Karela, also known as bitter gourd, bitter melon, balsam pear, or foogwa, is a plant believed to have originated in the tropics of the Old World and is now widely distributed in China, Malaya, tropical Africa and India, with India considered to be an important center of genetic diversity. In India, Karela is considered one of the most nutritious gourds and is a commercially important vegetable. Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and a good source of carbohydrates, the fruits are fried, boiled, stuffed, dried, and pickled. Some cultures also consume the tender shoots and leaves. The fruits, leaves, and roots have long been used in India as a folk medicine for diabetes; and in the West Indies, tropical Mexico and South America karela is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs.

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