The gourd family has many famous members in the Western world, such as the pumpkin and the butternut squash. But one member of this vegetable family, famous amongst the Eastern half of the world, is the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). Inside a firm but soft light green skinned shell, lies nutrient-rich flesh. The distinctive, curved container-like shape, gives this vegetable its name. Bottle gourds with a rounded shape are called calabash gourds.

Amongst African and Asian communities like the Chinese, Indians and the Arabs, it is a very popularly used vegetable in a wide range of culinary items and if a gourd is dried out, it can be used as a container or utensil. The health benefits of bottle gourd, when consumed in liquid or solid form, are surprising and varied.
Bottle Gourd Health Benefits

1 Whole Raw Gourd (771 g)
Calories108 kcal
Protein4.78 g
Fat0.15 g
Potassium1156 mg
Sodium15 mg
Iron1.54 mg
Calcium200 mg
Zinc5.40 mg
Vitamin C78 mg
Folate46 mcg
Vitamin A123 IU

This vegetable contains a large amount of water (96%) in its biological composition. So eating it cooked, can help raise water levels in the body. It also acts as a coolant and reduces internal body heat.
It has a high sodium and potassium content, so for those suffering from hypo-tension looking to increase their salt intake in a healthy manner, this veggie is a heaven-sent item.
Being fibrous, it can be eaten to satiate the appetite and reduce hunger pangs, making it an ideal food for those looking to lose weight. Its low calorie and fat content is also suitable for a weight-watcher's diet. It is easily digestible and this property aids in easing constipation, diarrhea, flatulence and indigestion.
Excess water and toxins are flushed out due to the diuretic properties of this vegetable. It acts as an edible body cleanser. Bottle gourd is useful in relieving an inflamed liver.
Daily consumption of bottle gourd can strengthen the body's immunity levels and help with diseases like tuberculosis, blood pressure, jaundice and certain conditions like hysteria (apply bottle gourd pulp).
A bitter tasting bottle gourd can act as an antidote for poisoning and acts as a tonic for cardiac problems, bronchitis, cough and asthma.
A word of caution: Do not eat this vegetable raw or uncooked. It has to be cooked even for inclusion in salads or sandwiches.

Benefits of Bottle Gourd Juice

Being a versatile vegetable, its juice is also nutritional and its benefits include:
Acts as an alkaline diuretic and helps treat urinary disorders. The high acidity of urine can cause a burning sensation during relieving oneself and a glass of gourd juice a day can get rid of such painful sensations. Here a teaspoon of lemon juice should be added to the juice.
Too much of oily or fried foods and disorders like diarrhea and diabetes can create unwarranted and excessive feelings of thirst. This can be solved by drinking a glass of bottle gourd juice with a little salt added to it, once a day.
Even on a hot summer's day, gourd juice is an excellent thirst-quencher and cooling liquid to drink. It replenishes the body's sodium levels, which can be lost through sweating.
Those suffering from sleeplessness or insomnia, should try a mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil. They should be mixed in equal proportion and massaged over the scalp.
Flatulence, indigestion and acidity can be eased with a glass of gourd juice. It also helps with reducing the flow of excess menstruation, eases piles and relives nervous disorders like epilepsy. It even helps prevent premature hair graying.
The juice made from the leaves of a bottle gourd plant can help with baldness and jaundice.
Concentration of salts and minerals in the body can lead to the formation of stones (a.k.a. calculus) in the body. Bottle gourd juice can break or dissolve such stones.
A glass of juice on an empty stomach in the morning can reduce your appetite and you won't feel any hunger pangs for quite a while. As a weight loss strategy aid, bottle gourd juice is invaluable. It also boosts your energy levels.
One can prepare a glass of juice, by peeling the gourd, chopping it into small pieces and making it liquid in a mixer. Alternately, grating a peeled gourd and squeezing it out through a clean cloth will also render juice. A pinch of salt can be added. Do not drink too much of this juice as it can cause ulcers.

When buying a gourd, look for tender and firm gourds with a light green, unmarked skin. Only tender or thin-skinned gourd's seeds can be eaten. Bottle gourd has a nutty, non-influential taste when added to food, it compliments the food being cooked. You can prepare this healthy veggie in a number of ways. Chop it or julienne it and steam or boil it. It can be used such in Chinese stir-fry or vegetable noodles. Eat it steamed with some yogurt. Bottle gourd can be made into chutneys or savory jams. You can even make a gravy or soup out of bottle gourd. The health benefits of this gourd make it an easy-to-add element to your daily cooking.