Momordica: what it is, useful properties and contraindications
Momordica is presented as an exotic plant, which is a member of the Pumpkin family and has a number of other names. So, it is also called Indian or Chinese cucumber and pomegranate, bitter melon, balsamic pear, karela, etc. All these names refer to a particular genus of crops consisting of more than 20 species of herbs. The plant is an exotic herbaceous crop. The most popular varieties in the farm are the Haran and Cochinchus varieties. This crop was created by nature to benefit the human body.
What is Momordica
Momordica is a plant that forms vines and elongated stems that can be up to two meters tall. The bitter melon is characterized by large, pale green leaves.
The fruits of the Indian cucumber are very beautiful and have a rounded and elongated shape. The surface of the fruit is covered with small growths that look like thorns. The unripe fruit is pale yellow in color and turns bright pink or orange as it ripens. A ripe karela has a deep crimson flesh. It is similar to pomegranate pericarp. The fruits of the yellow cucumber are characterized by many medicinal properties.
This exot grows in the subtropics, in India, Africa and Southeast Asia. The crop has been grown for culinary purposes in these areas since ancient times. However, the product is now also becoming popular in European regions with lovers of unusual dishes. This is due to the unique medicinal qualities of the bitter melon.
The shape of the fruit resembles the familiar cucumber, while some compare it to an oblong-shaped pumpkin. When the balsamic pear begins to ripen, the initial pale yellow coloring changes to a bright orange. In appearance, the skin of the Momordica resembles the surface layer of a chestnut, and there are numerous prickles on it. The ripe fruit splits into small pieces, with the bright red pericarp stripping away. The seeds of such a cucumber are characterized by original Indian motifs. The taste of the karela reminds one of a persimmon and to some extent of a melon.
Composition and calories
Momordica is a tropical crop, which today is cultivated in our regions as well. It is characterized by a number of useful and unique qualities. Balsamic pear contains in its composition the substances necessary for normal functioning of the body. And valuable are not only fruits, but also all other parts of the culture, such as the root, leaves and stems. The healing properties of the plant are due to its rich composition.
- The red peel of the fruit, in which the seeds are concentrated, contains oil enriched with carotene. This substance, after entering the human body, is converted into vitamin A. Everyone knows that it is very useful for vision.
- In addition, the seeds contain a lot of lycopene. It is a substance with powerful antioxidant properties. It is worth noting that this element can enter the human body only with food.
- Scientific studies have shown that the plant contains triterpene saponins, which are concentrated in the maximum quantity in the roots. These substances are necessary for the treatment of rheumatism.
- It should also be noted the presence of phytoncides, which are designed to destroy various kinds of viruses and bacteria.
- In addition, the product contains charantin, which is necessary for normalizing blood glucose levels. From this it follows that momordica is a natural remedy, which is very useful to include in the diet of people suffering from diabetes.
Usually the pulp of the fruit is consumed in food. However, based on the recipes of folk medicine, we can conclude that all parts of the culture are used, including the peel and seeds, and even the burning leaves. They contain a large list of vitamins and minerals, which are very necessary for health. Also in momordica found proteins, fats and carbohydrates, amino acids, alkaloids, vitamins E, C, representatives of the B-group. In addition, there are mineral salts, phenols, oils and resins. Indian cucumber contains such important vitamins as folic and nicotinic acids.
The caloric value of the product is very low. So, in 100 grams of raw material contains about 20 kcal. At the same time there is very little fat, so the plant is perfect for a diet designed to reduce weight.
Therapeutic properties of momordica
Momordica has also been recognized by traditional medicine. That is why it is used in the production of various medicines, which are made using modern technologies. Most often these are preparations related to homeopathic remedies.
- Chinese healers have been using the medicinal properties of karela since ancient times to obtain a medicinal composition with antiseptic and immunomodulatory properties.
- The product is used to treat infectious lesions of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as for the treatment of the upper respiratory tract affected by viral pathogens.
- The plant has long been studied and is confidently included in the list of drugs used to strengthen the immune system.
- Native Americans used the plant to treat measles, scabies and even hepatitis.
- Due to its healing properties, the product is in demand for snake bites and dangerous insects. Also Chinese cucumber is consumed for the purpose of destroying internal parasitic worms, that is, worms.
- Karela fruit is useful for those who suffer from bronchial asthma, arthritis, as well as cancer patients.
- The use of fruits and seeds of the culture allows to reduce the level of "bad" cholesterol in the blood, clean the blood vessels and thus reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Healing properties of Indian pomegranate can improve eyesight, get rid of psoriasis, cure kidney and liver pathologies, and restore potency.
- Pomegranate also has a beneficial effect on the endocrine system. The leaves and fruits of the plant are enriched with a useful and quite rare component - charanthine, which is necessary for the pancreas, which produces insulin. It is for diabetics that the product is of great importance, because it helps to stabilize the blood sugar index.
The use of Indian cucumber
First of all, it is worth noting that the unusual liana is used for decorative purposes. Externally, it is similar to the haulm of a pumpkin, cucumber or grape. That is, the plant easily clings with tendrils to any support and grows rather quickly under the sun. For example, a small arbor culture braids very quickly.
Also Momordica is widely used in folk medicine, in cooking and in the production of cosmetics because of the rich vitamins and minerals composition.
In addition to decoctions and tinctures on an alcohol basis, ointments, infusions and many lotions that are made from momordica are used in the therapy of various diseases. However, it should be noted that the healing qualities of bitter melon can be used for medical purposes only after consultation with a specialist.
As for patients with diabetes, it has already been mentioned above that the product can be consumed with this condition. At present, research is still going on regarding the effect of exot on the patient's condition. As noted, harantine in the composition of such a delicacy provides a decrease in glucose levels in the body, which makes it possible to equate it with drugs belonging to the group of insulin. But at the same time, not all patients in this category noted the sensitivity of their body to the substances included in the composition of preparations based on momordica.
To date, we can firmly assure that medicines made from Chinese pomegranate will definitely benefit the human body, but only as part of complex therapy. In other words, it is possible to achieve a positive result from the consumption of this plant only through a combination of folk remedies from the bitter melon and medicines from official medicine.
- To prepare a healing tincture, you will need the fruit of this culture. It is necessary to separate the peel and pulp of the Chinese cucumber. Dice the inside of the fruit and put it in a large container made of nonmetallic material. The volume of such a container should average 3 liters. Then pour about 0.5 liters of vodka into the container, so that the contents were drowned in the liquid. Cover the mixture with a tight lid and place it in the fridge. In this condition, the solution should insist for 2 weeks. Use the ready remedy half an hour before a meal, 1 tsp. three times a day. Such a composition is taken with colds and infectious diseases in order to strengthen the protective function of the body. Also noted is the beneficial effect of the tincture in rheumatism and other inflammatory processes.
- To make a useful decoction, you will need seeds of momordica. Twenty-five pieces will be enough. The seeds need to be crushed. To do this, you can use a blender or do everything by hand. Next, in a medium-sized saucepan pour 0.3 liters of water and put on the stove. After boiling, add the crushed raw materials and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. After that, cover the mixture and leave it to infuse for an hour. Prepared drink apply 3-4 times a day by 50 ml. The resulting healing potion is useful to use as a diuretic composition. Also the composition is recommended to use in case of high body temperature and the presence of edema.
- The leafy part of the plant is used to obtain tinctures and decoctions, which are used as a cosmetic for the face. They have a rejuvenating, tonic and antiseptic effect. After treatment of the skin with such a composition, they become more elastic, supple and fresh. This kind of products contribute to the narrowing of pores, which gives the face a velvety and rested look.
- Drinks based on Chinese pomegranate are rich in vitamins and mineral compounds. When they are consumed internally, the body is enriched with useful substances. As a result, the condition of curls, nail plates and teeth improves.
- Fruits have insignificant calories, therefore, they can safely be included in dietary meals when you need to lose extra pounds.
- From momordica can be obtained a remedy against the bite of mosquitoes and other insects. Crushed leaves of the plant are used to reduce itching and swelling. In southern countries, this method is even used to treat snake bites. It is worth noting that by mixing a pulp of leaves and honey, you can eliminate gasoline burns.
- Decoction from the fruits and seeds of the plant can be drunk during a flu epidemic. To prepare such a composition, you need to pour a handful of any part of the culture, whether the seeds or the haulm, with a glass of hot water. After that, boil the mixture for a couple of minutes, and then cool it down. Take such a remedy several times during the day, 50 ml.
- If you prepare a decoction from the seeds of the balsamic pear, you will get an effective remedy for hemorrhoids. This product also helps to improve the functioning of the kidneys and urinary tract due to the diuretic effect, which is characteristic of this exotic plant. The recipe for the decoction is described above.
- By chewing a few seeds on an empty stomach for 10 days you can cure diseases of the intestines and stomach.
- Momordica root is useful for bronchitis. The product allows you to alleviate the condition due to expectorant properties. Inhalations using the leaves and shoots of the culture will help to get rid of the symptoms of acute respiratory infections faster.
- Decoction from the leaves is used to eliminate sweating and other skin rashes. To do this, a bandage should be soaked with a squeeze of Momordica and apply to the affected area of the skin, doing the procedure several times a day. In addition, such a decoction will provide accelerated healing of mechanical burns and reduce the risk of a scar.
Momordica is widely used not only in medicine, it is also known that the product is quite popular in the field of cosmetology. All kinds of masks, scrubs and other cosmetics based on this exotic fruit are made, which have a positive effect on the condition of the skin, providing them with youth and elasticity. Indian pomegranate-based rinses strengthen the hair, giving it a healthy shine.
Pomegranate products can be incorporated into face and body lotions and masks, resulting in velvety skin and a significant slowing down of the aging process. There are many recipes with this product. Among the huge list of such recipes, you can surely find something that will suit your particular situation.
In the form of a base for homemade cosmetics you can use dairy products such as sour cream, cream, kefir, etc. Also vegetable oil from olive, sunflower or flax is suitable as the main ingredient. Cosmetic clays are also acceptable to use. Dairy products and oils are suitable for dry and very sensitive skin, and oily types preferably use clay.
Prepared cosmetic compositions are applied to cleansed skin, and after removing them, it is recommended to use a cream with a moisturizing effect.
- For example, you can prepare a mountain ash mask with an infusion of Chinese cucumber. For this you will need 1 tsp. decoction of Momordica, the same amount of red mountain ash, 2 tsp. natural honey, 1 tsp. olive oil and one egg yolk. Combine all the substances in a glass dish, and at the very end add the whipped egg yolk. Mix the mixture thoroughly and apply to the face for 20 minutes. After that, remove the mask with warm water.
- There is also a mushroom mask with the same infusion. In this case, you should prepare 1 tsp. infusion of karela, 2 mushrooms and 1 tbsp. sour cream. First, crush the mushrooms, mix them with the infusion, add sour cream and mix thoroughly. Composition to apply to the skin of the face and decollete area for 20-25 minutes, then rinse lightly with warm water.
- Potato mask with the addition of infusion Momordica is prepared with the following components: 2 tbsp. infusion of exotic fruits and 100 g of potatoes. Potatoes should be peeled, grate on a fine grater, mix with the healing broth. The ready remedy to apply to the skin of the face, then cover with a gauze cloth, pre-moistened in boiled water. Such a composition should act for about 15 minutes. After the specified time, remove the remains of the cosmetic with a damp napkin.
- To prepare a pear cosmetic mask, you need to prepare 2 tbsp. of the infusion itself, 100 g of pears, 70 g of carrots and 1 tsp. of any oil. Peel the pear and carrots, grind them, mix them with the decoction of fruits, add oil and mix well. This mixture is applied to a clean face and neck for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off.
- Apple mask with decoction of momordica: fruit infusion of Chinese pomegranate - 2 tbsp., apple - 70 g, milk - 1 tsp. and one egg yolk. First you need to peel the fruit, crush it, and then mix with all the other ingredients. With the mixture treat a clean face and neck area. The remedy acts for about 15 minutes, after that you need to remove it with a napkin soaked in water, pre-boiled.
- If you mix 1 tbsp. decoction of subtropical fruits, 1 tbsp. grape juice and 2 tbsp. honey component, you get a good remedy. Soak a napkin in the resulting mixture and hold it on your face for 10 minutes. After that, wash your face with cold water.
- You can also combine in a glass dish 1 tbsp. The mixture should be put in a steam bath and heated for 10 minutes. This mass should be put on a steam bath and heated for 10 minutes. The remedy should cool down. Before applying, it is recommended to steam the skin of the face, and then treat it with the resulting composition, using a cotton swab. The mask must be completely absorbed. In conclusion, you can only rinse with cool water. This mask is best done before going to bed. You can also do it in the morning, but you must remember that your makeup can be applied only an hour after the procedure.
- There is also a recipe for a mask consisting of fruit infusion Momordica, honey and cucumber, taken in equal proportions. The honey component is mixed with crushed cucumber, and then add the beneficial decoction. This mass is applied to the face and decollete area for 20-25 minutes, then remove with warm water.
- You can also use a recipe for a mask made of mandarin peel and bitter melon infusion. To get it, you will need 1 tbsp. dried citrus peel, fruit infusion of Indian pomegranate, sour cream and also one egg yolk. Tangerine zest should be crushed, mixed with the yellow part of the egg, vegetable infusion and sour cream. Thoroughly mixed, apply the composition to the skin on the face and neck for 15-20 minutes and then rinse with cool water.
In addition to a large number of recipes for masks, there are recipes for lotions.
The most popular is a remedy consisting of 3 tbsp. decoction of bitter cucumber, 1 tbsp. glycerin, 1 tsp. natural honey, 10 drops of lemon squeeze, 2 tbsp. vodka and a glass of water. Mix all the ingredients in a glass bowl and pour the resulting mixture into a suitable container with a lid. Such a cosmetic can be used to lubricate the skin before going to bed.
It is also recommended to use effective body scrubs.
- To obtain such a remedy you will need 2 tbsp. of Chinese pomegranate juice, 5 tbsp. of kefir, the same amount of sour cream, as well as 2 tbsp. of sea salt and potato starch. All the components should be mixed until a homogeneous consistency. Use the resulting composition to apply to the skin. Acts 6-7 minutes, then you need to remove it with warm water.
- There is another version of making a body scrub. In this case, you will need 2 fruit of Momordica and 2 apples, 5 tablespoons of starch powder and sour cream. Crush the fruit with a blender. You can also grate them on a fine grater. Then add the remaining ingredients. Mix the mixture well and apply it to the body for 5 minutes. After that, it is recommended to rinse the composition with warm water.
Momordica is used to obtain mixtures designed to care for the curls.
- So, for example, you can use the recipe for a hair mask consisting of equal parts of Momordica oil, castor oil and olive oil, as well as shampoo. All ingredients should be mixed. With the resulting mixture, treat the strands along the entire length and the dermis of the scalp. The remedy should work for an hour. After that, rinse the cosmetic composition. Such a procedure is recommended before you wash your head.
- In addition, you can make a useful wrap mask. This mask contains 1 tbsp. of bitter melon oil, 2 tbsp. of shampoo, 1 egg yolk and 20 drops of vitamin A in an oil solution. All ingredients should be mixed, kneaded well and placed in a hot steam bath. In this form the mixture should be kept for 15-20 minutes. The ready mixture should be rubbed into the roots of the hair. After that, it is recommended to cover the head with a plastic bag or a special cap and warm a scarf. After two hours, you can wash your hair in the usual way.
- There is another known recipe, which can be used for wraps. To do this, you need to take 1 tbsp. momordic oil, 4 tbsp. mustard oil and some mint decoction. Warm the oil substances in a water bath, but do not bring them to a boil. After that, using a cotton pad, apply the mixture in a massaging motion to the roots of the strands, wrap your head with a warm towel and hold for half an hour. After that, you can wash off the rest of the mask and use peppermint decoction to rinse your hair. Such a procedure stimulates hair growth.
- It is worth noting that rinses based on momordica are also very useful. So, if you mix 5 tbsp. decoction of Chinese cucumber leaves, 1 tbsp. If you need to use a mixture of mint leaves, chamomile flowers, calendula flowers, hop cones and 400 ml of water, you will get a healing composition, which will strengthen your hair, making it shiny and silky. In this case, first you should mix all the herbs, except for the exotic plant, pour boiling water over them and insist for about 60 minutes. After that, filter the liquid and only after that mix it with the decoction of bitter melon. The resulting rinse can be used after normal shampooing.
Leaves and young shoots of momordica are widely used in the preparation of salads and first courses. Fruits are used when they are a little green before they develop a characteristic bitterness. Seeds are used only when ripe. The seeds of the ripe fruit have a sweetish flavor and can be used as an additional ingredient in various culinary dishes, as well as to serve as an independent snack. The flesh of the Indian pomegranate is used in the process of making vegetable and meat side dishes. It is delicious in stewed form and also if it is boiled. In addition, this part of the plant is pickled and even canned. Interestingly, the fruit can be used to make jam, as well as a number of alcoholic beverages such as wine, liquor or nalewka.
The seeds contain a lot of essential oils. Therefore, they are used as a fragrant spice for the preparation of some dishes, baked goods and confectionery.
Such a product is necessarily a part of the well-known Indian curry spice. From momordica you can prepare very interesting and unusual dishes. If you need to surprise or just to please guests and household members, you can use the original recipes.
For example, you can stuff momordica. To do this, you must first cut the fruit into two parts and remove the pulp. After that, boil some rice and mix it with the minced pork and beef. Here also add your favorite spices. The most popular in this case are thyme, zira and others. Prepared Indian cucumbers can now be stuffed with cooked minced meat and rice. Next, place the fruits in the dish used for stewing. In the same pour a small amount of water or meat broth, salt, season to taste. The stewing should be done for half an hour over low heat. Sour cream or cream of a liquid consistency will do well instead of water.
To marinate momordica, you should first prepare the fruit, namely, to wash and cut into slices. Prepared karela put in a dish made of glass. Also add currant leaves, garlic, dill herbs and black pepper oregano to the momordica. Next, prepare the marinade. To do this, dilute 1 tbsp of sugar and salt in 1 liter of water. Also add 100 ml of natural apple cider vinegar. The resulting marinade pour into an enamel pan and bring to a boil. After that, it can be poured seasoned fruit. The dish can be eaten in two days, using as an appetizer for the festive table.
On a similar principle, you can make preparations of Momordica for the winter, but first you need to sterilize the jars in which to swing the finished product.
In addition, from the Indian pomegranate can get a lot of simple and original dishes. For example, if you add the product to an ordinary egg, you get a quick and healthy breakfast that provides a person with a charge of energy and positive emotions for the day.
Vitaminized side dish
Pretty appetizing and also vitaminizing side dish to a meat or fish dish can be a salad with the use of bitter melon. To prepare it, you need to peel a small-sized fruit from the seeds and cut into slices. Next, peel and cut in half rings an onion. One onion will be enough. Take half a chili pepper and peel it, too, and cut it into rings. Next, in a pan with a little oil fry in order onions, peppers, momordica. Salt the dish and stew over low heat for about 5 minutes.
After that, put washed beet tops or lettuce on a plate and place a tomato cut into rings on top of them. The next layer put the roasted vegetables, which are dressed with the oil left after frying.
The finished salad should be eaten immediately, and it can be used not only as a garnish, but also as a separate dish.
Health Hazards and Contraindications
Although this product has a number of beneficial qualities, it should not be abused, otherwise it can cause harm to the body. If you consume too much momordica, symptoms that are observed in food poisoning can appear. That is, it can manifest as dizziness, nausea and general weakness.
Enriched with vitamins and minerals Indian pomegranate is beneficial not for all categories of people. The product is contraindicated for people with individual intolerance, as well as allergies to momordica. But, in addition, the fruit should be used with caution for women in the position and during breastfeeding. Children under three years of age are absolutely contraindicated product, and as for the older age, you need to be careful and after consuming a small amount be sure to monitor the well-being of the child.
People with gastrointestinal pathologies also need to be careful when consuming exotic fruits.
How to choose and store
If there are unripe fruits on sale, you should not be surprised. After all, it is the unripe fruits of momordica that are used in food. Only in this form is the pulp edible. As they ripen, Chinese cucumbers become more orange and softer, and their taste is bitter. As for the seeds, they taste sweet only when fully ripe. You can even eat them raw, but they will become much softer after cooking.
Momordica should be stored for a few weeks at 11-12 degrees. The humidity should be high and equal to 90 percent.
Harvesting and storage
Apply the useful characteristics of such a plant for medicinal purposes can be used all year round. It is only necessary to make a stock of this healing plant raw material. For harvesting leaves it is recommended to choose the end of spring, when they accumulate the maximum content of useful elements. And for the harvesting of fruits and seeds is better suited summer, when they finally ripen. The roots are best harvested in the fall.
The fruits and the root part of the culture should first be cut into small pieces, and the seeds and leaves should be dried and only after that shredded. Drying should be done in a well-ventilated room, protected from direct sunlight. Ready dried fruits can be stored for three to four years, the roots retain their useful qualities for two to three years. Leaves and inflorescences can be used therapeutically for only a year or two. For storage, you should use a sealed container made of glass, or cloth bags.
What to eat with parsnips
Unfortunately, the fruits of this exotic plant cannot boast a pleasant taste. The fruit tastes rather bitter. For this reason, it is more often used in pharmacology and cosmetology than in the culinary field. Nevertheless, it can be consumed as a food. Often this product can be found in Asian cuisine. How exactly it is consumed depends on which part of the plant is used. The seeds of the culture are sweet, but very tough, so they should be roasted. As a result of such heat treatment, they become softer. In Asian cuisine, this ingredient is included in some salads and vegetable stews.
Momordica leaves can also be used in food, added to vinaigrette. In addition, they can serve as an excellent spice for a diet soup or a tasty borscht. The leaves in this case will enrich the dishes with an incredible complex of vitamins and other useful substances.
Can you eat them raw
You can eat momordica raw. The flesh of the unripe fruit tastes like the familiar cucumber. If there is a mature product, the pulp will be much softer, but then the taste is bitter. To dilute this bitterness a little, it is still recommended to boil it in water with the addition of salt. In this case, the exot can be included in various legume dishes, using it as a seasoning.
- Momordica is particularly appreciated in Japan. This region has the highest life expectancy, even taking into account Japanese measures. Scientists believe that this is due to the use of momordica.
- The very name of the plant, in Latin, means "to bite" because the foliage is just as capable of burning or biting the skin as nettles.
- In the Middle Ages, the fruit of the Chinese pomegranate was present only on the tables of imperial families living in ancient China.
- The substances in the exotic vines provide metabolic acceleration, so it is useful to use them during weight loss.
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