Eating Bitter Gourd (Karela) in Pregnancy: Benefits & Risks

Eating Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes in a woman’s body and to cope up with those changes (and to ensure the proper growth of the baby), the woman has to make certain dietary and lifestyle changes. If you’re pregnant, you know what we are talking about. By now, you must have already made certain changes in your diet. Your diet now, most likely comprises of all sorts of healthy foods such as whole grains, green vegetables, and fruits as these will meet your nutritional requirements and ensure the healthy development of your baby too. And while most vegetables are good for baby’s health, some veggies and fruits such as bitter gourd may not be exactly healthy for your baby. Read on to know whether or not it can be consumed during pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Eat Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy?

Bitter gourds are rich in nutrients which are good for a baby’s health. However, there have been a few controversies due to the risks associated with consuming bitter gourd during your pregnancy. The jury is still out on this matter, so it is up to you to add bitter gourds to your diet or avoid them entirely.

Bitter Gourd Juice

Side Effects of Eating Bitter Gourd During Pregnancy

Eating bitter gourds can be harmful to the health of the baby. Mentioned below are the side effects of consuming bitter gourd in pregnancy.


Some women may experience favism if they consume bitter gourd during pregnancy. Favism is the destruction of red blood cells, which happens due to a molecule vicine present in bitter gourds. This could lead to anaemia and have disastrous repercussions on your pregnancy. Hence, it is best to avoid consuming bitter gourds during pregnancy. But if you still want to, you should speak to your doctor regarding it. If she gives a go-ahead, consume it in small quantities.


Bitter gourds are known to contain molecules such as quinine, momordica and glycosides. These substances can poison the body, leading to intestinal pain, problems with vision, vomiting, tiredness, muscle fatigue, nausea, and overproduction of saliva.

Stomach Problems

Bitter gourd consumption can result in stomach aches, indigestion, diarrhoea, pain in the abdomen, and so on. These effects can also come from eating bitter gourd seeds.

How Much Bitter Gourd Can You Have During Pregnancy?

Bitter gourd is unsafe for consumption during pregnancy – you know that now. But if you love karela, we know you will want to enjoy it once in a while during pregnancy and you CAN as long as you eat it in moderate amounts. You can have a cup of bitter gourd once or twice in a week, but make sure you do not exceed the quantity. A maximum of 2 cups of bitter gourd in the form of a curry or vegetable during pregnancy is recommended as long as it is not consumed in one sitting. You can consume in small quantities during lunch and dinner.  Better yet, consult your nutritionist before including it in your diet. If you have never had it before, we suggest that you don’t start eating it while pregnant.


1. Can I Have Bitter Gourd Juice During Pregnancy?

Drinking bitter gourd juice during pregnancy can induce contractions and can even cause bleeding. So it is best to avoid bitter gourd juice during pregnancy. However, if you want to drink it, consume it in small amounts after checking with your doctor.

2. Are Bitter Gourd Seeds Edible During Pregnancy?

Bitter gourd seeds are best avoided during pregnancy, especially if you have a G6PD deficiency. The seeds contain a chemical compound vicine, which could lead to favism. And it can further cause fever, nausea, anaemia, and stomach pain.

Not everything that is organic and natural should be consumed, especially when it could put your baby at risk. Bitter gourds are not really safe for consumption during pregnancy. If you want to eat it, consult your doctor.

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