Monday, 25 June 2012

Bitter gourd that is not bitter: Good news for diabetics

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Diabetics, who want to keep their blood glucose
level under check the natural way, can now comfortably drink karela
juice. Vegetable scientists have developed a bitter gourd, which is
not bitter, but highly palatable.

A team of Indian and Taiwanese researchers is now conducting clinical
trial on the efficacy of bitterless bitter gourd in controlling blood
sugar levels. The Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre
(AVRDC), which has successfully removed bitterness from karela, has
tied up with Avinashlingam University for Women, Coimbatore, for the
trials.

The AVRDC has a centre in Hyderabad and it is part of the Project
Bitter gourd, aimed at developing a bitter gourd variety that has the
ideal content of momordicin, a chemical that gives bitterness to this
gourd.

“The clinical trials will help us to identify whether bitter gourd,
which is robbed of its bitterness, will be able to control the blood
sugar in diabetics. We have received samples of the bitterless bitter
gourd powder from AVRDC, Taiwan. Our team will visit Taiwan before we
launch the trials in India,” said Dr S Premakumari, dean,
Avinashlingam University for Women.

Dried powder of nonbitter bitter gourd for preparation of juice has
been developed by researchers Hsin-I  Wang and Sandra Habicht of
AVRDC. This will be used for an intervention trial with diabetic
patients to manage type 2 diabetes, and promote health in developing
countries.

Data collected during the intervention trial will help determine the
anti-hyperglycemic properties of bitter gourd, and will be used to
develop evidence-based dietary strategies for managing the disease.
“The bitter taste of the vegetable powder had to be masked to avoid
bias and guarantee a blind study design. During the trial the powders
will be dissolved in drinking water and consumed by participants, who
will not know
which juice is which,” she said.

The Indian team will also develop bitter gourd recipes and evaluate
them for nutrient retention and anti-diabetic activity.

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