promotes the feeling of fullness, which prevents you from overeating and eating snacks frequently.
Snake gourd for skin
Paste made from seeds of snake gourd is applied topically for treating wounds. Snake gourd belongs to the family of cucumber which are good moisturizer for skin. They offer cooling effect to body and like cucumber can be used for cooling eyes. Just like cucumber, the pulp of this vegetable can be used to improve skin complexion. It is also effective in reducing puffiness of eyes and lowers swelling around them. Placing snake gourd slices on eyes can also eliminate dark circles. It is effective in tightening of skin and remove wrinkles.
[Read more about: Benefits of cucumber for skin]
Culinary uses of Snake gourd
Parwal is cooked like vegetables along with spices and coconut in India. It tastes great with rice and lentils. Padwl is consumed when young and tender. Washed and peeled vegetable is cooked in curries, or shallow fried with spices or tossed in salad or chutney. Often snake gourd is pickled. Nithu shares excellent recipe of snake gourd chutney along with peanuts and coconut, popularly known as Pudalangai Thuvaiyal. Sharmilee gives step by step recipe for making Snake gourd curry – Pudalangai Kootu. If you want your kid to eat this food, why not try snake gourd fritters or pakoda along with ketchup or chutney. Find snake gourd pakoda recipe here. Shobha offers this not so common Konkani recipe of Snakegourd Seed Pancake or Poddale Biye Sannapolo here.
As a vegetable with medicinal properties, the uses and benefits of snake gourd are plenty. The nutritional wealth, therapeutic effects and health benefits offered by this vegetable makes it an important dietary ingredient in many cuisines around the world.