Ash gourd is also known as winter melon or wax gourd is a highly nutritious fruit. Ash gourd is found throughout the year.
However, a white powder liked patch is observed over mature ash gourd which is given its name of winter melon.
Although wax gourd is technically a fruit, it is consumed as a vegetable. This nutritious food is a rich source of micronutrients and macronutrients.
These nutrients may be able to provide several health benefits including cancer reduction. Let’s check whether ash gourd can be effective against cancer.
Ash Gourd Benefits for Cancer
Ash gourd contains healthy vitamins like vitamin C and niacin. Both these two vitamins have anti-cancer benefits.
Vitamin C Benefits
According to studies, high consumption of vitamin C with anticancer drugs may have therapeutic benefits over breast cancer cells.
This study has shown that high doses of vitamin C can decrease the cell viability of all breast cancer cell lines. The advantage was more clearly observed in MCF-7 cells especially (1).
Benefits of Niacin
Niacin is a B vitamin, also known as vitamin B3. Like vitamin C, niacin also has benefits over cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma are the three most common types of skin cancers.
According to studies, among these 3 types, niacin is effective against squamous cell carcinoma or SCC (2).
High in Dietary Fiber
Ash gourd is a moderately high source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is also associated with the reduction of cancer risk.
A high intake of total fiber can reduce breast cancer risk by 8 percent. This is applicable for both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer types (3).
Moreover, this benefit is greater in soluble fiber compared to insoluble fiber. As ash gourd contains a good amount of soluble fiber, the benefit may be greater.
Good Source of Calcium
Wintermelon is a good source of calcium. Scientific studies have shown that calcium intake can be beneficial for breast cancer reduction.
The calcium intake doses per day are inversely related to the risk of breast cancer. This is applicable for both premenopausal, and postmenopausal breast cancer.
According to studies, a daily calcium intake of 300 mg is associated with a 2 percent, 8 percent, and 2 percent reduction in the risk of total, premenopausal, and postmenopausal breast cancer, respectively (4).
Contains Plant Protein
Proteins derived from vegetables and fruits are called plant proteins. As ash gourd is a fruit it falls in the plant protein source category.
Although ash gourd contains a little amount of plant protein, it may be beneficial for ovarian cancer reduction.
Research on mice with implanted ovarian cancer has shown the benefits of plant protein over animal protein.
A clear reduction of ovarian cancer growth was observed in the 20 percent plant protein group rather than the 20 percent animal protein group (5).
Ash gourd also contains micronutrients like zinc and riboflavin. Both these two micronutrients can aid in cancer prevention and treatment.
Regular consumption of zinc is able to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are related to the occurrence of head and neck cancer.
Nearly 65 percent of patients with head and neck cancer have a zinc deficiency (6). That’s why zinc consumption from ash gourds may have beneficial effects on head and neck cancer.
Riboflavin Cancer Benefits
Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin present in ash gourds. A sufficient intake of riboflavin helps to prevent some forms of cancer in humans.
Riboflavin intake may decrease the risk of (7)
- Oesophageal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- colorectal cancer