The health benefits of ash-gourd have long been known. The ash-gourd is
mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita for its
many nutritional and medicinal properties.
Also known as white gourd, winter
melon, white pumpkin, wax gourd,
petha, safed kaddu, boodida gummadikaya, pooshnikai, ash gourd is
actually a fruit but is referred to as a vegetable because it is cooked
and eaten as a vegetable.
Oblong in shape, and 1 to 2 metres in length, ash-gourd has a smooth
rind that's an ashy green with white flesh, and big, flat, oval seeds
(like the red pumpkin). These gourds have been cultivated since ancient
times in countries like India, Malaysia, China, and Papua New Guinea.
In India, the ash-gourd is offered to the gods in religious ceremonies.
It is also considered to be effective in warding off evil spirits and
the evil eye -- hence it's hung outside newly constructed homes and
Ash-gourd is now found around the world. In the US, ash-gourd is
available pretty much year-round in Indian and Asian grocery stores. It
keeps well for a long time and is thus ideal for exporting. What
contributes to its longevity is the chalky wax on its skin which
prevents micro-organisms from attacking it and preserves it. Uncut
pumpkins can be stored for almost a year without refrigeration.
Ash-Gourd and Health
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
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 is used
as a general tonic for its restorative properties.
In Ayurveda, ash-gourd is also used as brain food - to treat mental
illnesses and nervous disorders such as epilepsy, paranoia, and
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
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.
Choose full-sized, mature fruit with a hard, unblemished rind. In the
US, this gourd is available pre-cut into large pieces and wrapped in
plastic. Select those with firm flesh. Store the cut pieces in the
Cut away all of the hard rind and cut into medium pieces before
cooking. Ash-gourd cooks very quickly and easily, so be sure to not
overcook it. If overcooked, ash-gourd almost dissolves in the water.
Ash-gourd has a bland taste and absorbs well the flavors of whatever
spices you use; as such it's great for soups, curries, as well as
desserts and sweets.
Unlike the uncut ash-gourd, cut ash-gourd needs to be refrigerated and
even then, it keeps fresh only for 3-4 days.
How The Banana Goes to
Heaven, Ratna Rajaiah Home Remedies for Common
Ailments, H.K. Bakhru