Goya, also known as Bitter Melon, is a vegetable commonly consumed in tropical countries. With a firm and bumpy outer surface, its flesh tastes like a cross between cucumber and under-ripened melon. While mainly consumed in tropical countries, Goya is a popular vegetable in Japan as well. Goya-Chanpuru, a traditional dish from Okinawa, consists of pork, egg and goya. While this unique vegetable tastes rather bitter at first, once you control this distinct taste, you are sure to become addicted.
While Goya is mainly grown tropical countries, it is a very versatile plant which can grow in North America. With a season spanning July to November, growing this unique vegetable is possible in most climates.
Goya is a nutrient rich food which contains folate, vitamin C and vitamin B. Goya also has an impressive amount of flavonoids, a class of molecules which are very high in anti-oxidant content.
Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 helps to keep your immune system in good working order. It aids in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and amino acids while helping to maintain the health of lymph nodes. Additionally, vitamin B6 helps to regulate blood glucose levels.
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12, or folic acid, helps to preserve neurological function and DNA synthesis. It also plays a key role in the health of red blood cells. The nervous system relies on vitamin B12 for proper function as well.
Vitamin C – Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infections and scavenges harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Vitamin C also helps to prevent respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer. Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure, and therefore lessen the probability of hypertension.
Flavonoids – Flavonoids are a class of antioxidants which help to promote healthy cell growth and reduce inflammation. They are also a powerful class of molecules when it comes to reducing the risk of certain cancers.
Bitter Melon For Diabetes
Bitter Melon has show some promise for helping stabilize and lower blood sugar. Studies have shown that certain compounds in the melon act similarly to insulin. It is not recommended as a replacement for current diabetes medicine but may help. Here are some other foods that help bring your blood sugar down.
Bitter Melon For Cancer
While extracts of the bitter melon were shown to kill leukemia cells in mice, it is still not know if this same effect occurs in humans. At this point there is still a lot of research that needs to be done.
Goya matures in the late summer and early fall. With a season spanning July to November, you can find Goya in most Latin and Caribbean specialty stores in the United States. Additionally, Goya grows more most of the year in tropical countries.
Per ½ Cup (24 grams):
Calories (cKal): 21
Protein (grams): 1.27
Total Fat (grams): .17
Carbohydrates (grams): .79
Fiber (grams): 0
Where To Buy Goya
Since Goya is a common ingredient in Asian cooking, the best place to find it is in an Asian super market such as HMART. Most cities and towns have Asian grocery stores. Just do a quick google search for local Asian market near you.
Powdered Bitter Melon Extract
It is also sold in a powder form to make it easier to take if you’re looking for daily health benefits. If you are interested you can find Himalaya Organic Bitter Melon capsules here.
When buying Goya, make sure the outer surface is bright to dark green and free of blemishes. Store goya in your refrigerator for up to two week is needed.
Best Way to Add to Diet
When preparing Goya, make sure to remove the inner seeds and rind. This will help to reduce the bitterness of the vegetable. From here, slice or dice the Goya into cubes. Sautee the vegetable in your favorite stir fry, or boil Goya in water and add to a salad.