What is Karela?
Most English speakers call it “bitter melon”, “bitter gourd”, or “balsam pear”. The scientific community refers to it as Momordica charantia. Karela is its Sanskrit name. As you might have guessed from its shape, it’s a kind of cucumber that grows on a long, tendriled vine. Originating in India, it is now a popular cultivated plant from Okinawa to Brazil.
How does Karela look like?
Karela is a longish, knobby green fruit that looks a little like it’s covered with dried candle wax drippings. Some varieties are pointier or knobbier than others, but they’re always eaten when they’re green. (If left on the vine, they’ll turn yellow and spill open to reveal pulpy, almost decadently red pulp and seeds. It’s quite a sight!) Like its popular cucumber cousins, raw karela’s texture is crunchy and wet, but as far as flavor is concerned, that’s where the family resemblance ends!
How does Karela taste like?
They don’t call it “bitter gourd” for nothing: karela is one of the worst-tasting fruits in the world! People who incorporate it into their cooking often stir-fry it aggressively to curtail its almost overwhelming bitterness. You’d never know it was a superfood if you were to pick it off the vine and take a bite.
Right now, you might be asking yourself why we’d write an article all about karela if it’s so unappealing. True, this fruit makes an unfortunate first impression. But like a prickly friend with a heart of gold, there’s more to karela than meets the eye.
What are the health benefits of Karela?
For generations, Chinese and Indian medical practitioners have known karela’s secret – it’s a medical miracle in a knobby package. The incredible health benefits of karela are backed up by mainstream medical science. Researchers are excited enough about its potential to treat type II diabetes that some doctors recommend taking between 50 and 100 mL of karela juice daily as a natural remedy for diabetes. As if that’s not enough, lab tests suggest that karela may be able to kill pancreatic cancer cells!
Around the globe, people use karela to treat asthma, high blood pressure, stomach problems, and skin infections every day. Karela juice is now available worldwide to anyone who wants to use it.
Is Karela safe for me?
Overall, karela seems to be a fairly safe substance, but it can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea. Certain diabetes medications don’t mix well with karela either, and if you want to try using this fruit to maintain your blood sugar, a long talk with your doctor is in order. Finally, karela can induce miscarriage when it’s taken in large quantities and it might make children ill, so kids and pregnant women should avoid it.
There’s a lot of potential for karela as a major medical food of the future. Research continues to uncover its incredible powers.