Ridge gourd, a popular vegetable in Indian cooking, comes in two variants - Luffa aegyptiaca or Luffa cylindrica (variety with smooth surface) and Luffa acutangula (variety with ridged surface). Locally, it goes by various names like “Turai” in Hindi, “Jhinge” in Bengali, “Beerakaya” in Telugu and “Peerkangaai” in Tamil.
This green fleshy vegetable has an intrinsically bland and insipid taste. Hence, it is commonly used to prepare many customary “desi” dishes such as pakoras, sambhar, dal, chutney and raita, after being adequately seasoned with spices, to enhance its flavour. Despite its neutral and boring palate, it offers innumerable health benefits like promoting weight loss, maintaining eye function and enhancing immunity.
The ridge gourd thrives in tropical and sub-tropical environments, being indigenous to Asian countries like China, India, Nepal, Indonesia and Philippines. The bushy plants grow up to 9m in height, with angled, branching stems and dark green, shiny leaves. The plant bears yellow flowers in summer. Upon developing, the edible ridge gourd fruits (consumed as the vegetable) are long, with an outer green skin and white flesh in the interior and hold black seeds in the center. Ridge gourds are laden with nutrients, like any other vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family, such as the snake gourd.
Also Read: Snake Gourd – Nutrition, Health Benefits, Therapeutic Properties And Side Effects
Ridge gourds are rich in a vast array of essential components like dietary fibers, water content, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6. They are naturally low in calorie content, unhealthy saturated fats and cholesterol. Furthermore, they abound in potent antioxidants and alkaloid compounds, which regulate metabolism and eliminate toxins from the body. Today, ridge gourds have travelled beyond the local kitchens of Asia. They are widely cultivated worldwide, including the warmer parts of North America, Australia and Europe, so people can obtain the marvellous wellness incentives of the lush, juicy vegetable.
Wonderful Health Benefits Of Ridge Gourd:
1. Enhances Vision:
The significant amounts of vitamin A in ridge gourd, in the form of beta carotene, contribute to improving eyesight even at an older age. They also aid in preventing macular degeneration, partial blindness and other eye ailments. Being a valuable antioxidant, beta carotene rids the optic nerves and visual blood vessels of toxins, thereby shielding the eyes from harmful free radicals.
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2. Remedies Anemia:
Having profuse quantities of iron, eating ridge gourd regularly with meals helps to cure anemia, caused due to iron deficiency. Also, ridge gourd is plentiful in vitamin B6, which plays a key role in the proper synthesis of red blood cells in the body along with iron. Thus, it regulates blood flow to all organs in the body, alleviating symptoms of pain and fatigue.
3. Promotes Weight Loss:
Ridge gourd is inherently low in calories and possesses negligible concentrations of saturated fats and cholesterol. This, in turn, helps to digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food promptly upon ingestion and also averts the excess accumulation of fats in body tissues. Moreover, insulin like peptides and alkaloids in ridge gourd help control blood sugar levels, hence maintaining body weight and metabolism in diabetics.
4. Relieves Constipation:
A vegetable of the gourd family, ridge gourd comprises copious volumes of water. In addition, the flesh of ridge gourd is abundant in cellulose, a natural dietary fibre. Therefore, consuming ridge gourd in dals or fries, or simply drinking a glass of ridge gourd juice sweetened with some honey instantly provides relief from constipation, besides restoring normal bowel movement and digestion.
5. Protects Liver Function:
Ridge gourd is bestowed with the ability to purify blood of toxic wastes, alcohol residues and undigested food particles. Hence it plays a crucial part in augmenting liver health and bile function. Bile is a fluid secretion of the liver, which helps break down lipids or fats. It also effectively treats jaundice and other infections arising in the hepatic duct.
6. Manages Diabetes Symptoms:
Ridge gourd is inherently low in calories, sugars, while comprising vast reserves of dietary fibres, which aid in regulating appetite, curbing untimely cravings and controlling weight gain. Moreover, this pulpy green veggie is laden with phytonutrients that possess hypoglycemic traits, thus effectively preventing sudden spikes in blood glucose levels post meals. In this manner, ridge gourd stimulates digestion, metabolism, insulin functions and aids in keeping diabetes in check.
7. Revitalises Skin Texture:
Bestowed with vitamin C and vitamin A which are famed for their antioxidant potential, ridge gourd helps eliminate detrimental free radicals from the system, avert oxidative damage to healthy skin tissues and detoxify and purify the blood. Incorporating ridge gourd as part of the daily diet in small portions in salads, juices, stir-fries, dals or curries works wonders in promoting blood flow to skin cells, remedying infections, acne, dark spots, for soft, clear and radiant skin.
8. Lowers Body Heat:
Ridge gourd is a water vegetable housing ample amounts of liquid content, which confer remarkable cooling effects and reduce excessive body heat. Additionally, this nourishing bounty encompasses a treasure trove of minerals including potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, selenium. These help neutralize surplus acidity in the body, produce a beneficial alkaline environment, besides tackling dehydration, restoring electrolyte balance and replenishing lost fluids, nutrients in the system.
9. Boosts Immunity:
One of the prime causes of eye, liver, stomach, and kidney infections is body’s low immunity and its inability to fight them leading to chronic inflammation. Ridge gourd contains Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, thiamine, and zinc that helps to reduce inflammation in the body thus keeping the immunity levels high.
10. Cures Ulcers:
Ridge gourd helps to manage acidity that can lead to stomach anomalies and ulcers. Owing to its ant-inflammatory effects and being a potential cooling agent, this vegetable helps to soothe peptic ulcers. Besides, it is also well known to alleviate burning sensation in the stomach and during urination.
11. Augments Heart Health:
Potassium and magnesium play an essential role in proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. Ridge gourd is extremely rich source of these minerals and powerful antioxidants which help to maintain a healthy heart by fighting free radicals and protecting the damage of cells.