Bitter Gourd: Nutrition Value, Health Benefits, Side Effects


Medically reviewed by

Bajaj Finserv Health


9 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Karela juice benefits your skin, hair, liver and overall health
  • Bitter gourd juice is one of the drinks that lower BP and cholesterol
  • Drinking this juice every day is one of the best healthy food habits

With the winter season around the corner, you need to take utmost care of your health. This is the time of the year when you are prone to allergies and infections. Your body needs warmth and strength to combat the chill! There is nothing healthier and more nutritious than vegetables and fruits that can help you deal with all these health ailments. One such vegetable you should include in your diet during the winter season is the bitter gourd. 

While its bitter taste puts many people off, you’ll be amazed to know that bitter gourd benefits your health in many ways [1]. Bitter gourd is a storehouse of essential nutrients like:

  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Beta carotene

The best way to consume this vegetable during winter is in the juice form. You can prepare bitter gourd juice by blending it with black salt, turmeric, ginger and black pepper. To know more about how drinking karela juice benefits your health, read on.

Nutritional Value of Bitter Gourd

100 grams of aw bitter gourd includes nutrition as follows:

  • 16 calories
  • Food fiber: 2.6 grams
  • 3.4 g of carbohydrates, 158 mg of fat
  • Protein: 930 mg
  • Water: 87.4 g

Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd

Bitter Gourd Improves Gut Health

Bitter gourd has been shown to improve intestinal health when consumed regularly. It is used to treat digestive problems such as constipation and stomach pain. It is also good for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) since it kills parasites that enter the digestive tract.

It is also inclusive of antioxidants, which assist in activating digestive enzymes, thereby improving digestion. Doctors prescribe bitter gourd for digestive health because of its inherent laxative properties and high fibre content.

According to a microbiological investigation, bitter gourd affects the organization of the gut microbiota or the collection of bacteria. [1]

Bitter Gourd Increases Immunity

Bitter gourd is high in vitamin C and is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are essential for our bodies because they aid in the proliferation of immune cells and white blood cells (WBCs). It strengthens the body's overall immune system and prevents allergies. Bitter gourd easily meets the daily recommended intake (RDI) of vitamin C, which is 98.5 mg.

Cancer-Preventing Properties of Bitter Melon

Cancer is mostly caused by extremist cells. However, they can also have an impact on how our bodies function. Therefore, keeping your body free of such cells is vital. Our metabolism produces these cells as a by-product. Their number, however, can increase due to smoking, pollution, and stress.

Bitter gourd is high in lycopene, lignans, carotenoids, vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein. It also contains primary antioxidants and minerals. All these things contribute to the battle against cancerous cells. Subsequently, it slows the creation of tumours in the human body.

A study found that bitter gourd possesses anti-carcinogen and anti-tumour capabilities that help prevent prostate, breast, and cervical cancers.[2]

Bitter Melon is good for your eyes

Bitter gourd helps prevent vision disorders such as impaired eyesight and cataracts. Bitter gourd is high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which are beneficial to the eyes. Furthermore, it is an effective treatment for dark circles.

Healthy Eyes from Bitter Melon

One of the most well-known characteristics of bitter melon is its ability to heal wounds. It promotes proliferation, which is important in wound healing. Bitter melon also improves wound oxygenation by increasing capillary circulation. Furthermore, its antioxidant and antibacterial properties allow wounds to constrict and shut. Additionally, it hastens the process of epithelialization, covering the denuded epithelial surface and the injury's tension.

Balances Insulin Levels

Doctors recommend bitter gourd for diabetes patients as it contains properties that function like insulin. The presence of p-insulin in this vegetable helps control diabetes naturally by regulating blood sugar levels [2]. By helping regulate your metabolism, bitter gourd controls sudden spikes too. Being a rich source of fiber and low on glycemic index, this is the best food for diabetes management. No wonder dieticians suggest having a glass of karela juice on an empty stomach every morning!

Additional Read: Green Vegetables for DiabeticsBitter Gourd Benefits

Works as a Liver Cleanser

Bitter gourd is a good detoxifier. It is ideal for your bladder and gut as it helps in cleansing your bowels. If you have had too much alcohol, drinking bitter gourd juice can cure the hangover as it removes alcohol deposits from your body. It contains certain enzymes that also help in preventing problems like liver failure. Since it contains polyphenols, bitter gourd also reduces inflammation in your body.

Improves Iron Levels in Your Blood

Drinking bitter gourd juice also helps in removing impurities from the blood. This way your iron levels increase. As it is an excellent blood purifier, consuming a glass of bitter gourd juice is the best way to boost your health. 

Maintains Blood Pressure

Eating bitter gourd can lower the bad cholesterol in your body. This results in the absence of plaque buildup in arteries, reducing the risk of stroke and heart ailments. Thus doctors call it one of the best drinks for low cholesterol maintenance. Since this vegetable is rich in potassium, it absorbs excess sodium in your body. This way your blood pressure also remains in control. It also prevents stroke as bitter gourd contains folic acid and iron. These two elements help in keeping your heart healthy. To get all these benefits, don’t skip on adding bitter gourd juice in your daily rotation of drinks that lower BP!

Additional Read: Best Drinks to Lower Blood Pressure

Decreases Hair Loss and Improves Your Skin

Not many people are aware that bitter gourd is good for your skin and hair too. It is rich in nutrients like:

  • Zinc
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A

All these add shine and improve the texture of your hair. If you are worried about hair loss or premature greying, all you need to do is apply bitter gourd juice on your scalp. Applying juice can reduce scalp itchiness and dandruff issues too. To stop hair fall, mix this juice with curd and see amazing results. 

The antioxidants present in bitter gourd can reduce your wrinkles and treat acne. It is also effective in protecting your skin against harmful UV rays. Apply it on your skin regularly and increase its glow! 

Helps Manage Weight

This vegetable has few calories, carbs and fat. Being rich in fiber, bitter gourd prevents the growth of adipose cells. These cells are responsible for storing fat in the body. The antioxidants of bitter gourd improve metabolism and detoxify your body, which helps in the reduction of fat [3]. It is considered as a natural remedy for treating obesity. 

Bitter Gourd Uses

Bitter gourd is simple to incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. For example, bitter gourd can easily consume raw as a salad, blended into a pleasant beverage, or made into tea.

Strong Gourd Tea

The bitter gourd may be used in making a nutritious tea at home. You can prepare it on a daily basis because it's not too difficult.

Required Ingredients

  • Bitter gourd slices, either fresh or dried, cut into three to four pieces (bitter gourd leaves can also work)
  • 200 cc of water
  • Honey, agave syrup, or other natural sweeteners (optional)

Preparation Steps

  • Take a tea pan and add some water to it
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium heat
  • Slices of the bitter gourd should be added to the boiling water and stirred well. It allows the nutrients to be totally absorbed by the water
  • After adding honey, turn the burner off and set the mixture aside for a few minutes
  • Use a strainer to filter it
  • Serve warm for good results

Fried bitter gourd stir-fry

The finest and tastiest way to eat bitter gourd is with fries.

Ingredients Required

  • One tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 sliced bitter gourds with seeds removed
  • 3–4 cloves of garlic
  • One finely chopped tomato
  • One small onion, cut coarsely
  • Two Eggs
  • 12 teaspoons of pepper powder
  • Salt as desired

Preparation Steps

  • Heat the heat, put the saucepan there, and add the oil
  • Crush a few garlic cloves and add some finely chopped onion to the pan
  • Stir the ingredients until it has a medium-brown consistency
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan now, and stir well
  • Add the bitter gourd sliced to the pan and keep stirring for two to three minutes
  • Cook the bitter gourd until it becomes transparent
  • Add beaten eggs to the pan
  • Stir consistently until the eggs are done
  • Turn off the burner and sprinkle salt and pepper over the prepared food
  • It can be eaten on its own or with rice or noodles

 Bitter Gourd Nutrition Value

Bitter Gourd Side Effects and Precautions

When it comes to your health, everything in excess is dangerous. The same goes for bitter gourd. It may have certain negative effects and possibly reduce the efficiency of some drugs.

Diarrhoea, vomiting, and other intestinal problems

 Bitter gourds can be harmful due to their high concentration of cucurbitacin, tetracyclic triterpenoids that can induce diarrhoea, vomiting, and other intestinal problems in some people.

Contractions, vaginal bleeding, and miscarriage

According to research, women should avoid eating bitter gourd during the first few months of pregnancy to prevent vaginal bleeding, contractions, and miscarriage. Preterm labour may also be brought on by bitter gourd. Even in pregnant women predisposed to anaemia, bitter gourd seeds can lead to favism. [3]

If used with insulin, blood sugar levels are reduced

Bitter melon serves as natural insulin. So, combining it with insulin can drastically lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, people with diabetes should exercise caution when eating bitter gourd. In the worst situations, this might result in hypoglycaemia coma, a condition in which a person enters a coma due to receiving an extremely high or low dose of insulin. Bitter gourd should also be avoided if you plan to have surgery or have just had surgery since it might cause the body's glucose levels to become unstable.

Liver damage

The key organ in our body that controls homeostasis, or stability, is the liver. When ingested in large numbers, the bitter gourd's component monorcharins can be hazardous to the liver. Bitter gourd excess use for an extended period of time may increase liver enzymes that lead to atherosclerosis, a disease in which the artery wall thickens or hardens. Further complications from atherosclerosis include renal and cardiac problems.


Favism causes the body to break down red blood cells. It may also result in unconsciousness, anaemia, fever, and stomach ache. After consuming bitter gourd seeds, a person with G6PD (a kind of glucose) deficiency may have a favism.

You can also prepare detox water using bitter gourd. All you need to do is add sliced bitter gourd pieces along with lemon slices, fennel seeds and mint leaves in a jar and enjoy the amazing benefits of detox water

There are different ways of including bitter gourd in your daily meals too. While raw bitter gourd juice benefits your health in different ways, you can also make a delicious sabzzi out of it. Sprinkling salt on bitter gourd pieces helps reduce some of its bitterness. Developing such healthy food habits go a long way in protecting you from infections especially during the winters. Take care not to have excess bitter gourd daily as this can affect your health negatively. To find out how much of this vegetable is right for your diet, you can book an appointment with a specialist on Bajaj Finserv Health. Include bitter gourd in your weekly planner and enjoy the winters!

Published on 22 Dec 2021Last updated on 16 Feb 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


Health Videos

Mobile Frame
Download our app

Download the Bajaj Health App

Stay Up-to-date with Health Trends. Read latest blogs on health and wellness. Know More!

Get the link to download the app

Google PlayApp store