The bitter gourd, sometimes called the bitter melon, is a vegetable whose appearance closely resembles a cucumber. Bitter gourds primarily grow in very warm climates and are native to South America and Asia, the Juicing-For-Health website reports. Potassium, a key nutrient for the body, is found in bitter gourds.
Potassium helps with body fluid maintenance, helps with blood pressure control and promotes heart health, Dr. George Obikoya writes for the Vitamins & Nutrition Center website. Potassium also helps make the joints less stiff, helps headaches and helps wounds heal more quickly. A diet lacking the necessary potassium may lead to diabetes, inadequate blood circulation and weak muscles.
There is about 296 milligrams of potassium in 100 grams of fresh bitter gourd, the Nutrition-and-You website calculates. This amount of potassium represents about 6 percent of the daily allowance recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and is about double the amount of potassium found in bananas.
Nutrients and Benefits
Along with potassium, bitter gourd possesses a number of nutrients that promote overall health. Bitter gourds contain an insulin called polypeptide-P, which helps keep blood sugar in check. They are also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer by battling free radicals in the body. It also contains high levels of zinc, iron and manganese, Nutrition-and-You reports.
Although bitter gourd contains potassium, you'll need to find other food sources to meet its daily consumption requirements. The United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency recommends that adults get around 3,500 mg of potassium daily. High-potassium foods include squash, salmon, papayas, potatoes, bananas and asparagus, the Ohio State University Medical Center notes.
Speak to your doctor about how much potassium you need. The Juicing-For-Health website recommends selecting bitter gourds the same way you would select a cucumber — make sure the gourd is firm and not ripe. Do not eat more than a couple ounces of bitter gourd per day, because eating too much can lead to diarrhea and an upset stomach.