If you’re a fan of water melon or cucumbers, you would definitely love to have a bite of wax gourd. The plant is a cropping or climbing one just like the aforementioned plants of Curcubitaceae family. Wax gourd is also known for its other names such as Ash gourd, winter gourd, Chinese watermelon, and scientifically as Benincasa hispida.
Unlike watermelon, wax gourd is whitish inside, but greenish ash, with waxy skin. It is native to the humid tropical regions South East Asia, including India, Japan, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
How do you eat wax gourd?
Wax gourd is not typically eaten raw. It is usually edible after cooked. It tastes more like watermelon and cucumber. When cooked, the whitish flesh becomes transparent and soft. Wax gourd usually absorbed the accompanying flavors.
The fruit is eaten for medicinal purposes. The seeds are also edible once cooked. The fruit is often billed and eaten alone or as salads in soups or stews. It can be baked, fried, cut into pieces after peeling off the hard bark and eaten along other fruits. It can also be eaten raw like watermelon, but not commonly so.
Ash gourd in Indian tradition
There is an interesting story about the use of wax gourd in the ancient Indian traditions. According to a saying by Sadhguru, the Indians plant wax gourd around their houses because they believe it chases away bad spirits, and brings positivity to their house. However, they are forbidden to eat the nutritious fruits, which is more capable of bringing positivity to their own body.
According to Sadhguru, the local people are required to give their ash gourd to the Brahmin, and get in return punya somewhere, while the Brahmin gets a good food right in the ash gourd. He urged that instead of putting wax gourd in their houses, they should put it right into their stomach and become a source of good vibrations, and positivity.
Nutritional composition of Wax gourd
Wax gourd is well fortified with vitamins and minerals. The mineral composition of the fruit is in such high quantities that wax gourd is not recommended for someone who is managing kidney related diseases. It is also not a good fruit option for a person who has fever, as the high metal content may aggravate the situation.
Vitamins present in wax gourd fruits
The vitamins present in wax gourd are vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Of these vitamins, vitamin C ranked highest in their concentration.
Minerals present in wax gourd
wax gourd possess the highest number of mineral elements present in fruits. These metallic elements which includes calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium, are much needed in basic cellular functions. However, they also restrict the quantity you can consume per day to avoid exposing yourself to sickness.
Wax gourd contains proteins, carbohydrates and fiber
Although the carbohydrates and protein contents are very minute, they are nonetheless very essential for revitalization during office or field works. The presence of fiber in the fruits is of immense health benefits to your body, especially with regards to removing bad cholesterol, and preventing constipation.
Health benefits of wax gourd
There are several benefits of wax gourd, which are not just limited to the fruits but also to its seeds, and leaves. we shall try to cover as many of those benefits as possible for your personal consumption.
Ash gourd for detoxification
serving yourself a cup of wax gourd juice first thing in the morning is probably the best way to get your systems ready for the day’s activities. Wax gourd is a potent detoxifier. It eliminates all the accumulated toxins, flush every dirt away from your body, and ensure that waste products are properly removed.
The juice is best served early in the morning. When served, it removes every contamination you might have accumulated in the previous day. If this isn’t the best way to start a new day, then tell me which.
Wax gourd improves your eyes health
The vitamin B2 present in the fruit juice is very important to your body and plays important role in ensuring the continual functioning of the eyes. Vitamin B2 helps your retina receive light and improve vision. This is seen in the prevention of the formation of cataract, an eye defect which involves the blurring of your eyes by whitish tissues.
The strong antioxidants which are also present in the juice, such as vitamin C also protects the eyes from the harmful effects of free radicals. These free radicals usually attack the retina and macular, causing their tissue degeneration and formation of cataract.
Read also: 15 Velvet tamarind benefits you should know
Improves your heart health
Ash gourd is high in potassium and vitamin C, which are very essential for your heart functions. As a vasodilator, potassium is involved in the relaxation of your blood vessels, thereby enabling the free flow of blood through your arteries and veins.
Vitamin C has also been linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart diseases. As an antioxidant, vitamin C is involved in the prevention of the oxidation of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). LDL is oxidised, it forms plaques which when accumulated, causes the blockage of the blood vessels and subsequently lead to cardiac arrest.
Ash gourd stimulates growth and development in children
It is important you give your children Ash gourd juice on a regular basis. This is because it stimulates their growth and development. As a component of the mechanisms involved in collagen production, vitamin C helps in the development of cells, tissues, bones, muscles and blood vessels. It is also involved in the quick healing of wounds and bone fracture.
Winter gourd is touted to sharpen the brain and make one smarter. The juice is fortified with iron and folate which improves your brain functions. Folate prevents birth defects in fetal brains.
The presence of iron in the blood ensures the proper circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain cells. This enables brain to get all the required nutrients and energy it needs to function effectively.
Prevents insomnia and depression
If you want to maintain a positive energy through out the day, just drink a cup of winter gourd every morning before heading to your work place. You remember the Indian story of good vibration which is associated with Ash gourd? That’s exactly how you would feel with the juice.
Wax gourd juice prevents insomnia, depression and anxiety disorder. It stimulates the release of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that are involve in maintaining a happy mood. So you see, you have a great juice here for your general well being.
Supports digestion of food
Wax gourd contains sufficient amount of fiber. This dietary fiber improves digestion of food and prevents constipation. Fiber is also involved in maintaining the muscle movement of the large intestinal wall, thereby making it easy to pass out faeces.
Wax gourd for gastric ulcer
Wax gourd juice is a basic solution. This means that it has the ability to counter the harmful effect of excess acid secretion in your duodenal mucosa.
Drink a cup of Ash gourd juice early in the morning and wait for atleast three hours before breakfast. This will give the juice enough time to counter the acidic effect on your stomach regions.
Ash gourd for diabetes
The fruit peel of Ash gourd has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment and prevention of metabolic diseases such as hyperglycemia and obesity. The peel has also been shown to possess strong inhibitory effect on the alpha-glucosidase enzyme.
In the ayurveda system of traditional medicine, the peel of the fruit has been used to treat diabetes. According to studies, the peel contains active phytochemicals such as tannins, flavonoid, saponins and triterpenes. These compounds possess antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities, which are good for improving the pancreatic beta cells and insulin sensitivity.
Ash gourd acts as a body natural coolant
wax gourd juice is best for hot weather. When taken, the juice has this cooling effect on the body. That’s it is why it is not good for cold weather because it will aggravate the cold in your body. Talk of something to help you sleep soundly through the night, you would easily think of wax gourd juice.
Wax gourd recipes
There are several ways to savor ash gourd juice. You already knew, or have had that it is bland to taste and usually assume the taste of additives. Just like cucumber, wax gourd doesn’t have a taste of its own. You can actually eat the whitish inner tissue with groundnut, just like in cucumber, or squeeze out the juice using a blender.
- wax gourd fruit
- Lime juice or honey
- A table salt
- black powdered pepper
- Thoroughly wash the ash gourd fruit
- Peel off the hard outer skin
- Remove the seeds
- Dice into a cup or small plate
- Transfer the diced fruits into a blender and blend for 3 minutes
- Filter the juice and remove those residues
- Add honey (Lime juice, or coconut water) a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately.
Can i store ash gourd juice for a long time?
Wax gourd juice looses it nutrients with time. It is not advisable to store your juice for a day or two if it has to do with ash gourd. Once made, it is best to serve immediately.
Where can i buy ash gourd?
Although ash gourd is native to the tropical humid regions of Asia, There is a high probability that it may survive on the African soil. May be someone should try it on his garden. But till then, you can only get to buy ash gourd from Asian super markets. You may as well buy directly from the local farmers, if you can go to those rural places.
How to grow and care for Ash gourd plant
Ash gourd is relatively easy to grow and care for. It doesn’t require much to grow it, and also doesn’t require much to care for it. One cardinal thing you must take note of is the soil type, and the nutritional content of the soil. Have it in your mind that, like watermelon and cucumber, ash gourd is likely not going to do well in a clay soil. For the best of it, plant it in a sandy-loamy soil. The best is humus soil.
Where to grow ash gourd in garden and pot
Wax gourd can be grown in your garden, in the distant farmland, or even in your balcony. To grow ash gourd in your balcony, you would need an eaten pot for that.
If you want ash gourd grown in your garden, you would need to first clear the garden or farmland, make nursery beds and apply compost manure. But before then, you would need to have harvested an ash gourd fruit that had ripen and dried from the previous harvest season. The seeds are separated and allowed to dry under shade and kept dry throughout the year till now that you wanted to grow the plant.
Having done the above, spread your ash gourd seeds, giving spaces through out the nursery bed that you made. Cover the seeds with soil to avoid been eaten up by birds. Next, cover the bed with organic wastes as compost manure.
If you want to grow your plant in a pot, you only need to make sure the soil possesses the required nutrients. Also, ensure you mixed the soil with compost manure and place in a location where it can receive adequate sunlight.
How to care for wax gourd
In order to properly care for your plant, certain environmental and climatic conditions must be met. Otherwise, your plant will either die off before reaching maturity, or produce a very poor yield. Some of the conditions you must meet are discussed below.
Ash gourd grows well between the temperature ranges of 25 degree Celsius and 31 degree Celsius. It doesn’t grow well in extreme cold temperature, nor does it grow well in extreme high temperature ranges.
ash gourd grows well in area with adequate rainfall, but not in extreme heavy rainfall. In the native land where it is grown, the plant is best grown around February to March, and between September to December. However, if you are resident in African countries, especially West African countries like Nigeria, the best season to plant Ash gourd is between March to April, and between September to November. At these periods, there are not extreme rainfall, and it is hard for pests to eat up your young growing plants.
As stated earlier, The soil must be humus and nutrient rich. Do not make your nursery in a water lodged area, as this may cause the rotting of the plant stems and roots, thereby affecting the yield. The plant also require proper irrigation system for those that would grow it in dry seasons.
Wax gourd does not require much fertilizer. So long as you ensure the soil is humus and have mixed it with compost manure, you would see your plant growing faster than others. if you are growing this plant in your balcony, then you would need to Always add organic matters from time to time.
Pests and disease control
The major pests that attack wax gourd are leaf beetles, leaf caterpillar, and fruit flies. These pests are controlled with different methods. If the pests ravaging your crop plant are caterpillar leaf beetle, use Malathion 50 EC 1ml/Liter of water, or Dimethoate 30EC 1ml/liter of water.
For the fruit flies, do make use of neem oil. Also, remove the damaged fruits.
Diseases of Ash gourd
The two major diseases that affects the plant are powdery mildew and downy mildew. You can control both diseases by spraying the plants with Dinocarp 1 ml/ liter of water, and Chlorothalonil 2 gm/ liter of water.
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