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The goodness of gourds – why lauki and other gourds are great for your diet


karela by miwok flickrBitter gourd aids in stabilising blood sugar levels. Photograph by Miwok/Flickr

Nobody liked these uber healthy gourds in various shapes and sizes – the light green bottle gourd, the spiny ridge gourd and the gnarled bitter gourd – until green juices came long. But these gourds have been cooked in Indian kitchens long before the health juice fad and for good reason. Gourds are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fibre that help stabilise the body’s metabolism and fight infections.  They are also all low in calories and help control cholesterol levels in the blood. Here are some of the benefits of various gourds

Bitter gourd is an excellent antioxidant and helps repair damaged cells

It also helps strengthen the respiratory system, preventing ailments such as asthma and other respiratory infections.
Bitter gourd also helps regulate the blood sugar levels and thereby preventing the onset of diabetes


The bottle gourd or lauki is high in dietary fibre and helps aid digestion.
It also aids weight loss and is favoured by nutritionists. Steamed dumplings (muthia) made of lauki and even halwa, a popular Indian dessert are much preferred options for those following a low calorie diet.
Lauki also functions as an excellent diuretic and helps control urinary tract infections and reduces inflammations.

Traditional Bengali cooking features the ridge gourd as a prominent ingredient in stir fried dishes. The gourd is known to have blood purifying properties besides being good for the eyesight since it contains high levels of beta-carotene.

Ridge gourd is also beneficial to boost the immune system.

Since the vegetable is alkaline in nature, it helps reduce acidity and alleviate conditions such as ulcers in the digestive system.

The tender snake gourd is popular in South India and has been highly recommended for those prone to heart disease as it improves blood circulation levels.

Snake gourd is also known to treat hair and scalp related disorders such as dandruff.