Spine gourd is a perennial climbing creeper belonging to Family Cucurbitaceae. The plant is generally found throughout India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and from Himalayas to Ceylon.
Its technical name is Momordica dioica. Spine gourd is commonly known by various names such as Kankad, Kankoda, Kantoli, Kantola, Teasle Gourd, Kakrol, Spine gourd, Ban karola, or small bitter-gourd.
The plant bears fruits during the monsoon and summer seasons. As a food item, spine gourd carries both nutritional and medicinal value, imparting health benefits to multiple body systems and organs.
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Nutritional Content and Active ingredients in Spine Gourd
- Spine gourd contains many active ingredients as lectins, proteins, triterpenes, and vitamins.
- Its fruit contains high amounts of vitamin C, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, and amino acids.
- All parts of the plant, seeds, leaves, fruits, and the roots have high concentrations of bioactive compounds and antioxidants.
- Spine gourd has the highest amount of carotene – Vitamin A in cucurbitaceous vegetables.
- It is a rich source of Minerals like Zinc, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Sodium.
- The gourd is also a good source of Calcium, Magnesium, Chromium, and Iron.
- Spine gourd contains small quantities of essential vitamins like carotene, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, folic acid.
- It is a rich source of fatty acids and contains oleic acid (56.253%), linoleic acid (22.511%), palmitic acid (12.157%), and stearic acid (3.547%).
|Total phenolic compound||3.7 mg/g|
|Phytic acid||2.8 mg/g|
Spine Gourd in Ayurveda
Kakrol has cooling, analgesic, sedative, and diuretic properties. It is tridoshic in nature and balances all the three Doshas. In Ayurveda, kakrol is used as a functional food and medicine for many health disorders.
Some of them are related to urinary disorders, respiratory disorders, and immune dysfunctions related to inflammation and fevers.
Spine gourd is also used against snake bites and a scorpion sting for its anti-venom properties.
It helps to pacify Vata dosha, hence suggested for new mothers to prevent colic and vomiting in babies.
The gourd supports heart health and functioning of vital cleansing organs such as liver, kidneys, and skin.
The juice of kakrol root is a home remedy to cure the inflammation caused by contact with house rodents. Kakrol leaves are mixed with coconut, pepper, and red sandalwood to form an ointment for pain relief.
Health Benefits of Spine gourd
1. Anti allergic properties and Boosts Immune System
Spine gourd possesses anti allergic, antioxidant, antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It supports all functions of the immune system such as scavenging the microbes, memory function of the immune system, and also killer cells.
2. Protects Liver and Supports its functioning
Spine gourd is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids that can scavenge free radicals.
It has anti lipid per oxidative properties, meaning it prevents oxidation of fats. Hence, it prevents Fatty Liver in the first place.
It is highly recommended to those suffering from Fatty Liver or Liver damage.
3. Anti-diabetic effect
Spine gourd has hypoglycemic properties. It also protects and regenerates pancreatic β-cells.
Additionally, it enhances both insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. Thus, regular consumption of the gourd helps to manage Diabetes at all levels. It can be consumed as a stir-fried vegetable or juiced along with other greens.
4. Supports Digestive System
The vegetable is cooling in nature and easy to digest. The pulp and seeds are rich in soluble fibre and carry laxative properties. They support digestive system and prescribed for health disorders such as gastric ulcers, piles, and constipation. Also it is used as a cure to biliousness, excessive production of bile juice.
5. Prevents Hypertension and Supports Heart Health
Fresh fruit juice of spine gourd is prescribed to people with high blood pressure. It supports blood circulation and helps prevent atherosclerosis due to high antioxidant activity.
It has antilipid peroxidative properties, hence protects and heals the artery walls.
6. Cures Eczema and Skin Problems
Juice of the young fruits can be applied on the skin to cure pimples and acne. Roasted seeds of the mature fruits are prescribed for eczema and other skin problems.
7. Prevents and cures Respiratory Disorders
Spine gourd fruit powder or infusion has errhine effect (induces mucus discharge) when introduced in the nostrils. It is used in Ayurveda to cure Asthma, Bronchitis, and to treat blocked sinuses.
8. Supports Brain Function
Kakrol has neuro protective properties. It supports the brain function via the CNS (Central Nervous System). In Ayurveda, it is also used to treat mental disorders.
Spine Gourd – Modes of Consumption
The fruits, young twigs, flowers, and leaves of the kakrol plant are used as vegetable.
Fruits: The fruit of kakrol can be dried and powdered. Also, fresh fruit is juiced, stir-fried, or added to curries and soups.
When choosing fresh fruits in the market, look for light green or dark green colors only. They have a richer nutritional value and better taste. It can be stored in dry and cold conditions in a refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Fruits that are soft and yellowish are not suitable for consumption. This is because mature fruits have seeds that are hard. And the pulp becomes mushy. This makes it difficult to be consumed in meals.
Leaves: The leaves of the plant are usually juiced or extracts are prepared for medicinal use. Similarly, the seeds are roasted, dried, and powdered to be used as food or medicines.
Spine Gourd Recipe
Spine Gourd – Kakrol Stir-fry Recipe
- Heavy Bottom Pan
- 600 g Fresh and young kakrol
- 1½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 Medium Potato Optional
- 1 Small Tomato Optional
- 2 tsp Rock Salt To taste
- 1½ tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1½ tsp Coriander Powder
- 2 tbsp Mustard Oil Pure unrefined oil
- Wash and dry the Kakrol.
- Slightly peel the damaged section. If not, then leave as such.
- Cut in slices horizontally to get 3-4 mm circular discs. Keep aside.
- Peel and cut the potato in half inch cubes.
- Finely chop the onion, tomato, and garlic. Pound or grate the ginger.
- Heat the pan and add oil. Once the oil is slightly hot, add mustard seeds.
- Add onions, ginger, and garlic when the seeds start to splutter.
- Add turmeric, salt, and coriander powder when the onions and garlic have turned golden brown.
- Stir for 1 min and potato cubes. Cook the mix for 5 mins.
- Now add the Kakrol discs and chopped tomato.
- Bring the gas to low/medium and cover.
- Keep stirring in between and let the mix cook for 10-15 mins till the kakrol is soft and crunchy.
- Do not overcook as the vegetable will lose its taste and texture.
- Serve along with rice or bread and enjoy!
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