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Open Access Research

Strategies to improve palatability and increase consumption intentions for Momordica charantia (bitter melon): A vegetable commonly used for diabetes management

Laura S Snee1, Vivek R Nerurkar2, Dian A Dooley1, Jimmy T Efird23, Anne C Shovic1 and Pratibha V Nerurkar4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences (HNFAS), College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

2 Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

3 Center for Health Disparities Research and Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, NC, USA

4 Laboratory of Metabolic Disorders and Alternative Medicine, Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering (MBBE), CTAHR, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:78  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-78

Published: 28 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Although beneficial to health, dietary phytonutrients are bitter, acid and/or astringent in taste and therefore reduce consumer choice and acceptance during food selection. Momordica charantia, commonly known as bitter melon has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and its complications. The aim of this study was to develop bitter melon-containing recipes and test their palatability and acceptability in healthy individuals for future clinical studies.

Methods

A cross-sectional sensory evaluation of bitter melon-containing ethnic recipes was conducted among 50 healthy individuals. The primary endpoints assessed in this analysis were current consumption information and future intentions to consume bitter melon, before and after provision of attribute- and health-specific information. A convenience sample of 50, self-reported non-diabetic adults were recruited from the University of Hawaii. Sensory evaluations were compared using two-way ANOVA, while differences in stage of change (SOC) before and after receiving health information were analyzed by Chi-square (χ2) analyses.

Results

Our studies indicate that tomato-based recipes were acceptable to most of the participants and readily acceptable, as compared with recipes containing spices such as curry powder. Health information did not have a significant effect on willingness to consume bitter melon, but positively affected the classification of SOC.

Conclusions

This study suggests that incorporating bitter foods in commonly consumed food dishes can mask bitter taste of bitter melon. Furthermore, providing positive health information can elicit a change in the intent to consume bitter melon-containing dishes despite mixed palatability results.