Nutritional qualities and Benefits

Bitter melon is a low calorie, low sodium and very low cholesterol storehouse of nutrition. It is classified as very good source of dietary fiber, antioxidants Vitamins A and C, and minerals such as potassium, foliate, zinc and manganese. In fact it supplies twice the amount of potassium found in bananas. It is also classified as a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, iron and phosphorus.

One cup of raw bitter melon contains a miniscule 15.8 calories, 3.5 grams of carbohydrates and almost no fat. That serving contains 78.1 mg of Vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin. The antioxidant vitamin might not be a magic cure for the common cold but it helps prevent the cold from developing into more serious respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. It helps people whose immune systems have been compromised by stress and protects our heart, vision and skin and premature infants, and keeps our tissue, gums and blood vessels in good shape.

Recent studies on Vitamin C indicate that people with the highest amounts of this antioxidant in their blood are 42 percent less likely to have a stroke. Women in their forties and above were more likely to have more youthful looking skin if they consume generous amounts of food rich in Vitamin C.

The bitter melon's high potassium content contributes to the proper functioning of the heart and digestive system while its dietary fiber helps keep you regular, protects healthy colon cells and inhibits both colon and rectal cancer. A cup of bitter melon has almost the same amount of dietary fiber as a serving of oatmeal or a salad made of cucumber, tomatoes and broccoli.>

Bitter melon itself has been the subject of recent scientific study, its relation to diabetes and breast cancer. Bitter melon has long been used in traditional herbal medicine in connection with diabetes. In 2008 scientists from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica identified four compounds in bitter melon and identified how these compounds help people with Type 2 diabetes to lower their blood sugar. An important advantage is that the use of bitter melon appeared to have no side effects, unlike more conventional drugs. Another study done by scientists of St. Louis University showed that bitter melon extract can bring on the death of human breast cancer cells in vitro or in a glass tube, by preventing them from dividing and growing. However more research have to be undertaken to study the efficacy of bitter melon extracts in vivo or when used by people in clinical trials.