Is Bitter Gourd Good for Diabetes Patients? Karela for Diabetes

Last updated on October 11th, 2023

In the quest for effective natural remedies to manage diabetes, bitter gourd has emerged as a top vegetable. Its popular names are bitter melon, karela, etc. Scientifically, it is called Momordica Charantia and it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Widely popular for its distinctive taste and numerous health benefits, bitter gourd has garnered considerable attention. This has instigated the curiosity of both medical professionals and individuals grappling with diabetes. But really, is bitter gourd good for diabetes patients?

In this article, we’ll take up this question and provide answers to calm down all your curiosities. In this article, we go into the investigation surrounding bitter gourd benefits for diabetes patients. So let’s explore the active compounds that lend karela its therapeutic ability. We will also examine its effects on blood glucose levels. And weigh the overall considerations of incorporating this natural remedy into a diabetic diet.

What is Bitter Melon Or Guard? 

Bitter gourd goes by popular names like bitter melon and Karela, as we Indians call it. Bitter melon is a unique and intriguing vegetable that may appear to be a little odd initially. It’s a green, oblong-shaped fruit with a bumpy, warty exterior. And its name kind of gives away its defining characteristic – it’s bitter! The origin of bitter gourd can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent, specifically in the tropical regions of South Asia. It is believed to have been first cultivated over 4,000 years ago. From its native roots, it gradually spread to several nations worldwide through trade. 

Historically, bitter gourd has been an integral part of traditional medicine systems. It has been utilised for its medicinal properties in Ayurveda in India and also in traditional Chinese treatment. These ancient medicinal practices recognised the bitter gourd benefits and used it to attend to many illnesses.

Karela Juice and Diabetes

Karela juice for diabetes has been recommended for ages here in India. Along with this, other bitter gourd benefits include treating digestive issues and skin problems. In India, karela is used in curries and stews, while in China and other East Asian countries, it is often stir-fried or used in soups. The bitter gourd benefits further contributed to its popularity and spread.

Nutritional Value of Bitter Melon

Nutritional Value of Bitter Gourd

Bitter Gourd or Karela is loaded with nutrients like fiber, potassium, low calories, etc. Here is the nutritional table: 

Nutrients in 1 cup (per 100g) Amount
Energy 16 cal
Carbohydrates 3.4 g
Protein 930 mg
Sugar 0 g
Fat 158 mg
Fibre 2.6 g
Water 87.4 g
Vitamin A  471 IU
Magnesium 17 mg
Vitamin C 84 mg
Potassium 296 mg
Folate 78 ug

 Read More: 16 Best Fruits Juice For Diabetes.

Bitter Gourd Glycemic Index

Bitter Gourd Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of bitter gourd is just 18 categorising it as a low-GI food. The low bitter gourd glycemic index states that consuming it will not increase sugar levels. The Glycemic load of bitter gourd is also very low. Therefore it is safe to consume for diabetes patients.

The glycemic index(GI) is a scale that categorises foods in the order in which they spike sugar levels in the bloodstream. A low glycemic index value indicates less spike and a gradual increase indicates a higher sugar spike. The glycemic load(GL) is the value of the product of carb quantity in a food, and in a serving you consume divided by 100.

Read More: Best Yoga Asanas For Diabetes To Control At Home Naturally

Bitter Gourd and Diabetes

The answer to ‘Is Bitter Gourd Good for Diabetes Patients?’ is definitely Yes! There are actually some studies that propose bitter gourd to be an ally in your journey of diabetes management. Many researches have examined the effects of bitter gourd or karela on sugar levels. And the findings have been very positive. One of the main reasons bitter gourd is believed to be beneficial for diabetes is its potential to improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is crucial for the body to use insulin effectively, and diabetes patients often struggle with this. 

Studies like the one published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2019 found that bitter gourd or karela extract could enhance insulin sensitivity, which may help in better blood sugar regulation. Moreover, some studies show that bitter gourd also helps in blood sugar stabilisation. A study of 2018 published in the ‘Journal of Medicinal Food’ revealed that bitter gourd or karela intake resulted in a dip in fasting sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.

Another interesting aspect is its impact on haemoglobin A1c levels. Another study of 2018 published in a medical journal indicated consuming bitter melon significantly lessened HbA1c levels in type 2 diabetics. However, it’s essential to remember that while these studies show promising results, bitter melon alone is not a magic bullet for diabetes management. It’s more effective when used as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Before including bitter gourd or karela into the diabetic diet, diabetics should always discuss it with their doctor to ensure no problems occur later on.

Read More: What Are The Problems Caused By High Triglycerides?

Bitter Gourd or Karela Benefits for Diabetes

Bitter Gourd Benefits for Diabetes

Bitter melon, or karela benefits are many for diabetes patients. Let’s know some of the key bitter gourd or karela juice benefits: 

Helps Manage Blood Sugar

One of the most critical bitter gourd benefits for diabetes patients is its potential to help manage sugar levels. Bitter melon or karela comprises compounds that have insulin-like properties, which may assist in lowering elevated blood sugar levels. These compounds may also boost insulin sensitivity. Thus letting the body absorb insulin more promptly. 

Low Carbs and Calories

Bitter gourd glycemic index and calories are very low, which is optimum for diabetics. Its low carbs count, too, makes it a good food to bite onto for individuals wanting to lose some extra kilos. For diabetics, karela being a low-carb diet won’t influence the sugar levels too.

Read More: HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1c) A1c Chart, Test, Levels, & Normal Range

Full of Nutrients

Bitter melon or karela’s bitter taste can be overlooked as it’s a nutrient-dense vegetable. It is loaded with a hefty number of vitamins and minerals. Nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, and magnesium are present in them and can be effective for diabetes management as well.

Antioxidant Properties

Other bitter melon benefits include the presence of antioxidants, which shield the body’s cells from harmful free radicals. These antioxidants promote positive body metabolism and curtail the risk of diabetes-related complications. 

Potential Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation is often linked to diabetes and its complications. Bitter melon has demonstrated anti-inflammatory traits. These traits may help in battling inflammation in the body.

 Read More: Is Ash Gourd Good For Diabetes?

Gut Health

Bitter melon or karela for diabetics is a good source to get dietary fiber. Fibre is very effective for good gut health. Adequate fiber intake can aid digestion, stimulate a feeling of fullness, and also regulate sugar levels.

However, it’s important to note that while bitter gourd benefits for diabetes management are many, it should not take the place of prescribed medications. It is best to be used as a portion of a diabetes-friendly diet and lifestyle.

Ways to Consume Bitter Melon or Karela

Ways to Consume Bitter Melon or Karela

In India, bitter melon or karela is a popular vegetable extensively used in household cooking. While the bitter taste can be challenging for some, there are various delicious ways to prepare recipes for bitter gourd for diabetes patients to make it more palatable for them. Here are some traditional yet tasty methods of consuming bitter melon for diabetes patients: 

Bitter Gourd Curry

One of the most popular ways to cook karela is by making a curry. You can slice the bitter gourd or karela into thin rounds, marinate them with salt for a while to reduce the bitterness, and then sauté them with onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. The combination of spices helps to balance the bitter taste and adds flavour to the dish. 

Bitter Gourd Chips

Bitter gourd or Karela chips are a crispy and tasty snack option. Slice the bitter gourd thinly, toss the slices with some salt, and then deep-fry or air-fry them until they become crisp. This preparation can be an excellent alternative to regular potato chips for diabetes patients. You will get bitter gourd benefits along with cutting in simple carbs which you got eating potato chips.

Read More: Is Jamun Good For Diabetes?

Bitter Gourd Stir-fry

Stir-frying bitter gourd with other vegetables like onions, bell peppers, and green beans can be a great way to add some variety to the dish. The combination of different vegetables can help mellow down the bitterness of the bitter gourd or karela and provide you some good bitter gourd benefits.

Bitter Gourd Juice

Bitter gourd juice or Karela juice for diabetes patients is a popular home remedy in India. To make the bitter gourd juice, remove the seeds and pith from the bitter gourd, blend it with water, and then strain the mixture. You can squeeze a lemon and pour some honey to enhance the taste. Remember, to gain karela juice benefits, consume the juice in moderation. It may have a substantial effect on your blood sugar levels so avoid overconsumption.

Stuffed Bitter Gourd

Another delicious option is to stuff the bitter melon or karela with a spiced mixture of gram flour (besan) or lentils. The stuffed bitter gourd is then cooked until tender in a tomato-based gravy, which helps to balance the bitterness.

Read More: Indian Diet for Diabetes Reversal.

Bitter Gourd Soup

Bitter gourd benefits can be consumed by preparing a flavorful and nutritious karela soup. Boil sliced bitter gourd with other vegetables like carrots, onions, and tomatoes, and then blend everything to make a smooth soup.

Bitter Gourd Pickle

If you enjoy pickles, you can try making bitter gourd or karela pickles. Thinly slice the bitter gourd, marinate it in a mixture of spices and oil, and let it sit for a while before consuming. The pickling process reduces the bitterness and adds tangy flavours.

When cooking bitter gourd or karela for diabetes patients, it’s vital to be mindful of the cooking modes and ingredients used. Avoid excessive use of oil, sugar, or salt, to gain maximum bitter gourd benefits. Also focus on using healthy cooking techniques like sautéing, steaming, or grilling.

Read More: Best Vegetable with Low Glycemic Index for Diabetics.

Bitter Gourd Side Effects

While bitter gourd or karela can be a helpful ally for diabetes patients, it’s crucial to be aware of its potential side effects. So here are some bitter gourd side effects 

Hypoglycemia Risk

Bitter gourd side effects include blood sugar-lowering properties, which can be a good thing. However, if you’re taking medications or insulin to manage your diabetes, combining them with bitter gourd might lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It’s essential to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and work with your doctor to adjust your medications if needed. 

Gastrointestinal Distress

Some diabetes patients may experience gastrointestinal discomfort after eating bitter gourd. The karela’s fiber content can be a little difficult on sensitive stomachs. Thus, bitter melon can lead to issues like bloating, gas, or cramps. If you discover any symptoms like these, consider lowering your karela intake or trying a new cooking method. 

Read More: Top 6 Dry Fruits For Diabetics.

Allergic Reactions

Some diabetics can be allergic to bitter gourd or karela which is one of the bitter gourd side effects. Although rare, if you encounter any symptoms of an allergic response, such as itching, uneasiness, breathing problem, etc, seek immediate medical help.

Interference with Medications

Bitter melon or karela may interact with certain medications, particularly those for diabetes, blood thinners, or antiplatelet drugs. These interactions can affect the abilities of your medications or lead to unwelcome side effects. So always, diabetes patients should have a discussion with their doctor before adding karela to their diet, especially if they’re on any medications.

Pregnancy Concerns

Pregnant women should avoid consuming excessive amounts of bitter gourd or karela, as it may stimulate uterine contractions and lead to complications. 

Read More: Are Sugar-Free Biscuits Safe for Diabetics?

Kidney Stones

Bitter melon includes oxalates, which can promote the development of kidney stones in some individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones or are at risk for developing them, it’s advisable to moderate your bitter gourd intake.

Hemolytic Anemia (G6PD Deficiency)

People with G6PD deficiency, a genetic condition, should be cautious with bitter gourd consumption. The vegetable might trigger a condition called hemolytic anaemia in individuals with this deficiency. 

Now, it’s also important to realise that not every diabetes patient will encounter these karela or bitter gourd juice side effects. Many people consume bitter gourd without any issues and find it beneficial for their diabetes management. The key is to listen to your body, start with small quantities, and observe how it affects you. If you have any concerns or doubts about including bitter gourd in your diet, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can provide personalised advice based on your current health status. A doctor will help you make informed decisions about incorporating bitter gourd into your diabetes management plan.

Read More: Top 10 Homeopathic Medicine For Diabetes.


In conclusion, bitter gourd or karela shows assurance in assisting diabetes patients in managing their condition. All thanks to possible bitter melon benefits on insulin sensitivity and sugar levels management. This answers the big question, Is bitter gourd good for diabetes patients? However, this doesn’t mean it should attempt to replace diabetes medicines and treatment by any chance. Also, keep in mind the side effects of the inclusion of bitter melon in unreasonable amounts in diets. Karela can be used in conjunction with other diabetes management strategies. And before including Karela, individual suitability should be assessed in consultation with your doctor.

What Is The Best Time For Karela?

Karela juice for diabetes patients is advised to be taken empty stomach for gaining maximum karela benefits. Doing this manages your fasting sugar levels and also promotes good gut health.

How Many Bitter Gourd Per Day?

Karela benefits include its ability to regulate sugar levels, but overconsumption can cause more harm than benefit. So safe intake of bitter gourd per day should be around 1-2 bitter melons. Excessive consumption can lead to stomach problems and also extra low sugar levels.

Can Bitter Gourd Reduce Hba1c?

Yes, there are many studies that have shown bitter gourd benefits, including regulating sugar levels and hba1c levels. But this doesn’t mean one can replace diabetes medication with bitter gourd. Karela can be included organically in a diabetes-friendly diet where it can complement the medication.

Is Karela Juice Bad For Kidney?

No, Kerala juice for the kidney isn’t bad at all. Due to its bitter flavour, karela helps in the breakdown of kidney stones, thus, reducing the risk of stone formation. So one can, consuming karela juice for diabetes patients can promote good kidney health.

Who Should Avoid Bitter Gourd?

Patients of glucose 6- phosphate deficiency should avoid bitter melon as intaking it causes amenia. Pregnant and lactating mothers, too, should resist karela intake. Also, diabetics having bitter guard daily should consume it in reasonable amounts to avoid extra low sugar levels.


Can Diabetics Drink Karela Juice Daily?

Yes, diabetes patients can drink karela or bitter gourd juice daily as it is full of vital nutrients. Karela has a good amount of potassium, iron, vitamin C, etc., and also insulin-like abilities. But what’s more important is consuming bitter gourd juice in regulated amounts, and that too only after consulting with your doctor.


Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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