Karela – A Powerful Anti-Diabetic Food

Karela, also known as Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon, is a common bitter plant used in east Indian cuisine and also east Indian medicine (Ayurveda). It is also a very common home remedy for reducing blood sugar and treating Diabetes.

Karela is closely related to zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber and is loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate and Potassium along with small amounts of zinc and iron. It also contains fiber and is very low in calories. Many people think that Karela is a vegetable but it is actually a fruit.

Recently, Karela has become quite popular among the natural health community for its powerful anti-diabetic properties and can be found on the shelves of most health food stores.

Anti-Diabetic Properties

Traditionally, its been use as a home remedy for patients of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

The anti-diabetic properties of Karela are due to chemical compounds such as Polypeptide-P, Vicine, and Charantin. Each of these phytochemicals have demonstrated potent anti-diabetic properties in various studies. Polypeptide P, for example, is a an insulin-like protein that appears to mimic the activity of human insulin. In experimental research, polypeptide-p was able to reduce blood sugar when administered subcutaneously (see study).

In one clinical trial, the oral administration of 2000mg of Bitter Melon in patients with Type 2 Diabetes resulted in reduced A1C levels and post-prandial blood sugar as well as an increase in insulin secretion (see study).

In another clinical trial, Bitter Melon supplementation resulted in a significant reduction in Fructosamine – another bio-marker used to monitor long-term blood sugar (see study).

Use in Pre-Diabetes

Of course, it is also important to prevent Diabetes and catch the early signs of its development. Karela may be useful in preventing the development of Diabetes when used in patients with Pre-Diabetes by assisting in keeping blood sugar low. For example, in a clinical trial, involving prediabetic patients, supplementation with Karela (Bitter Melon) resulted in a significant reduction in blood sugar (see study).

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by Dr. Nishal R.
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