Nutrients Found In Ampalaya

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Containing only 21 calories for an entire fruit, ampalaya is a nutrient-dense food that has significant nutritional value at a low-caloric cost. Ampalaya is a Filipino word for Momordica charantia, known also as bitter melon. It is a popular food in parts of South America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Ampalaya

The word "ampalaya" refers to the entire plant Momordica charantia and its fruit. Related to the squash family, the green, warty ampalaya fruit is cooked as a vegetable. It has a strong bitter flavor and often is served stuffed or with rich sauces. Ampalaya also is reputed to have medicinal value. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, it might lower blood glucose levels in people with or without diabetes. Consult a qualified health care professional before using ampalaya for therapeutic purposes.

Vitamin C

One ampalaya fruit contains 174 percent of the average daily requirement for vitamin C. Vitamin C has multiple functions in the body. It is a key factor in the synthesis of the protein known as collagen, a major component of the connective tissue, and also is a powerful antioxidant. Like other antioxidants, it helps safeguard the body's cells from damage from the dangerous free radicals believed to play a role in chronic disease. Other rich food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries and sweet red peppers.

Folate

An ampalaya fruit contains 22 percent of the average daily requirement for folate. Folate can help prevent spina bifida and anencephaly, also known as neural tube defects, or birth defects that impact the spine and the brain. Folate, called folic acid in its synthetic form, has been added to bread flour and many other grain products in the United States since 1998. The mandatory fortification of these grain products was responsible for a 25 percent to 50 percent drop in the number of babies born with neural tube defects in the United States. Folate also might be protective against strokes, breast cancer and colon cancer, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Fiber

Fourteen percent of the average daily value for dietary fiber is present in one ampalaya fruit. Fiber is a kind of indigestible carbohydrate that is present to some degree in all plants. Dietary fiber contributes to gastrointestinal health and the utilization of the nutrients in your food. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, fiber also might protect against heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis and some cancers. When upping the amount of fiber in your diet, make sure to drink plenty of fluids for maximum benefit.

Other Nutrients

Bitter melon also is a good source of carbohydrates, used for quick energy; vitamin A, critical to good vision; and the minerals iron, phosphorus and potassium. Like other vegetables, it is also free of cholesterol and fats.

References

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