With its light green colour and soft spines, the oval-shaped spine guard might look like it’s ‘bitter’ cousin, but the two are widely different.
Also called spiny gourd, kantola or kakora is a seasonal vegetable commonly available during the monsoon season.
Unlike bitter gourd, spiny gourd does not taste bitter. Scientifically known as Momordica dioica, this monsoon vegetable also has several essential nutrients and hence many health benefits.
Studies show that the vegetable is rich in protein and fibre, and low in calories. It is also a good source of Vitamin C and nutrients like amino acids, flavonoids, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and so on.
Spine gourd is highly valued in Ayurveda and is believed to be effective in balancing the three doshas. It is mostly used to treat urinary disorders, respiratory disorders, and immune dysfunctions related to inflammation and fevers.
Including it in your diet plan can be very beneficial for your overall health. Here’s why:
1. Helps manage diabetes
Spiny gourds have hypoglycemic properties that help regulate pancreatic cells. They also stimulate insulin secretion and reduce insulin sensitivity. This means that if you’re diabetic, the vegetable can help you manage your sugar levels. You can consume this in the form of juice with other veggies or as a stir-fried dish.
2. Boosts immune system
Other than hyperglycemic properties, the vegetable also carries antiallergic, antioxidant, antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. As it is widely available during the monsoons, it helps in keeping several seasonal ailments like cough, cold, allergies etc at bay.
3. Promotes liver health
It is a good source of antioxidants and flavonoids that can keep away free radicals, which can hinder the growth and survival of the body cells. The vegetable also boasts anti-lipid peroxidative properties that help prevent the oxidation of fats, hence preventing conditions like fatty liver.
4. Promotes eye health
Also a rich source of Vitamin A, the spiny gourd helps improve eyesight. Carotenoids like lutein present in the vegetable help prevent various eye diseases.
5. Keeps skin healthy
The vegetable also has several flavonoids like beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that help keep the skin healthy and younger.
6. Promotes good digestion
Spiny gourd is a rich source of soluble fibre which in turn promotes good digestion and holds laxative properties.
What makes the vegetable so lucrative
Realising the high demand owing to its health benefits, several progressive farmers across the country have taken up spiny gourd cultivation. The best thing about the vegetable is that it yields during the monsoon season, thereby helping farmers find markets and profit even during the rains.
Many farmers in Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are now reaping success through spiny gourd cultivation, which gives them an average retail price between Rs 100 and Rs 120 per kilogram.
According to a report by Prabhat Bhaskar, Bihar farmers earn an income of around Rs 2.5 lakh rupees within five months after cultivating kakori on an acre of land.
Edited by Divya Sethu; Photo credits: Shutterstock
The wonderful health edges of Kantola (Spiny gourd), published by ResearchGate in June 2020.
Phytochemical, Phytotherapeutical and Pharmacological Study of Momordica dioica, published by National Centre for Biotechnology Information on 12 August 2014.
Know about the many health benefits of the spiny gourd or kantola, published by Indian Express on 20 September 2019.
Monsoon Diet Tips: Health Benefits Of Spiny Gourd , by Somdatta Saha; published by NDTV Food on 2 August 2022.
Farmers are earning two and a half lakh rupees in just 5 months by cultivating this crop in Bihar, published by Prabhat Khabar on 20 September 2022.
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