As a child, I remember eating the white sweet Agra petha and wondered what it was made of. Later, I was surprised to learn that it was made from one of those vegetables I never liked having as a child — ash gourds.
Known as Safed Petha in Hindi and Kumbalanga in Malayalam, this vegetable was grown abundantly in my grandmother’s backyard. Hence I often used to discover it on my plate in different forms — as curries, thoran (stir fry), pachadi and even in my favourite sambar.
Quite a versatile vegetable, ash gourd, also known as a wax gourd, white pumpkin, winter melon or Chinese watermelon, is native to Southern Asia and is quite common in Indian kitchens. Science says that the vegetable does have a lot of nutritional value and hence has been used as an ingredient in several traditional Ayurvedic medicines.
Owing to its health benefits, it has been also consumed in the form of juice by many.
Similar to cucumbers, ash gourds have a high content of water. They are also rich in fibre and have certain amounts of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, copper, and manganese along with several B vitamins and vitamin C.
Here is a list of health benefits of ash gourd juice:
1. Helps in cooling down the body:
As mentioned earlier, ash gourds are composed mostly of water (96 per cent water), therefore drinking its juice can help cool down the body systems. During summers, the petha juice can be consumed just like cucumber juice to release the excess heat generated in the body.
2. Aids weight loss and detox:
Ash gourd is a negative-calorie food similar to cucumber as they are very low in calories. Besides, they are very low in fat, protein and carbs as well. Therefore, the water content helps in detoxifying and promoting weight loss. Also, the fibre content in it keeps one feeling fuller for longer. This helps in controlling food cravings as well as in bringing down the overall calorie intake.
3. Improves digestion and gut health:
The fibre content in the ash gourd helps in promoting good gut health. The soluble fibre in the juice aids the growth of good bacteria in the gut thereby promoting good digestion. This also helps in preventing digestive issues like constipation and helps regular bowel movements.
4. Relieves acidity:
Ash gourds are alkaline in nature and therefore it has a neutralising effect on the body and helps in preventing acidity issues.
5. Increases energy levels:
The content of Vitamin B3 or niacin in ash gourds helps in boosting energy metabolism in the body. The niacin helps break down nutrients and food into energy by adding enzymes.
Here’s a recipe to make the healthy juice:
- Wash and peel the ash gourd.
- Remove the seeds and the soft centre part of the vegetable.
- Dice the gourd into small pieces.
- Add the diced gourd into the blender and blend until it becomes a smooth puree.
- Strain the puree and extract the juice.
- The juice can be consumed plain or by adding lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
NUTRACEUTICAL VALUES OF ASH GOURD- A REVIEW, published by ResearchGate in July 2020.
Physicochemical and functional properties of ash gourd/bottle gourd beverages blended with jamun.), by Shanooba Palamthodi, Deepak Kadam and S. S. Lele published by National Institute of Biotechnoligy Information on 1 December 2018.
Vitamin B3 revitalizes energy metabolism in muscle disease, published by ScienceDaily on 14 May 2020.
Turn down the heat with safed petha juice, which Masaba Gupta swears by!, by Manasvi Jain; published by HealthShots on 17 July 2022.
What Is Ash Gourd? All You Need to Know, published by Healthline.
Vegetable gourds – guards of human health: a critical appraisal, by C.S. Devaki, D. D. Wadikar, P.E. Patki; published by Nutrition & Food Science on 9 February 2015.
Edited by Yoshita Rao