Goya Superfood From Okinawa To Lower Blood Sugar | Health Benefits Of Goya Vegetable

24 May 2023Shopify API

ve you heard about Okinawa’s goya superfood that  lowers blood sugar? I’ll tell you all about it here!

Started the new year on a healthy note? If you have, you have probably cut out the junk and processed food from your diet and are trying to include more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

Related: Check out Osechi Ryori the food that the Japanese eat during the New Year!

Here’s one of the best superfoods you can add to your diet - Okinawa's goya superfood to lower blood sugar. 

If you’ve been living in Japan for a while, it’s quite possible that you have come across the Goya superfood in supermarkets and other grocery stores.

There is also a special day in the month of May, dedicated to this superfood, where people celebrate and honour it. 

If all of this has made you curious, here’s a detailed article on what the Goya superfood is, its health benefits and also, how you can include it in your daily diet. 

Goya Superfood From Okinawa To Lower Blood Sugar

What Is Goya Vegetable?

Goya superfood is one of those miracle superfoods given to us by Mother Nature. It is loaded with nutrients that improve your digestion and bring down your blood sugar levels. 

Borderline type 2 diabetics can indeed rely on the goya to stabilise their blood sugar levels without medication, depending, of course, on the severity of their diabetes. 

Goyas are green in colour, the darker ones being the younger and less bitter ones. They are shaped like gourds, and hence go by the English name, “Bitter Gourd”. 

They are also called “Bitter Melons”. They are roughly the size of a local cucumber and have a ridge-y or bumpy exterior. The flesh is firm, yet soft and they have seeds inside. 

Goyas grow well in the warmer months, in humid and tropical weather, and can be seen in abundance during the summer months in Japan. 

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Health Benefits Of Goya Vegetable

You may not like the taste of the Goya initially since it is quite bitter (It’s more of an acquired taste), but you cannot deny that the health benefits of this vegetable sweeten it by a large extent.

Goya has been used for many centuries in Chinese medicine and in Ayurveda to treat several health diseases and conditions.


Over a period of time, this vegetable found its way to our dining table as part of a healthy and balanced diet. 

vegan goya chanpuru
Source: Pexels

Goya for weightloss & weight management

Goyas are very low in calories, as is the case with other gourds and melons.

It is high in fibre, therefore a great ingredient to include in your meals or can be had as a juice between your meals. It can fill you up quickly without adding on the kilos.

Eating Goya Can Help Control Diabetes

The vegetable contains a high amount of Polypeptide-P, an important phytonutrient responsible for lowering blood sugar levels in the body.

Along with this it contains Charantin, which metabolises the glucose in the body, making this the ideal vegetable for consumption by someone who might have type 2 diabetes.

Goya Is A Natural Remedy For Constipation

People struggling with constipation will have some relief by consuming goya everyday. Goya superfood regulates the digestive system and improves digestion. It also eases the bowels, helping relieve constipation.

Goya purifies your blood

Goya superfood purifies the blood, acts as a detoxification for the liver and cleanses the system.

This helps reduce water retention, push out toxins and helps keep kidney stones away.

Goya cools your body

Goya superfood grows plenty in the summer and it comes with a cooling property. This helps cool down your body which is especially needed during the hot summer months.

Keeping your body cool keeps away other health issues triggered by the heat, along with skin free of pimples and breakouts.

Vitamins & Folates present in Goya

Goya superfood is loaded with a whole lot of vitamins like C, K, E and B. Also, since it is rich in folates, goya is believed to reduce the risk of cancers, as it can kill cancer cells.

The vitamins nourish the body and keep the skin glowing. You can proudly sport healthy hair and nails when you consume goya regularly. 

As a side note, the cooling, detoxifying, blood purifying and hydrating properties of goya also make its juice an excellent hangover cure! 

Related: Try out these yummy curry brands from Japan, here!

Where to buy Japanese goya?

If you're looking to buy Japanese goya, also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd, there are a few places you can try:

  1. Asian grocery stores: Look for Asian grocery stores in your area that specialize in Japanese or East Asian products. These stores often carry a variety of fresh produce, including Japanese goya.
  2. Online Asian grocery stores: Many online retailers specialize in Asian groceries and deliver products to your doorstep. Some popular online stores include Asian Food Grocer, Hmart, and Japan Super.
  3. Farmers markets: Check if there are any farmers markets in your area that feature Asian produce. Local farmers markets often have a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, and you may find Japanese goya during its season.
  4. Japanese specialty stores: If there are any Japanese specialty stores in your area, they may carry Japanese goya. These stores usually focus on providing authentic Japanese ingredients and products.
  5. Local ethnic communities: In areas with a significant Japanese or Asian population, there may be community organizations or markets where you can find Japanese goya. Check for local events or forums where you can connect with community members who might be able to direct you to the right places.

Remember that the availability of Japanese goya can vary depending on your location and the season, so it's a good idea to call ahead or check online before visiting any specific store.

How To Use Goya Vegetable

Don’t let the bitter taste of Goya put you off. Raw goya has quite an unbearably bitter flavour that even the most seasoned goya eater cannot possibly stomach. 

The Japanese, however, have found unique ways of reducing the bitterness of this vegetable and have created ingenious recipes that actually make the Goya delicious. In fact, I love goya so much that I make sure it’s cooked at home at least thrice a week. 

goya vegetable buy
Source: Unsplash

One important tip I can give you is in selecting the right goya. Choose goya superfood that has dark green skin and feel firm, yet more tender.

These are the younger goya superfood and these are a lot less bitter than the older vegetables that have ripened or grown too much. 

Like any summer vegetable, you can either use the goya superfood in a meal, a snack or even as part of a beverage. 

Reducing The Bitterness Of Goya

The first and very effective step in reducing the bitterness of the goya is by slicing it open and getting rid of the seeds.

 The seeds are the most bitter part of the vegetable and once these are removed and discarded, the bitterness of the vegetable comes down by a large extent. The rind of the goya also adds to the bitterness, so scrape and remove it. 

Secondly, to reduce the bitterness even further, slice or dice the vegetable depending on the recipe you wish to use it in. Take a pot of fresh, clean water and bring it to a boil. Immerse the goya slices or cubes into this water and let it boil for a few minutes.

 Drain the water and rinse the goya with cool, plain water. Most of the bitterness should be gone by now, leaving you with just juicy chunks or slices of the vegetable.

If boiling the goya seems cumbersome, you can also try the salting method. Scrape away the rind of the goya and slice it lengthwise into two. Remove all the seeds and discard.

 Rub the goya with some salt all over and leave it for about 15 minutes on a paper towel or a plate. The salt draws out the bitterness of the goya. 

You can wipe away this salt, (even rinse it lightly in plain water), dry the goya thoroughly and use it in your favourite dishes minus the unpleasant bitterness. 

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Goya Vegetable Recipes

Goya Champuru

You can use the goya superfood in many different recipes, just like the Japanese do. One popular dish you will find in many Japanese homes is the Goya Champuru.

This is a hearty dish, also very healthy, considered comfort food by many Japanese who grew up eating it. 

It’s kind of like a stir fry with eggs, tofu and goya superfood, along with other vegetables, supplying loads of protein, vitamins and antioxidants. 

Since this dish has so many ingredients that are cooked and seasoned, it’s a good way to explore goya and develop a taste for it. Feel free to customise it and add some pork or chicken meat if you like. 

Goya Salad

These days goya superfood is used commonly in salads and can be found on the menu of many restaurants. It’s also very easy to make and delicious.

 Simply remove the bitterness from the goya as suggested above, squeeze out the excess water from the vegetable by placing it on a kitchen towel or a paper towel.

Chop up your favourite vegetables, meats and croutons, and add the chopped or sliced goya to it. 

I find that grated or thinly sliced cabbage, lettuce and a nice creamy dressing goes amazingly well with goya superfood. Add toppings of your choice for a healthy meal or snack. 

Okinawa vegetable
Source Unsplash

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Goya Snacks / Goya Chips

If you’re in the mood for a spicy snack, the mildly bitter taste of the boiled goya is perfect with any spicy sauce or powder. 

You can roast the boiled goya with a little bit of oil or bake it in the oven after seasoning it with the level of spice you’re comfortable with.

Just make sure you squeeze out all the excess water and dry it completely so that it becomes crisp and crunchy on roasting. 

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Goya Juice

With the world going into a health kick, more and more vegetable juices are making headlines. Scrape the outer peel of the goya.

Blend together de-seeded goya slices with other vegetables like celery stalks and cucumber slices. 

To sweeten it a bit, add some fruit like apple slices along with a dash of lime juice. A little bit of ginger elevates the taste of the juice with just the right amount of spice while also upping the nutrition levels.

 This is an amazing juice that you can drink everyday to detox your liver, improve the health of your skin, hair and nails, lower your blood sugar levels and increase your immunity.  

I have come across recipes that include blending goya with fruit like kiwi and pears as well, so feel free to mix and match. Experiment till you find the one that appeals to you best!

Goya For The Win!

Goya is a super heathy food and should be consumed regularly not only for blood sugar control but also helps in weight loss and provides essential nutrients and vitamins. Hence, it is a superfood!

Okinawa Goya Vegetable: FAQs

Is the goya native to Okinawa?

Yes, the goya, also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd, is native to Okinawa, a prefecture in Japan. Goya is a popular vegetable in Okinawan cuisine and is widely cultivated and consumed in the region. It is known for its unique bitter taste and is used in various dishes such as stir-fries, soups, and pickles. Goya is also grown and consumed in other parts of Japan and many other countries in Asia.

Is goya the same as bitter gourd?

Yes, goya and bitter gourd are two common names for the same vegetable. Goya is the Japanese name for this vegetable, while bitter gourd is a more general term used in English-speaking countries. Both names refer to the same plant, scientifically known as Momordica charantia. It is a tropical vine that produces a bumpy, elongated fruit with a distinctive bitter taste. The vegetable is commonly used in various cuisines around the world for its unique flavor and potential health benefits.

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