As its name suggests, ash gourd is grey or ash in colour and is a big vegetable like pumpkin. Its botanical name is Benincasa Hispida. It is also known with other names like white gourd, winter melon and fuzzy melon.
It is native to Southeast Asia, grown in India, China other East Asian countries. In India it is commonly known as Petha. It is usually cultivated for its medicinal and nourishing benefits.
It is a creeper which produces big yellow flowers. The leaves are long around 10 to 20 centimeters and have a hairy long stem. The fruits are usually oval in shape and grow up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Plant propagation is done by seeds.
This vegetable when immature has white thick flesh which is sweet. By the time it reaches maturity, it loses the hairs and a waxy coating is developed which provides a long shelf life.
It has several vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin, iron, thiamine, niacin and Vitamin C. Ash gourd has lot of moisture content and also minute amounts of fat, fibre, carbohydrates and protein. It has a calorific value of 15. It has seeds which contain a light yellow coloured oil.
Ash gourd has several curative properties. It has low calories making it a suitable edible item for obese and diabetic people. It has cooling effect and works as a laxative. Its healing properties make it one of the most commonly used herbal remedy for various problems.
Ash gourd is useful in flushing out toxins from the body. It increases the urine output and is beneficial in reducing inflammation.
Ash-gourd is loaded with nutrients. It’s an excellent source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), a good source of vitamin B3 (niacin), and vitamin C. It is also rich in many minerals like calcium. Its high potassium content makes this a good vegetable for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Containing almost 96% water, this gourd is a dietitian’s delight. Be sure to include this vegetable in your weght-loss diet.
In Ayurveda and other traditional eastern medicine, ash-gourd juice is used as a general tonic for its restorative properties. Because of the medicinal value of ash gourd, it’s frequently prescribed for treating various disorders.
For in stance, in Ayurveda, ash-gourd is used as brain food – to treat mental illnesses and nervous disorders such as epilepsy, paranoia, and insanity.
Ash-gourd is alkaline in nature and hence has a cooling and neutralizing effect on stomach acids and as such used effectively for treating digestive ailments like hyperacidity, dyspepsia, and ulcers. Ash-gourd juice is a popular home remedy for peptic ulcers. Ash-gourd juice is also used to treat diabetes.
Ash-gourd is also useful in treating respiratory disorders like asthma, blood-related diseases, and urinary diseases like kidney stones.
Every part of this fruit is useful. Ash-gourd leaves are rubbed on bruises to heal them, while the seeds are used for expelling intestinal worms. The ash made from burning the rind and seeds are mixed with coconut oil and used to promote hair growth and to treat dandruff.
Inexpensive and versatile, ash-gourd is a healthful vegetable that should definitely be a part of any nutritious diet.