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Snake gourd   

Snake gourd bears the scientific name of Trichosanthes cucumerina and it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of vegetables. In Hindi language, it is known by the name of Padval or Padvalam. Other names used to refer to the same vegetable include Serpent Gourd, Chinese cucumber, Chichinga and Chhachindra, yet there are so many others as well. Average length of the vegetable goes to about 6 feet; whereas the vines can grow even more than 20 feet. The flesh of this vegetable bears resemblance to the luffa and calabash; while its taste has similarity with the Chinese bitter melons. However when compared with these related vegetables, it has a comparatively softer skin.  Popular use of the vegetable is seen in South Asian and South East Asian cookery.

The flowers of this vegetable are frilly and of white color; they bloom only when it is dark. The leaves are somewhat hairy and are angular in shape. And the fruit is long, curved and greenish white in color. Warm climate and supports for good shape are optimal conditions for best growth of the snake gourd. When the vegetable is fully ripe, it attains a red color. The seeds of this vegetable are rather slender.

Although a number of varieties of this vegetable can be grown but two main categories are mostly famous. In the present day, this vegetable is grown largely all over the world but the origin of the snake gourd is traced back to India and even today it is extensively grown and consumed there. It is a highly productive vegetable and has long been employed for its medicinal value, especially in Ayurvedic treatments. The vegetable is renowned for its cooling effect because of the high amount of water present in it. It is a good source of many different minerals and vitamins.

Snake gourd
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Cooking of the vegetable
Not only the vegetable itself, but also its shoots, leaves and tendrils are also used for edible purposes. In Indian cuisines, it is largely used to prepare traditional dishes in combination with lentils and pulses. It is also used largely in preparation of chutneys and pickles. It can also be used in preparation of soups. Mostly the snake gourd recipes include usage of coconut milk in them. Alternately you can cook this vegetable in a number of ways, including baking and stir frying. To enhance the taste experience by a great extent, you can also stuff the snake gourd with spices and other vegetables.

It can also be put to use as a dip or topping for bread. However it is important to consider that when the vegetable is fully ripe and red or orange in color, it is not fit for human consumption straightaway; still you can use it to prepare sauces or for its medicinal value. It is also used in cooking stews.

Some of the health benefits associated with the snake gourd is listed as follows:

Benefits for diabetic patients
Owing to its properties of wasting and thirst, the vegetable is also branded to be healthful for patients of diabetes. It is especially advantageous for type 2 diabetes, because of its ability to provide sufficient water content to the body. Alongside it is also great for reducing weight and is also low in calorie ingredient.

Heart healthy food
Consuming this vegetable in your daily diet is also a great way of warding off diseases of the heart. Furthermore, it also helps in the decomposition and absorption of the nutrients that we consume through food. It is also known to boost the production of body fluids and hence it serves to diminish the negative impacts of excessive dryness in our body. It is also a great way of providing relief to the body in case heart pain occurs due to any physical work.

Aiding digestion
The snake gourd is a highly recommended remedy for treating constipation. It is a great natural way of curing several other stomach disorders as well. The seeds as well as the juice extracted from the leaves of this vegetable, both are useful as a remedy for constipation. Comparatively more purgative ability is found in the juice extracted from this vegetable than the dried fruit of the snake gourd.

Possessing laxative properties
The vegetable is known to naturally possess laxative properties. It is a great way of removing the harmful toxins and pus from the body. This vegetable is also functional for disbanding the phlegm in the body. Leaves of this plant also possess medicinal properties.

Efficient in reducing fever
The particular property of lowering bilious fever has also been associated with the boiled snake gourd in combination with other elements, especially coriander leaves. It has also been found to be useful in encouraging nausea in instance where a person has ingested something poisonous.

Anti biotic and anti inflammatory
Consuming this vegetable will serve as a good anti inflammatory for the body. It is also functional in warding off bacteria and other disease causing germs. This vegetable is also notorious for casting a cooling effect on the body.

Additional health benefits
The vegetable is also important for people suffering from tuberculosis of the lungs since it has been established to be useful in controlling the amount of night sweating. After boiling, this vegetable can also be used as a treatment for jaundice. Health properties of the snake gourd are also seen in its ability to unclog the jamming of liver and thus aiding its proper functions.

An interesting use of the leaves of this vegetable is seen for treatment of baldness that results from the disease known as alopecia; juice extracted from the leaves of the snake gourd is applied to the scalp for this disease. However intake more than the recommended value can result in a few health problems as well.

Another valuable use of the vegetable is seen in curbing the development of HIV virus in the human body. It is largely known to be a febrifuge and drinking juice extracted from various parts of this vegetable is a valuable natural way of quenching thirst.

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