Ampalaya or Bitter Gourd is an annual vine that produces a lumpy fruit that is used as a vegetable. They come in white and red but the green variety is by far the most popular and common. Ampalaya is a very polarizing vegetable because of it’s strong bitter taste. While there are ways to cook it that reduce the biting, astringent bitterness of the fruit, it is undeniably it’s signature flavor. Some people relish the taste, saying it is the reason they eat it. Others tolerate it if cooked in a way that covers it up, while some avoid the vegetable completely because of it. Despite (or because of) this, it is widely recognized as a nutritious vegetable, with health benefits advocated by parents and grand parents everywhere. Let us take a look at what makes Ampalaya so nutritious.
Effects On Immunity
Ampalaya has a good amount of B Vitamins, especially Folates. It also has a lot of Vitamin A, which is reponsible for our respiratory health and regeneration of our mucosal surfaces. What really jumps off the chart is the Vitamin C content.
Ampalaya has a whopping 84mg of the nutrient per 100g. This is 140% of the recommended daily intake, although studies are showing that our body is able to utilize up to 5000mg daily. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that we need to intake everyday. It is used to produce collagen, the protein that makes up our body. It also acts as an antioxidant, and is one of the first to be utilized when available, freeing up more system-specific antioxidants like Glutathione to work on our respiratory system. The high levels of this multi-faceted nutrient is perhaps what has given Ampalaya it’s reputation as very healthy vegetable.
It also provides nearly as much Potassium as a Banana, with just as little Sodium.
COVID Resistance: B Vitamins provide support to your adaptive immunity, meaning that you will be protected from all variants of COVID. (Your immune system has likely already contracted the virus) Vitamin C is essential for adaptive immunity which will protect you from variants of the virus. Recent research has shown that Antioxidants are key in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation which lead to progression to severe COVID symptoms.
Amapalaya is an easily cultivated vegetable and can be grown out of pots. All it needs is a trellis to climb about 4 feet high. We have a native variety of Ampalaya that produces tiny yellow to red fruits about 2 inches in length, that grows wild. This variety is said to be even more nutritious than the commercially grown varieties. If you want to eat Ampalaya but cannot abide the biterness, soak it in salt water for a few minutes and squeeze it out before cooking. This also helps to remove chemical residues if the produces is not organic. I am not sure what this does to the nutrient content however.
Ampalaya is hardy and vigorous enough that it can be grown easily in an organic system. Many vegetable farmers do spray and fertilize their Amaplaya, perhaps due to bad habits and practices that have reduced their soil fertility and ability to deal with challenges. Residues on conventional produce actually counteract many of the benefits that you get from your diet.
Most organic foods contain up to 60% more antioxidants making them valuable for your immunity.