A cost-effective way to ameliorate problems with diabetes and obesity is use of plant-based products. M. Charantia (bitter melon or bitter gourd) is widely cultivated in Asia, India, East Africa, and South America for its intensely bitter fruits that are commonly used in cooking and as a natural remedy for treating diabetes. Bitter melon is a powerful nutrient-dense plant composed of a complex array of beneficial compounds. These include bioactive chemicals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which all contribute to its remarkable versatility in treating a wide range of illnesses. The fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, as well as vitamin B9 (folate). The fruit is also rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, and is a good source of dietary fiber (bitter melon “monograph”, 2008). Medicinal value of bitter melon has been attributed to its high antioxidant properties due in part to phenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, anthroquinones, and glucosinolates, all of which confer a bitter taste. The main constituents of bitter melon which are responsible for the antidiabetic effects are triterpene, proteid, steroid, alkaloid, inorganic, lipid, and phenolic compounds. In particular, four triterpenoids have AMP-activated protein kinase activity which is a plausible hypoglycaemic mechanism of M. charantia.
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