What Is Bitter Gourd?


The bitter gourd or momordica charantia is a vegetable that is popular in Asian and Indian cooking. The bitter gourd is known by a number of names including the balsam pear, bitter melon and foo qua.


  • The bitter gourd is a member of the squash family and has a close resemblance to a cucumber with a bumpy skin over a ridged body.

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Bitter gourds contain an array of vitimins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, along with iron, calcium, copper, phosphorous and potassium.


  • The bitter gourd is a yellow-green color when young and not yet ripe. The vegetable turns a bright green before becoming a yellow-orange color. Young bitter gourds are best for cooking when they are bright green.

Flesh and Seeds

  • Beneath the skin of the bitter gourd the flesh is white and contains small fibrous seeds. Before cooking, the seeds of the bitter gourd are discarded and the flesh is usually boiled before being added to a sauce.

Health Benefits

  • Eastern medicine has used the bitter gourd for many centuries, claiming its medicinal benefits include stimulating the liver, helping digestion problems, and purifying the blood.

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