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Don’t judge a vegetable by its tastes and cover, judge it based on its health benefits and nutritional contents


Remember a scenario during your childhood where in your mother was trying to convince you to eat bitter gourd because it is good for the health?

But you just can’t because of its bitter taste, right? Unfortunately, you had no choice but to eat it and try to swallow it despite of the strong taste.

Years after that scenario, let’s take a look at how worthy that event was for you. Especially that you did swallow it despite the taste; as if you are swallowing your pride.

Bitter gourd, is it better or it’s just bitter?

The Bitter side

The main reason why this vegetable is bitter is because of the presence of the compound called momordicin.  It is considered the most bitter among all fruits and vegetables. Apparently, all of the parts of this plants tastes bitter, from its vines and leaves to the actual bitter gourd.

Bitter gourd is also known as bitter squash or bitter melon. It is a member of Cucurbitaceae family.  It is also said that bitter gourd contains cucurbitacin, the same compound that makes cucumber bitter.

How to lessen the bitter taste?

Because human taste buds are stronger when they are in a young age, the taste of bitter gourd makes it almost inedible for children. Here are some ways to moderate the make the bitter taste just right on the money.

  • Salting –  Slice the vegetable and put it on a container.  Salt it and left for half an hour. With this method, you will notice a lot of the vegetable juices accumulated on the container. The salt dehydrates the vegetable which will enables you to squeeze the juice out of the vegetable. Rinse it water and it is now ready for cooking.
  • Blanching – Blanching is briefly scalding the vegetables in simmering water for a few minutes to slightly cook them, and then scoop them to an iced water container to shock and stop the cooking process. This method is not really widely used in a typical Filipino kitchen. This can help diminish the bitterness of the bitter gourd.

The Better side

Maybe the popular beliefs are true, the more nutritious a vegetable or fruit is, the more it tastes strong.  And since bitter gourd one of the most bitter among the fruits and vegetables, it is arguably one of the most nutritious and healthy vegetables

Here is the “not so bitter” truth about bitter gourd. Bitter gourd has these following health benefits:

Prevents Diabetes – Bitter gourd contains phytonutrient called polypeptide-P, a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. Also, it composes hypoglycemic agent called Charantin. It increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis inside the cells of the liver, muscle, and fatty (adipose) tissue. Together, these compounds may have been thought to be responsible for blood sugar levels reduction in the treatment of type-2 diabetes.

Helps Fight Cancer – Prevention is better than cure. Cancer is almost incurable if not detected on early stages. Because of the presence of natural compounds and anti-oxidants bitter gourd can help prevent some types of cancer. It can also help trigger leukemic cancer cell.

Contains Antioxidants and  improves the Immune System – Bitter gourd contains excellent natural antioxidant. Antioxidant is essential for removing toxins from the body. At the same time, it helps to rejuvenate the body cells and prevents free radicals.  It also helps boost the immune system.


It cures Asthma – It helps cure chronic cough and breathing problems by removing the sputum that accumulates within the lungs and the respiratory tract.

Helps in Weight loss – Bitter gourd is excellent for weight loss. It can be attributed to its high fibre and low carbohydrates and calories content. It makes an ideal diet for those who are on a weight loss program.

Moisturizes Skin – It is excellent for the skin. It helps to remove the fine lines from the upper surface of the skin and prevent premature ageing. It helps cure and purify blood from within the system.


Bitter gourd can be consumed as our authentic “ampalaya guisado”. Or maybe with the new twists of the current generation, the bitter gourd juice. Regular consumption and insertion of bitter gourd to your diet ensures good health benefits and plenty of nutrients from this vegetable.

Most Filipino vegetables are included in the song “bahay kubo.” One though that is missing from that roster of good and nutritious vegetables is the bitter gourd. But certainly, this vegetable is not something we can just cross out of that list. We might hate it due to its taste, but it is something worth loving when it comes to its health benefits. Just like in the popular “hugot” nowadays, “when you love, you take the pros and the cons”. And with bitter gourd, you will take its taste together with its wonders for a bitter sweet relationship.

It offers a lot of health benefits that everyone fails to realize because of its appearance and taste. Contrary to its taste, these health benefits are the “not so bitter” facts about this vegetable. Now, to answer whether bitter gourd is better or just bitter, this vegetable is just reminding us one of the most used sayings in the world, but somehow a bit rephrased.

“Don’t judge a vegetable by its tastes and cover, judge it based on its health benefits and nutritional contents”

About The Author

Reynald is an Oleia user and content contributor. He is a dreamer by night, a storyteller by day.His stories are told through the click of his camera lens and the strokes of his pen.