What is ash gourd?
Ash Gourd (Benincasa hispida) is also called wax gourd, winter gourd and ash pumpkin. It is a vine prominently grown for its large round or oblong shaped fruit, which is eaten as either a snack, sweet or used as a cooking ingredient in many recipes.
The fruit has a waxy coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd. This coating helps to give this fruit a long shelf life. It is native to South and Southeast Asia.
It is an amazing fruit sown twice a year, once in February & March and harvested in July-August, then again in September and October and harvested during the winter months. You find it in abundance with all the vegetable vendors, when in season.
Why should you have it?
Ash gourd has many therapeutic properties. Therefore, I consider it as our ‘health guard’. Here, I am listing some of the benefits of the humble ash gourd.
Prevents acidity, ulcers and infections in the stomach
Ash Gourd helps combat the formation of ulcers on the membranes of the stomach and intestine. It also works as an antibacterial agent to kill harmful bacteria in the stomach and intestine keeping the gastrointestinal infections and indigestion at bay. It also prevents acidity due to the consumption of spicy food or fasting.
Helpful for weight management
Ash Gourd is 90 percent water, low in calorie and contains soluble fiber which aids in maintaining weight. It also helps in dealing with anorexia amongst underweight people who are trying to get back to their normal weight by boosting their metabolism.
Works on internal bleeding
Ash Gourd is a natural anticoagulant, which helps to control bleeding. It also works wonders for internal bleeding. Some health conditions like haematuria (blood in urine because of internal bleeding in the kidney), bleeding through ulcers, piles and other such internal bleeds can be stopped by the consumption of ash gourd juice.
Removal of toxins
Ash gourd is good for the liver and helps stimulate the normal elimination of body wastes via the excretory system in the body. It boosts the secretion of fluids within the kidneys, promptly getting rid of accumulated toxins and at the same time, guaranteeing proper hydration of the internal organs in the body. Ash gourd juice also plays a part in facilitating key metabolic functions in the body.
Helps reduce cholesterol
Ash Gourd is high on water and is a rich source of vitamin C. It helps in maintaining a healthy heart and brings down bad cholesterol levels. It also helps boost blood circulation and ensures optimal functioning of cardiac muscles.
Beneficial in type 2 diabetes and heart diseases
Ash Gourd is rich in saponin, which has the power to block fat as well as slow down spikes in sugar level. Moreover, ash gourd is a good source of flavonoids and carotenoids, two antioxidants believed to help protect your body against cell damage and certain conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
According to a 2010 study published in the International Journal of Pharmacology, methanolic extracts of ash gourd seeds showed strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic potential.
Reduces piles, boils and constipation
Consuming Ash Gourd juice helps cool down the entire body system. This is beneficial for people who have excess heat in the body, which can produce problems like boils, piles (haemorrhoids) and constipation.
Promotes healthy skin and hair
Ash Gourd is also beneficial for skin and hair. Regular application of ash gourd juice with lemon or as a face pack is super beneficial for making the skin healthy. It can effectively remove dark spots and patches thus giving the skin a natural glow. It can ward off dandruff from hair too.
How to have it?
Ash gourd is a popular part of Asian cuisine. You can have the fruit cubed or boiled. I suggest that you try eating it on its own or add it to soups and stews.
It can also be baked or simply peeled and added to salads. It is also a popular addition to juices and smoothies and I, myself juice it daily for my family!
Ash gourd (monsoon and winter vegetable) is a perfect replacement for bottle gourd (summer vegetable). I recommend that you have the juice on an empty stomach early in the morning or before breakfast for best results. You can also consume it as a mid-meal to satisfy the hunger pangs.
I am sharing the recipe for Ash Gourd Juice also for the same with you.
Who should have it?
Ash gourd is immensely useful for people with high cholesterol and those fighting gut problems.
I recommend it for weight watchers and for people suffering through inflammations like body aches.