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Food as Medicine: Bitter Melon

Bitter melon is a vegetable used in traditional Asian cuisine. It is easily grown in the Greater DC area. It is an abundant source of vitamin C which is a micronutrient that aids the immune system, bone formation and wound healing. Bitter melon is also high in vitamin A which promotes healthy vision and skin health. Research indicates bitter melon has shown to improve markers of blood sugar control. Several preliminary studies report that bitter melon may have cancer-fighting properties and be effective against breast, lung, colon and nasopharynx cancer cells.


Bitter Melon Stir Fry


  • 1 lb of bitter melons

  • 3 cloves of sliced garlic

  • Cooking oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Optional: 3 eggs, scrambled


  • Wash all produce thoroughly

  • Halve the bitter melon lengthwise and remove seeds along with pith, remove the ends of the bitter melon

  • Slice the bitter melon into 1/2 cm crosswise into half-moon pieces

  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the bitter melon slices. Parboil by letting it cook for 30 seconds. Drain the bitter melon and rinse with cold water before setting aside. This removes quite a bit of the bitterness!

  • Heat oil in a large nonstick pan or wok until hot

  • Add sliced garlic and stir fry

  • Add dry parboiled bitter melon and stir fry for 1 minute

  • Add salt and pepper to taste

  • Optional: add scrambled eggs



Chambial, S., Dwivedi, S., Shukla, K. K., John, P. J., & Sharma, P. (2013). Vitamin C in disease prevention and cure: an overview. Indian journal of clinical biochemistry : IJCB, 28(4), 314–328.

Gilbert C. (2013). What is vitamin A and why do we need it?. Community eye health, 26(84), 65.

Joseph, B., & Jini, D. (2013). Antidiabetic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and its medicinal potency. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease, 3(2), 93–102.

Anjana Fuangchan, Paveena Sonthisombat, Tippawadee Seubnukarn, Rapeepan Chanouan, Pontap Chotchaisuwat, Viruch Sirigulsatien, Kornkanok Ingkaninan, Pinyupa Plianbangchang, Stuart T. Haines, Hypoglycemic effect of bitter melon compared with metformin in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 134, Issue 2,

2011, Pages 422-428.

Sandra D. Habicht, Christine Ludwig, Ray-yu Yang and Michael B. Krawinkel, “Momordica charantia and Type 2 Diabetes: From in vitro to Human Studies”, Current Diabetes Reviews (2014) 10: 48.

Li, C. J., Tsang, S. F., Tsai, C. H., Tsai, H. Y., Chyuan, J. H., & Hsu, H. Y. (2012). Momordica charantia Extract Induces Apoptosis in Human Cancer Cells through Caspase- and Mitochondria-Dependent Pathways. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 261971.

Ratna B. Ray, Amit Raychoudhuri, Robert Steele and Pratibha Nerurkar

Cancer Res March 1 2010 (70) (5) Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) Extract Inhibits Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation by Modulating Cell Cycle Regulatory Genes and Promotes Apoptosis 1925-1931.

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