Snake Gourd is an annual climbing plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is commonly known as Viper Gourd, Snake tomato, Long tomato, Chichinda, Chinese Cucumber, Padwal, pudalangai, pathola, and padavalanga. Its scientific name is Trichosanthes Cucumerina.
The fruit of the plant is light green to dark in colour when young. It turns yellow and then red at maturity. The seeds harden and the flesh becomes fiburous as the fruits mature. Trichosanthes Cucumerina is grown and cultivated in India, South East Asia, Australia, West Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Consumption Tips – How to eat Snake Gourd?
All parts of the Snake Gourd plant such as seeds, leaves, flowers, and fruits are used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. It is a low calorie food and is packed with several vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre, and antioxidants.
Snake Gourd fruit is commonly consumed as a vegetable. It is a popular summer squash that can be added to soups, stews, and curries. It can also be pickled, fried, turned into a chutney, or simply stir-fried. The pulp of the vegetable turns red as it ripens. It can be used as a substitute to a tomato, hence its name long tomato.
Active Ingredients and Nutrition
- Snake Gourd plant is rich in antioxidants as triterpenes and free fatty acids.
- It contains Cucurbitacins B and E, β-sitosterol, and low amount of oxalate, phytates, and tannins. The total phenolics and flavonoids contents are 46.8% and 78.0% respectively.
- It is a rich source of dietary fiber, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Potassium. The fruit contains significant amounts of antioxidants Vitamins as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.
Nutritional Content Variation in Leaves, Flowers, Seeds, and Fruits
Leaves of Trichosanthes Cucumerina are the richest source of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds as phenolics and flavonoids among the rest of the parts.
Trichosanthes Cucumerina seed is a good source of edible oil. This seed oil is a rich source of antioxidants such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolics. It contains a good amount of proteins, fats, phosphorus and a very low amount of oxalate.
|32||21||10||Total Fibre (g/100g)|
Trichosanthes Cucumerina in Ayurveda
Snake Gourd is used as an anthelmintic agent to remove worms and parasites from the stomach. It is also used as an antimicrobial agent to prevent other stomach disorders.
It is used as a purgative, as a laxative, as a hydragogue to remove excess water from the body, and as an emetic to cause vomiting.
It is considered to have a cooling effect on the body and helps to flush the toxins out by cleansing the body organs.
- 30-60 grams of the leaves crushed along with coriander seeds should be taken thrice every day to treat jaundice.
What are the Health Benefits of Snake Gourd?
The health effects of the Trichosanthes Cucumerina plant are due to its rich and diverse antioxidant profile in the form of the carotenoids, flavonoids, lycopene, phenolics, and ß-carotenes.
Additionally, high mineral content in the flower and fruits makes them ideal for regular consumption to keep away from deficiency disorders.
Supports Body Detoxification
- Snake Gourd stimulates the liver and increases urination, thereby speeding up the elimination of toxins from the body.
- It also increases the creation of bodily fluids which can eliminate dryness and dehydration. This helps in the normal functioning of the kidneys and bladder.
- Juice from the leaves has an emetic effect. It can stimulate vomiting in case something toxic has been consumed.
Prevents Digestive Disorders
The high fiber content of the Snake Gourd strengthens the protective mucus layer, hence decreasing damage by the highly acidic gastric juice. This helps to prevent the antihistamine activity.
- It has a laxative effect. It eliminates constipation, reduces cramping, and bloating.
- It optimizes the nutrient absorption process in the body.
- It prevents inflammation in the digestive system and hence reduces the chances of health disorders as IBS and Ulcerative Colitis.
Recommended for Fever Reduction
Snake Gourd decoction can be given to people suffering from overnight fever, as it tends to break fever and starts the natural healing process.
Supports Hair Health and Growth
The high levels of carotenes can protect the weak hair follicles and stimulate the growth of new ones. This is why Snake Gourd is widely used for the treatment of alopecia.
It is also can be used to reduce the frequency and intensity of dandruff. Simply, rub the juice on your hair and keep it for one hour before washing. It moisturizes the scalp and stimulates the body to boost fluid protection.
Snake Gourd possesses anti-diabetic activity as it improves oral glucose tolerance. It promotes glucose uptake in peripheral tissues.
Also, it is low-calorie food and it can keep weight under control. So, it is beneficial for Type II Diabetes patients.
Prevents Heart Problems
Drinking two cups of Snake Gourd juice every day can improve blood circulation. High Potassium content in the fruits and flowers reduces bad cholesterol levels and promotes vascular health. It can be beneficial for the treatment of your heart problems as palpitations.
Tips on Selection and Storage of Snake Gourd
Snake Gourd fruit is usually non-consumable if it turns yellow or red. This is because the seeds mature and the pulp also turns highly fibrous. So, when looking for gourds in the market, look for thin versions that are not very very long. For colour, go for bright green to dark green colours. Avoid any pieces that have slightly yellow tinge or are thicker towards the centre
The gourd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week without any problem and outside the fridge for 2 days. Do not keep for very long as the gourd will keep maturing, making it harder to chew and relish the juicy taste.
Indian style Snake Gourd Soup Recipe
One pot Snake Gourd Soup – Indian style recipe
- Pressure Cooker (Optional)
- 700 g Snake Gourds About 2 Medium to Large
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 Medium Tomato
- 2 Sprigs Fresh coriander leaves or cilantro leaves For granishing
- 1 tbsp Ghee Peanut oil or Mustard oil or Olive Oil
- 1 inch Fresh ginger root
- 2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1½ tsp Salt To taste
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 tsp Coriander Seeds Powder
- Wash and lightly peel the gourd. Do not peel and wash but first wash and then peel. This to prevent the water soluble nutrients from running away into waste water.
- Cut horizontally in small – less than half inch pieces. Towards the centre the gourd turns thicker, so cut the horizontal pieces once more to make it easy to consume.
- Finely chop Onion, Garlic, Tomato, Coriander leaves, and grate the Ginger.
- Heat the pan and put the oil.
- Once the oil is little hot, add the mustard seeds.Let the seeds splutter.
- Then add garlic, onion, and ginger. Stir-fry for 5 mins till the mix turns golden.
- Add turmeric, salt, and coriander powder. Stir for another 2 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and stir for another 5 minutes till the tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add cut snake gourd pieces now. Mix well.
- Add 1½½ cup of water. Cook for another 10 minutes till the gourd is soft in texture.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve. Enjoy!