by Siriboonya Luakeaw
Momordica Charantia, or also known as bitter melon, is a vine widely grown in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean for its extremely bitter, edible fruit. This fruit is known as Mara (มะระ) in Thai.
Bitter melon is one of two varieties of gourd popular in Thailand, the other being Chinese gourd.
Thai people often cook bitter melon by boiling it to make it into a vegetable dip. However, many people do not like to eat the highly nutritious herb because of its bitter taste.
Although it is extremely bitter and is not exactly the most pleasant thing to eat, bitter melon is extremely healthy.
Active constituents in the bitter melon can act as an insulin which inhibits key carbohydrate hydrolysing enzymes such as a-amylase and a-glucosidase. This can help treat diabetes. In addition, studies show that water extracted from bitter melon is able to inhibit breast cancer cells.
Eating bitter melon leaves in a stir-fry or soup is thought to be helpful in preventing or curbing colds and food allergies. Another bonus is that they provide relief from acid reflux and indigestion. It can also be a natural cure for yeast infections as well.
Furthermore, bitter melon is full of vitamin C, which helps replenish your body and helps reduce acne. It also helps smoothens the skin. It is also thought to help with type II diabetes, kidney stones, low cholesterol, pancreatic cancer, weight loss, carbohydrate digestion and is a good source of vitamin K.
Bitter melons are widely available throughout the whole Kingdom, as well as in teas and juices and in forms of capsules or as dry powder.