Winter melon is a fruit that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. The extract is traditionally used as an antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant treatment, but very few scientific studies to support these claims have been published. A study was recently published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology which investigated whether or not winter melon extract can affect insulin sensitivity.
In this study, researchers from Dong-Eui University in Korea investigated the effects of winter melon extract on insulin sensitivity and other indicators associated with metabolic syndrome. Winter melon is a common fruit eaten throughout East Asia, particularly in Korea. It’s known as “balsam pear” or “kabocha squash” outside of Korea.
In this article, we will discuss winter melon, its health benefits, and some facts you did not know about this healthy fruit.
What is Winter Melon – The Plant of Winter Melon
The plants of wax gourd(winter melon) are typically 3-4 meters tall, with relatively thick stems and large leaves. The flowers are white or yellow, while the fruit ranges in color from green to orange to bright pink. The flesh of winter melon can be eaten as a vegetable and it has a sweet and starchy flavor similar to that of summer squash. Winter melon is sometimes mistakenly called “sugar pumpkin”.
Winter melon belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae, also known as the gourd family. This is a very large family of plants, including cucumbers, summer squash, and pumpkins. There are many parts of the world where different species in the same genus have been found to be used for similar purposes, or contain similar phytochemicals, which has led to some confusion.
The genus Benincasa contains winter melon and the closely related wax gourd (Benincasa hispida). The generic name is derived from the Sanskrit word for this group of plants (वसन्त vasant).
Winter Melon Health Benefits
The high water, low-calorie content of winter melon may assist to enhance your digestion and promote a healthy body weight. For instance, studies demonstrate that low-calorie, water-rich foods like winter melon can aid in weight reduction.
It’s also a decent source of soluble fiber. This kind of fiber causes a gel-like substance in your stomach, which aids in the maintenance and promotion of feelings of fullness.
Winter melon has only 4 grams of carbohydrates per cup, making it ideal for individuals on low-carb diets.
For thousands of years, it has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to cure a variety of health problems.
The laxative, diuretic, and aphrodisiac qualities of this fruit are well-known. It’s also claimed to boost energy levels and enhance intellect while lowering inflammation and disease risk.
However, not all of its supposed advantages are yet backed by science. The ones that have the most scientific evidence behind them include:
- Wax gourd extracts might help prevent stomach ulcers. Animal studies suggest that wax gourd extracts can help prevent stomach ulcers in rats.
- Wax gourd extracts may help to reduce inflammation. Test-tube and animal research suggest that wax gourder. The extract may help to decrease inflammation, which is considered to be the main cause of many chronic illnesses.
- Wax gourd may help prevent type 2 diabetes. According to research conducted on mice, the wax gourd can help reduce blood sugar, triglyceride, and insulin levels. However, human studies have produced conflicting findings.
- Wax gourd extracts have antibacterial effects. Some research claims that wax gourd extracts protect against various bacteria and fungi. However, other studies reveal no protective properties.
All of these studies, however, utilized concentrated extracts from the fruit’s flesh, skin, or vine rather than the fruit itself.
Furthermore, many of these researches are limited or outdated, and the majority have yet to look at these advantages in people. As a result, further study is required before firm conclusions may be drawn.
Winter Melon Taste
The yellowish to green “melon” is extremely mild in flavor, comparable to cucumber. Some would even describe it as tasteless, but this is precisely why it’s such a fantastic foundation for soups because it absorbs the tastes of what it’s cooked in.
Winter melon is similar to cantaloupes and honeydews in that it’s a little sweet when it’s still young and unripe. It is, however, the mature winter melon that is sought after for culinary use. When it’s not cooked, the outer rind is quite hard and difficult to chew through. The best way to enjoy winter melon is to slice it up into wedges or cubes, then cook it in a soup that has plenty of other flavors you can use to mask its powerful aroma.
Winter Melon Soup
This is a dish served in many Cantonese households during the winter months. It is known as luk tong gok (楸糖姜 – bergamot and ginger). Although we think this soup is best made with winter melon, you can make it with other winter squash, such as pumpkin or even a sweet potato.
1 small winter melon 1″-2″ diameter (substitute 2 cups canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree)
50g young ginger root, peeled and sliced thinly 100 ml water to wash ginger root 50 ml all-purpose flour 50 ml water
50g caster sugar (1/4 cup) 1 tbsp honey 5 g dried bergamot (optional)
Method: Cut open the winter melon, discard seeds, and scoop flesh away with a spoon. Using a vegetable peeler, pare off strips of rind from the flesh to use as ‘threads’ in the soup. Chop the flesh of the rind into small cubes and set aside. Place ginger root, 100ml water to wash ginger root, and 50 ml all-purpose flour in a blender and whizz until smooth. In a medium saucepan, bring 400 ml water to boil over high heat then slowly whisk in blended ingredients to make ginger milk. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and bergamot (optional) and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small saucepan, mix caster sugar with 50ml water and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue heating until syrup turns golden brown. Once the sugar syrup is ready, add rind cubes and swirl around until evenly coated with sugar syrup to slightly caramelize the edges. Set aside to cool completely before serving.
There are many ways to enjoy this traditional winter melon dish. If you’re looking for a simple way, try adding some sliced winter melon and ginger root with soy sauce in chicken broth or water along with salt and pepper to taste. You can also use it as a garnish on other dishes like noodles or rice that call for vegetables. Winter melon is important not just because of its flavor but also because of the health benefits it offers! When eaten raw, fresh slices have shown antioxidant properties which help your body fight free radicals; when cooked, they provide relief from symptoms related to colds such as sore throat pain and blocked nasal passages.