Calabash (Lagenaria siceraria), also known as bottle gourd, white-flowered gourd, long melon, new Guinea bean and Tasmania bean is a vine grown for its fruit. It can be either harvested young to be consumed as a vegetable, or harvested mature to be dried and used as a utensil. When it is fresh, the fruit has a light green smooth skin and white flesh.
Calabash fruits have a variety of shapes: they can be huge and rounded, small and bottle shape, or slim and serpentine, and they can grow to be over a metre long. Rounder varieties are typically called calabash gourds. The gourds was one of the world’s first cultivated plants grown not primarily for food, but for use as containers.
The bottle may have been carried from Africa to Asia, Europe, and the Americas in the course of human migration, or seeds floating across the oceans inside the gourd. It has been proven to have existed in the New World prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Because bottle gourds are also called “calabashes”, they are sometimes confused with the hard, hollow fruits of the unrelated calabash tree (Crescentia cujete), whose fruits are also used to make utensils, containers, and musical instruments.
INCREDIBLE BENEFITS OF DRINKING BOTTLE GOURDS (LAUKI) JUICE
● Bottle gourd is around 92% water
● It is one of the healthiest vegetables around
● Among other things, it helps lower bad cholesterol levels too.
Let’s be clear. Juicing is not as bad for your health as you may think, especially when coupled with a well-balanced diet. Fresh juices give you a radiant and energetic life and help in cleaning your system. Yes, they shouldn’t be substituted for your daily meals but every once in a while it’s good to give your system a break. Moreover, there are some vegetables and fruits like those rich in Vitamin C that tend to lose their nutrients on cooking and therefore, it’s best to consume them raw or better still, juice them up.
By now, a lot of studies have shown that eating seven or more servings is what required for a healthy lifestyle and overall well being. There’s lot that nutrition scientists around the world don’t agree on, but most of them seem to advice that you should consume more vegetables than fruits.
Bottle gourds has always been regarded as one of the healthiest veggies. This very versatile vegetable is full of water (about 92%) and minerals and keeps your body hydrated. Also known as Lauki or Doodhi in India, it definitely doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. “Bottle gourd is a vegetable high on water and is rich source vitamin C, K and calcium.
It helps in maintaining a healthy heart and brings down bad cholesterol levels. The juice is also beneficial for diabetic patients as it stabilizes the blood sugar levels and maintains blood pressure. The best time to have it is morning. A small glass would just be perfect. Also, one needs to consume the juice immediately as it oxidizes quite fast, shares Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BOTTLE GOURDS
■ COOLS YOUR BODY
Bottle gourds juice has a cooling effect on your body and keeps your body hydrated especially during summers. It keeps your stomach cool and reduces body heat. Since you tend to sweat a lot during summers, drinking bottle gourd juice regularly helps in replenishing the water loss.
In her book, Back to Nature with Ayurveda, Asha Devi suggests that bottle gourd juice is a great remedy for any kind of heat related ailment like nose bleeding, pimples or ulcers.
■ HELPS IN WEIGHT LOSS
Bottle gourds juice is widely used for weight loss. It is packed with fiber which helps in keeping you full for longer and it is also low in calories. In her book, ’25 Fat Burning Juice Recipes’ Asha Thorat explains that bottle gourd has been prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce flab.
“Fiber is the key to weight loss. Bottle gourd contains less calories with no fat. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Iron, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.”
■ TREATS URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
Drinking freshly squeezed bottle gourd juice mixed with some lime juice is one of the best natural remedies to treat urinary tract infections.
■ CURES TUMMY TROUBLES
Bottle gourd juice helps in curing constipation and also treats diarrhoea. The water and fiber content help in cleaning your digestive tract and allows easy bowel movement.
To treat diarrhoea, drink bottle gourd juice with a pinch of salt. This concoction helps in maintain the electrolyte balance of the body. According to Ayurveda, bottle gourd juice is great for digestion.
■ KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY
Regular consumption of bottle gourd juice on an empty stomach every morning help in lowering your blood cholesterol levels and maintains healthy heart functions.
■ RELIEVE STRESS
Bottle gourd contains a good amount of choline – a kind of neurotransmitter that helps in improving the functions of the brain and helps in preventing stress, depression and other mental disorders.
■ AN EXCELLENT POST WORKOUT DRINK
Bottle gourd juice act as a natural post workout drink due to the presence of natural sugars in the vegetable which help in restoring the glucose levels and also replace the carbohydrates lost during you training session. Being rich in protein and other nutrients, bottle gourd juice also improves the efficiency of your muscles.
Bottle gourd juice should always be consumed fresh. Peel and gourd and try a bit of flesh before blending, it shouldn’t taste bitter. If it does, discard it. Also it is advised to have bottle gourd juice alone and not mixed with other vegetables. However, you can add amla, ginger, fresh mint leaves and some rock salt to spruce up the flavour.