Better bitter gourd: a food-based approach to manage type 2 diabetes and promote health in developing countries

R.Y. Yang, J.W. Luoh, N. Dhillon, P. Hanson, M. Krawinkel, S. Habicht, C. Ludwig, A. Subramanian, K. Gomathi, M. Swai, C.J. Huang, C. Hsiung
More than 285 million people in the world live with diabetes, 80% of which reside in low- and middle-income countries. Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) is a low-cost, food-based intervention that can play a vital role in the treatment and prevention of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. To provide evidence-based dietary recommendations for bitter gourd, a consortium of scientists and experts from Germany, India, Taiwan, Tanzania and Thailand participated in the design and implementation of a three-year research project from 2011 to 2014. This paper gives an overview of the project approach and some preliminary results. The project aims to (1) optimize production and utilization of antidiabetic compounds in bitter gourd through varietal selection, postharvest practices and preparation methods; (2) determine optimal dosage through in vitro, mice, and human studies; and (3) develop dietary strategies for diabetes management and prevention in Asia and Africa. Currently, the project has undertaken bitter gourd surveys among diabetic patients, medical experts, general consumers, sellers, and producers in Taiwan, India and Tanzania; horticultural evaluations and phytochemical analyses of 53 bitter gourd germplasm accessions and 20 commercial hybrids; animal studies on bitter gourdRSQUOs antidiabetic properties; placebo-controlled double-blind cross-over studies on human subjects in India and Tanzania; and research on the effects of cooking and storage on bitter gourdRSQUOs antidiabetic properties. Project-related communications and promotions are published in print and web-based platforms ( This project to apply a food-based intervention to tackle a health problem in developing countries is the first of its kind linking nations and institutions that study bitter gourd.
Yang, R.Y., Luoh, J.W., Dhillon, N., Hanson, P., Krawinkel, M., Habicht, S., Ludwig, C., Subramanian, A., Gomathi, K., Swai, M., Huang, C.J. and Hsiung, C. (2015). Better bitter gourd: a food-based approach to manage type 2 diabetes and promote health in developing countries. Acta Hortic. 1106, 161-168
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1106.25
varietal selection, phytochemical, dietary strategies, human study, health economic

Acta Horticulturae