Bitter Gourd (Bitter Melon) During Pregnancy - Safe Or Unsafe?

Bitter Melon (Bitter Gourd) During Pregnancy - Health Benefits And Side Effects

Bitter gourd is a green-skinned veggie with white or translucent flesh and is also known as Bitter Melon, Bitter Squash, or Balsam Pear. This veggie gets its name from its taste as bitter taste. Bitter gourd is an excellent source of vital nutrients such as fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamins C, iron, potassium, niacin, and many more. In addition, it has anti-diabetic properties, which makes it a healthy food choice, as we all know that bitter gourd is considered one of the healthiest veggies. But the question here is, Is bitter gourd safe during pregnancy?

Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy

So, if you're expecting and wondering whether bitter gourd is safe to consume during this delicate phase, don't worry you're in the right place. In this article, you'll learn about having bitter gourd during pregnancy. So, read this article to know all the health benefits, risks, and side effects of consuming bitter gourd when pregnant.

Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy

The health benefits of consuming bitter gourd while pregnant are:

1. Loaded with vitamins

Bitter melon is fully loaded with several vitamins, such as B1, B2, and B3. All these vitamins are essential for a pregnant woman and play a vital role in the healthy growth and development of the fetus.

2. Rich in Folate

Bitter Gourds are a great source of folate, which is vital for pregnant women. Folate helps to reduce the risk of developing neural tube defects in babies.

3. Strengthen Immunity

This veggie contains a good amount of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and helps pregnant women fight against various infections and diseases. In addition, bitter gourd's vitamin C content helps strengthen your immunity during pregnancy.

4. Overall Development of the Fetus

Bitter melons are a rich source of several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants essential to maintaining maternal health and for the healthy growth and development of the fetus. This veggie contains several essential nutrients such as niacin, potassium, iron, magnesium, potassium iron, pyridoxine, manganese, riboflavin, calcium, beta carotene, and many more. All these nutrients play a significant role in the overall development of the fetus.

5. Healthy Digestive Tract

Bitter gourd's high fiber content helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, two of the most common complications during pregnancy. In addition, the consumption of this veggie aids in digestion and reduces indigestion issues, promoting a healthy digestive tract while pregnant.

6. Rich in Iron

This veggie contains a large amount of iron, making it a good food choice during pregnancy. Iron is a crucial mineral that is required during pregnancy. Our body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. During your pregnancy, your body supplies blood and oxygen to your baby, so the demand for iron increases to keep up with the increase in blood supply. So, you must take iron supplements and an iron-rich diet during pregnancy.

7. Anti-Diabetic Property

The anti-diabetic properties of bitter gourds help control your blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.

8. Healthy Weight Gain

Bitter gourd is low in calories and high in fiber. The high fiber content of bitter gourd helps you to keep full for a longer time and reduces your food cravings for high-calorie foods or junk foods, which in turn helps you to gain a healthy weight during pregnancy.

9. Healthy Hair And Skin

This veggie is a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin C. These vitamins are well known to reduce aging, fight acne, and skin blemishes, add luster to the hair, and combat hair loss, split ends, and dandruff. So, overall these vitamins help to keep your hair and skin healthy.

10. Good for eyesight

Bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin A, which help to prevent cataract and strengthens vision. That's why the consumption of bitter gourd is good for eye health.

Nutritional Value of Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon

100 g of fresh and raw bitter gourd (bitter melon) consists of the following nutrients:

Nutrient Value of Raw And Fresh Bitter Gourd (Bitter Melon) per 100 g

Principle Nutrient Value
Energy 17 kcal
Carbohydrates 3.70 g
Protein 1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Dietary Fiber 2.80 g
Fat 0.17 g
Vitamin A 471 IU
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.040 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.040 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.400 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 0.212 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 0.043 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folates) 72 µg
Vitamin C 84 mg
Calcium 19 mg
Iron 0.43 mg
Copper 0.034 mg
Magnesium 17 mg
Manganese 0.089 mg
Zinc 0.80 mg
Sodium 5 mg
Potassium 296 mg
Carotene-ß 190 µg
Carotene-α 185 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 170 µg

Risks / Side Effects of eating Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy

Some of the possible side effects caused due to the consumption of bitter gourd during pregnancy include:

1. Toxicity

Bitter gourd contains alkaline components such as quinine, saponin glycosides, and resins. These substances can cause toxicity in the human body, leading to diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, extreme salivation, redness on the face, nausea, and weakness of muscles in expectant mothers.

2. Sensitivity

The seeds and skin of Bitter melon contain a molecule called vicine that can cause sensitivity in some expectant mothers and induce other problems such as heartburn, muscle fatigue, or toxicity.

3. Stomach Issues

Excess eating of bitter gourd can lead to diarrhea, abdominal cramps, gastritis, indigestion, and other stomach-related issues during pregnancy.

4. Favism

Some expectant mothers can experience favism after consuming bitter gourds. This is because bitter gourd contains a molecule called vicine which can destroy red blood cells known as favism, which can lead to anemia.

5. Risks of Miscarriage

According to the International Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews, excess eating of bitter gourd may cause trouble in the uterine system. It can lead to early labor or miscarriage in some worst cases.

However, eating a moderate amount of bitter gourd is considered safe during pregnancy. So don't worry if you're craving bitter gourds; you can talk to your doctor regarding their consumption. 

If your gynecologist gives the go-ahead, enjoy their goodness during your pregnancy. And remember to eat them in limited quantities, as overconsumption of anything harms your health, and the same applies to bitter gourds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is it safe to eat bitter gourd (karela) during pregnancy?

Bitter gourds are a great source of nutrients that are good for the overall health of the expectant mother and her little one. However, there are some controversies due to the risks associated with bitter gourds. The jury is still out on this one, so it's up to you to add them to your diet or avoid them entirely during pregnancy. You can consult your doctor about the consumption of bitter gourds and whether they're safe for you to consume.

2. How much bitter melon can you have during pregnancy?

You can take a cup of bitter gourd once or twice a week but make sure you stay within the quantity. Remember to take bitter gourds in moderate amounts. However, it's better to consult your dietician to know the right amount of bitter melon to consume when pregnant.

3. Is it safe to eat karela (bitter melon) while pregnant?

Karela is a rich source of nutrients such as iron, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and many more. However, there are a few risks also associated with their consumption. So, it depends on whether you include them in your pregnancy diet or avoid them entirely. You can speak to your doctor if you're still unsure about its consumption.

4. Can I have bitter gourd juice during pregnancy?

Bitter Gourd juice is considered suitable for health. However, according to the International Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews, overconsumption of bitter gourd juice can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, induce contractions or even cause bleeding during pregnancy. So, it's best to speak to your doctor about its consumption.

5. Are bitter gourd seeds edible during pregnancy?

The bitter gourd seeds are known to have an antispermatogenic effect, which is why you should consult your doctor before using them. In addition, if you have a G6PD (Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency, it's best to avoid bitter gourd seeds as they contain a chemical known as vicine which can lead to favism in those who have G6PD deficiency. Favism can lead to anemia, headache, stomach pain, fever, and even coma in some.

6. Is it safe to drink bitter gourd juice (bitter melon juice) during pregnancy?

Drinking bitter gourd juice can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, induce contractions or even cause bleeding during pregnancy.

7. Does bitter gourd (bitter melon) cause miscarriage?

Eating bitter gourd occasionally in limited quantities is considered safe. However, according to the International Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews, excess eating of bitter melon may cause trouble in the uterine system. It can lead to early labor or miscarriage in some worst cases.

Bitter melons are a great addition to the diet as they're a good source of numerous nutrients suitable for you and your growing baby during pregnancy. However, pregnancy is a delicate phase where you must be cautious about your diet. If you're craving bitter gourds or going to eat them for the first time during your pregnancy, it's better that you consult your gynecologist about the same.

There are some controversies associated with the consumption of bitter gourds during pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, so it's up to you whether to include bitter melon in your diet. If you're still unsure, it's best to consult your doctor, as your doctor knows what's best for you.

Hope you liked our article on eating bitter gourd during pregnancy. Have a happy and healthy pregnancy. Be safe, and keep smiling.

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Disclaimer: This content is intended for general information only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. The given content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or any diagnosis. Always consult a doctor for more information. Our website doesn't claim responsibility for this information.

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