Ash gourd is a tender vine, which produces large fruit. Famous as a wax gourd, winter melon, white gourd, and Chinese watermelon, the immature ash gourd fruit has thick white flesh and is fuzzy in appearance.
The botanical name of the ash gourd is Benicasa Hispida, with its roots in South and Southeast Asia. Ash gourd fruits are round, waxy, greyish, about 8-12 cm in length and 3-5 kg in weight.
Indian and Chinese cuisines use ash gourds in the preparation of stews, salads, and curries. Ash gourds have a neutral taste like cucumbers and blend easily with Indian flavours.
The humble Ash gourd also has immense medicinal properties that come in handy in treating various diseases and ailments. Low in calorific value, ash gourd prevents converting sugars into fat and is highly useful for diabetic and obese people.
Ash gourd fruits are enormous, and it is impossible to consume them at once. Therefore, processing ash gourd fruits into various commercial products minimise their wastage and prevent post-harvest loss.
Did you know Petha, a popular dessert and a speciality of Agra, is a product of ash gourd? Similarly, Sandga, an Indian heritage product, utilises the pulp of ash gourd in combination with various pulses like Bengal gram, green gram, and black gram. It is a highly nutritious food and has a long shelf life. The immense nutritional and medicinal values of ash gourd necessitate its processing into various value-added products.
Physical Structure of Ash Gourd
It is a creeper plant by nature. The plant’s bright yellow flowers morph into ash gourd. Uniquely shaped leaves of this creeper have an average height of 15cm. The young flesh of this melon has an oval shape and a sweet taste. A matured ash gourd can be as wide as 30cm.
The Indian variety comes with a rough texture and ash-like coating. Southeast Asian gourds grow with a layer of peach fuzz-like hair. When they mature, the formation of wax in place of the hair occurs. This is the genesis of the name wax gourd. The sticky coating helps to protect the gourd from going bad.
Uses of Ash Gourd
The Ayurveda medicinal system believes ash gourds have immense medicinal properties. Many communities use ash gourd as a home remedy for fever, dysentery, and other illnesses. One such example is the Mizo community of North East India. They treat severe dysenteries with ash gourds. Indian spiritual traditions and yoga are also wide users of this vegetable.
Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisines make pork stews with ash gourds. Chinese consume a candied version of this gourd called winter melon candy. Their New Year’s festival is a place to witness these candies. Different states in India use ash gourds in distinct dishes.
The leaves and stems of the plant are consumable as well.
Nutritional Facts of Ash Gourd
The nutritional values per 100g of uncooked ash gourd are:
- Calories: 13 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 4 g
- Protein: 0.3 g
- Ash: 0.3 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Ash gourds are 96% full of water. The remaining 4% constitutes some carbs, proteins, and other nutrients.
- It is a low-calorie vegetable with about 2.9 g of dietary fibre.
- Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are present in low quantities in the milligram range.
- Smaller traces of iron, potassium, and zinc are also part of the nutrient list.
- It contains 13 mg of vitamin C, which makes up a good portion of the daily recommended value.
- Ash gourds have high antioxidant contents. The two important antioxidants found in them are carotenoids and flavonoids. They combat heart diseases and certain types of diabetes.
How Does Ash Gourd Help with Weight Loss?
Ash gourds have a connection in aiding weight loss. Many consume it in its liquid form as a detox juice. Some of the reasons for this are:
- It is a fibre rich vegetable. High fibrous foods tend to slow down the rate of digestion.
- Consuming small portions of it can promote a feeling of fullness for long hours.
- It is very low in calories, which allows for their intake in larger quantities as well. It makes a good option to snack on.
- Only 4 grams of carbohydrates are present for every 100 grams of vegetables. Low-carb diets are also helpful to lose weight.
- It contains a negligible amount of fats, which is an added advantage.
- Vitamin B2 present in it provides increased energy levels for workouts.
- Potassium in ash gourd acts as a diuretic. It helps to avoid water retention and bloating.
- Stress eating is a major cause of weight gain. Ash gourds contain riboflavin, which helps to regulate stress hormones. Riboflavin also manages thyroid levels.
10 Health Benefits of Ash Gourd
1. Ash Gourd aids in better digestion
Since the vegetable is mostly made of water, it gets digested with ease. The high fibre content merely slows down the process. It does not make it harder to digest. Fibrous foods are known to relieve constipation and bloating. The low-calorie contents are simpler to digest.
2. Ash Gourd improves lung health
Ash gourds help with loosening phlegm formation in the lungs and nose. This is due to an expectorant property of the vegetable. It improves breathing and prevents any excess mucus secretion.
3. Ash Gourd increases energy levels
Vitamin B3 present in ash gourds increases energy levels. Those who suffer from anemia and body weakness can consume ash gourds regularly.
4. Ash Gourd treats ulcers naturally
Ash gourds prevent the stomach lining from rupturing. It is believed to cure peptic ulcers. They contain anti-microbial properties. It helps to eliminate harmful germs and bacteria in the stomach and intestine.
5. Ash Gourd contains anti-coagulant properties
This means ash gourd can stop excessive bleeding by thickening the blood. It is useful for those who consume blood thinners. It can also stop internal bleeding quickly. Continuous intake of ash gourd may stop regular nosebleeds.
6. Ash Gourd provides a cooling effect
Similar to cucumbers, ash gourds provide a cooling effect. It makes it ideal for consumption during summers. Cooling of the body is also related to increased sharpness of the mind.
7. Ash Gourd relaxes the body
Ash gourds contain mild sedative properties. It helps the body to relax and unwind. Health issues like anxiety and insomnia get resolved with the continuous use of ash gourds.
8. Ash Gourd regulates excretory system
The fibre content regulates bowel movements. Ash gourd also helps to detoxify kidneys. It promotes regular working of the bladder.
9. Ash Gourd treats dandruff
The cooling property of ash gourds can help to soothe irritated scalp. It eliminates dandruff-causing fungus. You can apply it to the scalp in gel form regularly. It also helps to moisturize dry hair.
10. Ash Gourd contains moisturizing property
The gel version of ash gourds has hydrating and moisturizing properties. Apply it to the skin regularly for best results. It can calm down irritated and sun-burnt skin.
Ways to Consume Ash Gourd
There are multiple ways to consume ash gourds. From elaborate Indian-style curries to a basic juice, its use is versatile. Two simple recipes using ash gourds are given below.
Recipe 1 – Ash gourd raita
Ash Gourd Raita is a healthy and delicious South Indian accompaniment made from ash gourd and yogurt.
- ash gourd grated – 1 cup
- yoghurt whisked – ½ cup
- Salt to taste
- coriander leaves chopped – 1 tbsp
- Coconut oil or ghee – 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
- Urad dal – 1 tsp
- Few curry leaves
- Green chili chopped – 1
- A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- Peel the skin of ash gourd. Remove all seeds from inside and grate it.
- Whisk the yogurt or curd in a mixing bowl. Add grated raw ash gourd and salt. Mix well.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Let them splutter.
- Then add green chilies, curry leaves, asafoetida, and saute for few seconds.
- Pour the tempering over the ash gourd and curd mix.
- Serve with rice or roti.
Recipe 2 – Ash gourd detox drink
This drink is an excellent detoxifier and can be consumed in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Ash gourd cut in cubes – 1/2 cup
- Coriander leaves – a handful
- Ginger – 1-inch piece
- Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
- Cumin Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Black salt – 1/4 tsp optional
- Water – 1 cup
- Blend all the ingredients and serve immediately.
Ash gourds are very low in calories but high in fibre. Traditionally, it finds its usage as a home remedy in many Asian countries. The medicinal values of winter melon have been recognized in Ayurveda. Chinese and Indian cuisines widely use ash gourds for various dishes.
Its nutritional values help to fight constipation, stomach ulcers, and digestion issues. Ash gourds aid in weight loss as well. Its cooling properties relax the body. Hydrated body and internal organs, and that reflect in your skin and hair quality.
Add ash gourds to your recipes for a healthy twist. Its low-calorie and neutral taste are bound to be beneficial. The bottom line is continuous consumption of ash gourds will elevate your health and skin quality.
Ash Gourd – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can you consume ash gourd throughout the year?
A. Yes, ash gourd can be consumed any time of the year.
Yes, ash gourd can be consumed safely at any time of year. It benefits the body by promoting health through its medicinal properties.
Q. How to consume ash gourd juice in the right way?
A. It should be juiced raw and consumed immediately to reap the benefits.
In a blender, combine the diced ash gourd and water and blend until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer and press the pulp with a spoon to extract all of the juice. Then, to taste, add lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Q. Should you start your day with ash gourd juice?
A. Starting the day with a glass of ash gourd juice has many benefits. It helps to kick-start the metabolism as well as detoxification. It also increases energy levels and keeps one alert.
Q. Does ash gourd/winter melon contain seasonal benefits?
A. Since winter melon grows in a warm tropical climate, it is often ideal as a cooling vegetable in the summers. Winter melon application can also soothe irritated skin as well as sunburns in summers.
Q. How many calories are there in ash gourd?
A.100 g of Ash gourd has only 13 calories. So, it can be consumed even if you are trying to lose weight.
Q.Can I drink ash gourd juice everyday?
A. Yes, you can drink Ash Gourd juice every day, preferably first thing in the morning. Thus, This juice can absorb all the toxins, germs and contamination that may have accumulated in one body over the course of a day
Q. Does ash gourd have side effects?
A.It is said that drinking too much ash gourd juice or doing so for an extended period of time can cause phlegm. This is due to its waxy nature, and it can be harmful in general, as well as for people with asthma or bronchitis.
Q. Who should not drink ash gourd juice?
A. The vegetable also contains a lot of minerals. As a result, drinking it for an extended period of time can result in toxic levels of metallic substances accumulating in the body. As a result, It is best to avoid drinking ash gourd juice if you have a high fever or if your body temperature fluctuates frequently. It should also be avoided by people who have asthma or bronchitis.
Q.Can we drink ash gourd in the evening?
A.Yes, the presence of Ash gourd juice’s high vitamin B6 or pyridoxine content is extremely beneficial in monitoring brain functions and allowing nerve impulses to travel freely. As a result, a glass of ash gourd juice can reduce neurotransmitter activity and promote sleep in cases of insomnia or severe sleep deprivation.
Q. Is ash gourd acidic or alkaline?
A.Ash Gourd drink is alkaline due to its coolant property and helps to bring down the excess heat in the gut leading to better metabolism.
Q. Is ash gourd good for uric acid?
A.Yes, the high-fiber foods content in ash gourd are effective natural remedies for lowering uric acid levels in the blood.
Q.Does ash gourd juice reduce BP?
A.Yes, Because of its potassium content, it aids in blood pressure regulation.
Q.How good is ash gourd for health?
A.It provides nutritious carbohydrates, proteins, and fibre. Furthermore, Ash gourd is known to improve one’s health and provide relief from a variety of diseases.
Q.Is ash gourd good for kidney stones?
A.Yes, ash gourd has a high water content and effectively cools the body while balancing the internal tissues of the kidneys by increasing Kidney Functions.
Q. Can we store ash gourd juice in the fridge?
A.No, No, like any other juice, Ash Gourd Juice must be consumed immediately. Another thing to remember when drinking this juice is to take sips rather than gulp it down all at once.
Q.How many days should we drink ash gourd juice for weight loss?
A. Ash gourd juice can be consumed in limited quantities (1 small glass) every day of the week.
Q. Can I drink ash gourd juice after eating?
A. Preferably drink Ash Gourd juice first thing in the morning.
Q. Can diabetic patients eat ash gourd?
A. Ash gourd is frequently used to control blood sugar levels. Because of its low carbohydrate content, its juice is beneficial for people who require low sugar diets.
Q. Can we drink ash gourd in winter?
A. It’s preferable to have Ash Gourd Juice when it’s in season.