Bitter gourd or karela is not relished by everyone. But the fact that it comes packed with umpteen benefits cannot be ignored.

Elaborating on the many such health benefits of this vegetable, Ruchika Jain, chief dietician at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said, “Karela, although bitter in taste, is a wonderful food. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also packed with fibre, vitamin A, and helps in reducing weight. This is why it has been used for medicinal purposes in India and many other countries.”

Though it is usually consumed in the cooked form, fresh karela juice is equally nutritious, said Dr Rachna Agarwal, a nutritionist, who also listed some benefits.

Rich in vitamin C: Karela juice provides an ample amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant, that plays a role in promoting immunity, brain health, and tissue healing.

Regulates sugar levels: It has components that can help lower glucose in the body.” It has good hypoglycemic properties that help in controlling blood sugar levels,” said Jain.

Rich in vitamin A and fibre: Being a rich source of fiber and low in calories, experts said that it also aids weight loss. “It keeps us full for a longer period of time and, hence, keeps unwanted hunger at bay. Being rich in vitamin A makes it great for the eyes, and skin health. It also helps to reduce toxins from the blood, reduce cholesterol, and is great for gut health,” Dr Agarwal said.

Purifies blood: “As per Ayurveda, fresh karela juice apart from detoxifying the liver can even prevent pancreatic cancer. It is also a boon for diabetics,” Dr Agarwal also added.

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What is the right time to consume karela juice?

“It should ideally be had before meals. The best time, however, is once a day on an empty stomach before breakfast,” suggested Jain, advising one to not consume more than 30ml as “over consumption can upset one’s stomach”

Agreed Dr Agarwal and added, “Churn one karela per person in little water and then strain the juice. If the seeds are very hard, discard them. The medium or small variety of karela is the desi variety and better on nutrients and taste.”

But Jain was quick to add that pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mothers should avoid the juice. “Diabetic patients should be careful while consuming the juice along with their medications as it has hypoglycemic properties, which can drastically reduce their sugar levels.”

How to make it tasty?

Karela juice can combined with jaggery to neutralise the bitter taste. “One can also mix it with apple juice and lemon juice,” suggested Jain.

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