Kundru, also known as ivy gourd, is full of nutrients, including vitamins A and C, making it beneficial for health. Let us tell you the health benefits of kundru or ivy gourd.

Kundru or ivy gourd is a plant commonly found in India and other parts of Asia. Scientifically known as coccinia grandis, ivy gourd is part of the Cucurbitaceae family. Its leaves are heart-shaped, and bright green in colour. The fruit is oval-shaped, and is about the size of a small cucumber. Ivy gourd, a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber, is known for its potential benefits in managing diabetes, and supporting overall health. No wonder why its fruit and leaves are widely used as a vegetable in many households. We tell you the health benefits of kundru or ivy gourd.

What are the health benefits of ivy gourd?

Kundru or ivy gourd offer many benefits:

1. May help manage blood sugar levels

Ivy Gourd is known for its potential in managing diabetes. It contains compounds that may help regulate blood sugar levels by improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Ivy gourd’s therapeutic potential against diabetes is brought mainly by its antihyperglycemic, and antioxidant properties, according to a research published in the International Journal Of Pharmacognosy in 2017.

Ivy gourd for diabetics
Ivy gourd may help in managing diabetes. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Rich in nutrients

Ivy gourd is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and potassium, says nutritionist Shruti Keluskar. These nutrients are needed by your body for overall health and well-being.

3. May support digestive health

The high fiber content in ivy gourd may aid in digestion by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. It also supports gut health by acting as a prebiotic, which feeds beneficial gut bacteria.

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4. Anti-inflammatory properties

Ivy gourd contains bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects, says the expert. These can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to various chronic diseases, including diabetes.

5. May reduce risk of cancer

Ivy gourd has antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties, according to a research published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine in 2017. Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, are present in ivy gourd. They may help protect the body from oxidative stress and free radical damage, reducing the risk of cancer.

6. Supports weight management

Due to its low-calorie content and high fiber, ivy gourd can be a great addition to a weight management diet. It helps keep you full for a long time, reducing overall calorie intake, says Keluskar.

7. Boosts immunity

The vitamin C in ivy gourd plays a crucial role in boosting the immune system. It helps in the production of white blood cells and enhances the body’s ability to keep infections at bay, says the expert.

How to include ivy gourd in diet?

You can enjoy the health benefits of ivy gourd in through a variety of dishes –

  • Mix ivy gourd with other vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and beans for a colourful and nutritious stir-fry.
  • Ivy gourd is commonly used in Indian curries, so you can cook it with tomatoes, onions, and spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander.
  • Pickle ivy gourd with mustard seeds, fenugreek, chilli powder, and vinegar can be a good accompaniment to meals.
  • Add thinly sliced ivy gourd to salads for a crunchy texture.
  • You can stuff ivy gourd with a mixture of spices, onions, and grated coconut.
Pickles made of ivy gourd
Eat ivy gourd pickles to enjoy its health benefits. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

What are the side effects of ivy gourd?

Here are some possible side effects of eating ivy gourd –

1. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Ivy gourd can lower blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for managing diabetes, but may cause hypoglycemia in people who already have low blood sugar levels or are on blood sugar-lowering medication. They may experience dizziness, confusion, and sweating.

2. Allergic reactions

Although rare, some people may be allergic to ivy gourd, says the expert. If you feel like itching a lot, and notice swelling, and rashes on your body, it is best to stop eating ivy gourd.

3. Digestive issues

Some people may experience digestive discomfort, such as bloating, and diarrhea, especially when consuming ivy gourd for the first time or in excess. To avoid this, start with small amounts and gradually increase to see how your body reacts.

4. Interactions with medications

Ivy gourd can interact with medications, particularly those for diabetes and blood pressure, says the expert. If you are on any medication, especially for blood sugar or blood pressure, consult with your doctor to avoid potential interactions.

5. Impact on kidney health

Ivy gourd is high in potassium, which might be problematic for people with kidney disease or those on a potassium-restricted diet. If you have kidney issues, consult with a doctor before consuming ivy gourd.

Generally, incorporating one to two servings (about 100 to 150 grams) of ivy gourd a few times a week can provide health benefits without causing adverse effects, says Keluskar.

Ivy gourd or kundru is usually consumed as a vegetable in curries, and salads. But begin by incorporating small amounts of ivy gourd into your meals to enjoy its health benefits.

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