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As its name suggests, ash gourd is grey or ash in colour and is a big vegetable like pumpkin. Its botanical name is Benincasa Hispida. It is also known with other names like white gourd, winter melon and fuzzy melon. It is native to Southeast Asia, grown in India, China other East Asian countries. In India it is commonly known as Petha. It is usually cultivated for its medicinal and nourishing benefits.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF ASH GOURD It is a creeper which produces big yellow flowers. The leaves are long around 10 to 20 centimeters and have a hairy long stem. The fruits are usually oval in shape and grow up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Plant propagation is done by seeds. This vegetable when immature has white thick flesh which is sweet. By the time it reaches maturity, it loses the hairs and a waxy coating is developed which provides a long shelf life. NUTRIENT COMPOSITION It has several vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin, iron, thiamine, niacin and Vitamin C. Ash gourd has lot of moisture content and also minute amounts of fat, fibre, carbohydrates and protein. It has a calorific value of 15. It has seeds which contain a light yellow coloured oil. THE NUTRITION VALUES PER 100 G OF ASH GOURD ARE:  Protein: 0.4 g  Fat: 0.1 g  Carbohydrate: 1.9 g  Iron: 0.8 g  Energy: 10K cal THERAPEUTIC PROPERTIES OF ASH GOURD  Ash gourd is beneficial for diabetic patients and obese persons.  The cooling property of the juice induces relief in acidity and peptic ulcers.  Ash gourd is known to stabilize nerve cells and combat general debility.  Ash gourd seeds are anabolic and hence promote tissue growth.  It eliminates constipation and soothes the gastrointestinal tract. Ash gourd has several curative properties. It has low calories making it a suitable edible item for obese and diabetic people. It has cooling effect and works as a laxative. Its healing properties make it one of the most commonly used herbal remedy for various problems. Ash gourd is useful in flushing out toxins from the body. It increases the urine output and is beneficial in reducing inflammation. CURE FOR AILMENTS  Peptic Ulcer: It is an efficient remedy for curing peptic ulcer. Ash gourd juice mixed with equal quantities of water should be consumed in the morning on an empty stomach. There should be a gap of about two to three hours before any food is consumed. This juice is also beneficial in the inflammation of alimentary canal.Bleeding: It is used to stop profuse bleeding from nose and lungs. Ash gourd acts like a blood coagulant. The fresh juice of ash gourd should be mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice or amla juice for relief in conditions like piles and haematuria, a disease wherein blood cells are seen in urine.  Intestinal worms: Seeds of ash gourd should be shelled and mixed with coconut milk. They are beneficial in promoting tissue growth and expelling tape worm and other parasitic worms from the stomach.  General weakness: Pulp of ash gourd is boiled in water and sugar syrup is added to it to make it an edible mixture. This sweet pulp is useful in gaining weight, improves the efficiency of heart, produces heat in the body, and reduces tuberculosis and anemia.  Dandruff: The seeds and the peel of ash gourd should be boiled in coconut oil and applied to hair which prevents dandruff, dryness of the scalp and promotes hair growth.  Mouth ulcers: Gargling with the juice of ash gourd is beneficial in protecting the life of the teeth and gums. It reduces mouth ulcers and bleeding of gums as well.  Thyroid: Regular consumption of ash gourd juice is beneficial in reducing symptoms related to thyroid disorders.  Cough and cold: Consumption of ash gourd juice and pulp regularly will help to reduce common cold, cough, bronchitis, sinusitis and influenza. It is also beneficial in curing chronic asthma. ASH-GOURD AND HEALTH QUICK FACTS 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 blood pressure. 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 juice is used as a general tonic for its restorative properties. Because of the medicinal value of ash gourd, it‘s frequently prescribed for treating various disorders. For in stance, in Ayurveda, ash-gourd is used as brain food – to treat mental illnesses and nervous disorders such as epilepsy, paranoia, and insanity. 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 stones. 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. COOKING TIPS  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 refrigerator  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. Try this simple ash gourd curry.  Unlike the uncut ash-gourd, cut ash-gourd needs to be refrigerated and even then, it keeps fresh only for 3-4 days


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