Ampalaya properties are utilized in foreign cuisine and supplemental form. The ampalaya plant (momordica charantia), is a tropical plant found in Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. The historic crop is well known for its medicinal value, used as a treatment for diseases of the skin and body and consumed for general health purposes.
Ampalaya Culinary Value
Ampalaya has a long history in Ayurvedic and traditional Philippine medicine. These ancient systems of medicine have consumed the bitter gourd and other parts of the plant for centuries, attributing its many medicinal benefits to a multitude of healthy properties.
Filipino centenarians enjoyed ampalaya sautéed with egg; the distinct bitter flavor may have taken some getting used to, however. Other Asian cuisines peppered their plates with the plant's fruit, serving up stir-fried dishes, soups and teas with ampalaya as an ingredient. Pakistan cultures offer fried ampalaya and onions, while Indians present ampalaya with an assortment of spices. Ampalaya is still used today in foreign dishes, commonly sold in Asian markets in the United States.
Nutritional Properties of Ampalaya
Ampalaya produces tuberous melon with a bumpy exterior that is similar in appearance to cucumber. This fruit is highly nutritious, containing a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. The leaves and seeds of the plant are also useful for health, as they contain similar nutritional value. Other nutritional elements of ampalaya include:
- Vitamins A, B and C
- Beta Carotene
Ampalaya Properties for Healing
Ampalaya has healing properties, beneficial for the skin and as a whole-body tonic for health. When applied externally, the plant is used to shrink painful hemorrhoids and treat chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. The antimicrobial activity is beneficial for cleaning and healing wounds. The juice derived from the leaves is useful for relieving coughs and fevers as well as expelling parasites and easing diarrhea. Ampalaya is also used in modern medicine to treat diseases like:
Other uses for ampalaya include curing sterility in women and alleviating glaucoma, though the effectiveness of ampalaya for these purposes is unproven.
Ampalaya for Diabetes
Ampalaya is most recognized today for its ability to affect blood sugar levels, making it an exceedingly celebrated supplement among diabetics. The key compound in ampalaya is polypeptide-P, which is proven to have an insulin-like effect, lowering blood sugar levels in the body. When combined with a healthy diet and other medical interventions, ampalaya may be a suitable dietary supplement for those suffering with diabetes.
How to Use Ampalaya
As a supplement, you can find ampalaya in health food stores or online. The capsules, extracts and tablets are marketed as bitter melon. Those who can endure the bitter taste may consume small pieces of the melon. Fresh fruit tinctures in doses of 5 ml are also an option, taken several times daily.
Pregnant or nursing women should not consume bitter melon, due to its abortifacient effects. In addition, it may not be safe for small children and infants because of its hypoglycemic action. Side effects include abdominal pain and diarrhea (with heavy consumption).
For those curious about the flavors and benefits of ampalaya, finding an exotic restaurant and ordering an ampalaya dish may be the answer. Those eager to create their own cuisine can experiment with an array of ampalaya recipes. The ampalaya properties make the plant worth inquiring.