Ash gourd is a tender vine, which produces large fruit. Famous as a wax gourd, winter melon, white gourd, and Chinese watermelon, the immature ash gourd fruit has thick white flesh and is fuzzy in appearance.
The botanical name of the ash gourd is Benicasa Hispida, with its roots in South and Southeast Asia. Ash gourd fruits are round, waxy, greyish, about 8-12 cm in length and 3-5 kg in weight.
Indian and Chinese cuisines use ash gourds in the preparation of stews, salads, and curries. Ash gourds have a neutral taste like cucumbers and blend easily with Indian flavours.
The humble Ash gourd also has immense medicinal properties that come in handy in treating various diseases and ailments. Low in calorific value, ash gourd prevents converting sugars into fat and is highly useful for diabetic and obese people.
Ash gourd fruits are enormous, and it is impossible to consume them at once. Therefore, processing ash gourd fruits into various commercial products minimise their wastage and prevent post-harvest loss.
Did you know Petha, a popular dessert and a speciality of Agra, is a product of ash gourd? Similarly, Sandga, an Indian heritage product, utilises the pulp of ash gourd in combination with various pulses like Bengal gram, green gram, and black gram. It is a highly nutritious food and has a long shelf life. The immense nutritional and medicinal values of ash gourd necessitate its processing into various value-added products.
1. Ash Gourd aids in better digestion
Since the vegetable is mostly made of water, it gets digested with ease. The high fibre content merely slows down the process. It does not make it harder to digest. Fibrous foods are known to relieve constipation and bloating. The low-calorie contents are simpler to digest.
2. Ash Gourd improves lung health
Ash gourds help with loosening phlegm formation in the lungs and nose. This is due to an expectorant property of the vegetable. It improves breathing and prevents any excess mucus secretion.
3. Ash Gourd increases energy levels
Vitamin B3 present in ash gourds increases energy levels. Those who suffer from anemia and body weakness can consume ash gourds regularly.
4. Ash Gourd treats ulcers naturally
Ash gourds prevent the stomach lining from rupturing. It is believed to cure peptic ulcers. They contain anti-microbial properties. It helps to eliminate harmful germs and bacteria in the stomach and intestine.
5. Ash Gourd contains anti-coagulant properties
This means ash gourd can stop excessive bleeding by thickening the blood. It is useful for those who consume blood thinners. It can also stop internal bleeding quickly. Continuous intake of ash gourd may stop regular nosebleeds.
6. Ash Gourd provides a cooling effect
Similar to cucumbers, ash gourds provide a cooling effect. It makes it ideal for consumption during summers. Cooling of the body is also related to increased sharpness of the mind.
7. Ash Gourd relaxes the body
Ash gourds contain mild sedative properties. It helps the body to relax and unwind. Health issues like anxiety and insomnia get resolved with the continuous use of ash gourds.
8. Ash Gourd regulates excretory system
The fibre content regulates bowel movements. Ash gourd also helps to detoxify kidneys. It promotes regular working of the bladder.
9. Ash Gourd treats dandruff
The cooling property of ash gourds can help to soothe irritated scalp. It eliminates dandruff-causing fungus. You can apply it to the scalp in gel form regularly. It also helps to moisturize dry hair.
10. Ash Gourd contains moisturizing property
The gel version of ash gourds has hydrating and moisturizing properties. Apply it to the skin regularly for best results. It can calm down irritated and sun-burnt skin.