Snake gourd is regarded as a high-nourishing vegetable with outstanding nutrient value and functional benefits for human health. For example, one recent animal study suggests that Snake gourd fruit pulp extract can be used to prevent or treat dyslipidemia, protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, and DNA fragmentation in the liver, this is due to its rich antioxidant content .
It is a versatile vegetable that most people called snake tomatoes, chikoo, Chinese gherkin, or tindora, and is a type of gourd that is native to Southeast Asia and other countries like Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, the Peninsula, and the Philippines. It is a long, slender vegetable with smooth, pale green skin. The flesh of the snake gourd is white and crisp, and it has a mild, slightly sweet taste.
Snake gourd is a good source of vitamins E, A, C, and K, as well as fiber, potassium, and magnesium, Zinc, Sodium, phosphorus. It is also low in calories and fat .
- Phenolic acids
The whole plant, including its roots, leaves, fruits, and seeds, has been reported to have medicinal properties, such as antidiabetic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, antifebrile, gastroprotective, and antioxidant activity. Below are some of the detailed health benefits of snake tomato
Boost Immune system
Snake gourd contains antioxidants flavonoids, phenolic acid, and ascorbic acid, which can help to boost the immune system. These compounds have a high free radicals scavenging property, which can help lower oxidative stress and protect the body against damage from free radicals. A supporting study finds that snake tomato fruit pulp extract can be used to prevent or treat dyslipidemia, protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, and DNA fragmentation in the liver, this is due to its rich antioxidant content .
Another investigative study on snake gourds shows that the aerial parts exhibited significant antioxidant activity in vitro and in vivo. The hot water extract is more effective than the cold ethanolic extract at preventing lipid peroxidation and increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the liver. This suggests that the plant may have potential therapeutic benefits for conditions that are associated with oxidative stress .
May help lower blood sugar levels
It has anti-diabetic properties, which can help to lower blood sugar levels. A study in rats found that a hot water extract of snake gourd aerial parts significantly reduced fasting blood glucose levels in both normal and diabetic rats, it also improved glucose tolerance in both groups. This shows that it may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes .
It is important to know this the study is based on animal models, hence human-centered research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the optimal dosage and safety of snake gourd for treating diabetes.
In a country like Sri Lanka, the snake gourd is recognized in their traditional medicine as a potential plant used to treat inflammatory conditions, this can be linked to its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body.
A supporting investigative study on the anti-inflammatory potential of Trichosanthes cucumerina (snake tomatoes) using its hot water extract and its fractions. The study noted that at doses of 500, 750, and 1000 mg/kg of the hot water extract, there was significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced paw edema. This inhibition was also found to increase in effect as time goes. For example, at 5 hours after injection, the extract demonstrated the greatest level of inhibition .
The results of this study suggest that snake gourd may be a potential treatment for inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.
May help to fight against infections
It has antimicrobial properties, which can help to fight against infections. The Investigation of the antibacterial activity of a hot water extract and a cold ethanolic extract of snake gourd revealed that the activities of both gram-positive and gram-negativecterial strains such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Escherichia coli an,d Pseudomonas aeroginosa were inhibited [7, 8]. However, a well vast study is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the mechanism of action of the extracts.
May help prevent gastric ulcers
Snake gourd hot water extract has a gastroprotective effect against gastric mucosa. This means intake may help protect the stomach from gastric ulcers. A supporting study suggests that hot water of snake tomatoes has gastroprotective effects which work by increasing the protective mucus layer and decreasing the acidity of the gastric juice, this inhibits histamine activity, making it a potential natural remedy for the treatment of gastric ulcers .
Promotes Weight loss
Snake gourd is a low-calorie vegetable that is high in dietary fiber, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and promote gut health. This makes it a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Improves heart health
Snake gourd contains potassium, which is a mineral that helps to regulate blood pressure. It also contains antioxidants, which can help to protect the heart from damage.
Snake gourd is a good source of fiber, which can help to keep the digestive system healthy. It also contains antioxidants, which can help to protect the stomach from damage.
Improves Skin Health
Snake gourd contains vitamins A and C, which are essential for skin health. These vitamins help to protect the skin from damage and promote collagen production.
Snake gourd during pregnancy
Is snake tomatoes good for pregnant women? There are purported claims that snake tomatoes may aid fetal development
when taken moderately during pregnancy, as it is a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as folate, potassium, and magnesium. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eating snake gourd is harmful to pregnant women. It is a good source of nutrients that are essential for pregnant women, such as folate, vitamin C, and potassium. Folate is important for preventing neural tube defects, vitamin C is important for the immune system, and potassium is important for blood pressure regulation.
How to use
Snake gourd can be eaten cooked. It can be stir-fried, steamed, or roasted. The ripe fruit can be blended into pasta and can be used for stew. It can also be added to salads or soups. Snake gourd is a versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed in many different ways.
Have antinutrient compounds: A chemical analysis shows the presence of Oxalate, Phytate, and Tannins in a very small amount, some of these compounds may act as anti-nutrients, which means excessive intake of raw extract of the fruit may lower nutrient absorption .
Snake gourd can cause indigestion in some people. This is because it is high in fiber.
Snake gourd can cause an allergic reaction in some people. This is usually due to the pollen of the plant.
Snake gourd contains oxalates, which can form kidney stones in some people.
Overall, snake gourd is a healthy vegetable that has many potential health benefits. However, it is important to eat it in moderation and to be aware of the potential side effects.
JC is passionate about finding the impact of foods (feeding habits) on human fertility and reproductive health and a way to improve fertility.