What is Indian Gooseberry (Amla)?
Indian gooseberry or amla (Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica) is an extremely sour, nutritious fruit of a tree which grows in India, the Middle East, and a few other Southeast Asian countries. It is known as Amla in India and Amalaki in Sanskrit. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, it is often used as in Ayurvedic medicines to boost skin and hair health, and also overall immunity of the body. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. This fruit ripens in the autumn in wet forests and hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent and the tree is considered sacred in India.
The fruit is light green in color and can be quite tart and fibrous to eat. In India, it is eaten with salt and chilly powder or made into a pickle or sugared candy. Amla is available in various other forms, such as a powder, juice, oil, tablets, and spice. Amla tea and dried amla are also consumed by many for its powerful nutritional benefits.
Indian Gooseberry Nutrition
The Indian gooseberry or amla is abundant in vitamin C and vitamin A. It also contains high levels of folic acid and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, and magnesium. Indian gooseberries are low in calories, with 100 grams of the fruit containing only 44 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Fresh Indian gooseberries contain more than 80% water, protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber. Their beneficial properties are mainly due to the potency of the antioxidants.
Indian gooseberries are a natural immune booster as they contain a powerful cocktail of vitamins C and A, polyphenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol. According to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, amla has potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Amla juice is often used in Ayurveda to increase white blood cells, which are the main line of defense for the immune system since these cells attack and eliminate foreign toxins and substances into the bloodstream throughout the body.
Gooseberry contains chromium, which has a therapeutic value for diabetic patients. It stimulates the isolated group of cells that secrete insulin. This reduces blood sugar in diabetic patients and keeps their body balanced and healthy. When blood sugar is reduced, glucose is used by the cells as functional energy. Thus, the metabolism is stronger and you have more energy, without the plunges and spikes in blood sugar that are dangerous for diabetics. Chromium also enhances the effect of beta-blockers, which are used for heart health, by reducing the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. Furthermore, a 2011 research on the effect of the amla fruit on blood glucose and lipid profile of type 2 diabetics stated that it has anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-lowering properties
Prevents Heart Diseases
Amla powder strengthens the heart muscles, so the blood circulation is done throughout the body. By reducing excess cholesterol buildup, chromium in amla powder can reduce the chances of atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in the vessels and arteries. This can reduce the chances of stroke and heart attack. The iron content in it promotes the creation of new red blood cells. Thereby, increasing circulation and the oxygenation of organs and cells to maximize growth and regeneration of tissue
Acts as a Diuretic
Besides being a fruit that is very high in water content, amla is also slightly diuretic in nature. This means that it increases the frequency and volume of urination. Urination helps our body eliminate unwanted toxins and excess levels of water, salt, and uric acid. Furthermore, it can help you lose weight since up to 4% of urine is composed of fat. Therefore, a diuretic substance is always necessary for keeping your kidneys healthy and for preventing urinary and uterine infections.
Amla powder is used in many hair tonics as it enriches hair growth and hair pigmentation. It strengthens the roots, maintains color, and improves luster. Applying Amla Hair oil will improve hair growth and color. Amla oil is very popular in India because it has been shown to reduce the chances of hair loss and baldness. This quality is due to the carotene content of amla, as well as its iron and antioxidant content that prevents free radical damage to hair follicles and hormones.
Drinking vitamin A-rich gooseberry juice with honey is good for improving eyesight. It helps improve near-sightedness and cataracts while reducing intra-ocular tension. This is mainly due to its impressive carotene content, which has long been known for its powerful effect on vision-related conditions, including those that stem from the free radical damage.  Vitamin A and carotenes improve your vision, while also lowering the risk of macular degeneration and night blindness.
Boosts Liver Health
Drinking amla juice, as per Ayurveda, boosts vitality and vigor, and the underlying reason for it is probably linked to its ability to re-energize the liver. Liver health is not paid as much attention to, even though it affects a large part of the population. A 2013 study on the Hepatoprotective properties of the Indian gooseberry published in the Food & Function journal says the fruit is effective in preventing the toxic effects of excessive medication and toxic metals. The presence of phytochemicals such as quercetin, gallic acid, corilagin, and ellagic acid in amla helps in free radical scavenging and in turn, detoxifying the body.
Amla extract has shown to have cytotoxic activity against cervical and ovarian cancer cells. Researchers from The Departments of Oncology and Experimental Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada said that Phyllanthus emblica extractshave strong tumor repressive properties against a number of cancer types. Research published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention shows that the tiny fruit is packed with potent polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins, which makes it a powerful tool against a variety of conditions, including cancer and diabetes.
Aids in Calcium Absorption
One of the less discussed benefits of the Indian gooseberry is how it helps the body absorb calcium in a positive way. Calcium is an essential component of our bones, teeth, and nails, and also ensures that we have beautiful lustrous hair. This is why drinking diluted amla juice on an empty stomach is recommended.
Improves Metabolic Activity
Eating foods that are high in protein like amla is one of the most important ways to stay healthy since proteins are an essential part of our body’s metabolic activities. Our enzymes can break down plant proteins into amino acids and reassemble them into usable proteins for our body. Protein is necessary for cellular growth, muscle development, organ health, and a wide range of metabolic activities that we need to remain healthy.
Treats Menstrual Cramps
The minerals and vitamins in the Indian gooseberry combine to make it very useful in the treatment of menstrual cramps. Since it takes a while for the necessary elements to accrue in the body, it is better to consume amla on a regular basis so that its nutrients are always in the system and menstrual cramps can be prevented.
Relieves Diarrhea & Dysentery
Due to its strong cooling and laxative properties, amla powder is a useful component in remedies for diarrhea and dysentery, according to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. It provides relief from the various gastric syndromes and hyperchlorhydria (burning sensation in the abdomen). As a laxative, it helps flush out toxins or harmful substances that cause discomfort or illness, so the healing process can begin. It then cools the burning sensation and reduces the discomfort often felt during diarrhea.
Consuming gooseberry powder with butter and honey before a meal improves appetite. Amla powder also helps balance nitrogen levels, thereby increasing weight in a healthy way. In other benefits, amla is also used as a remedy for fever, liver disorder, indigestion, anaemia, urinary problems, respiratory problems, and cerebral, gastric, and cardiovascular illnesses. Gooseberry lowers cholesterol levels, increases red blood cell production, and strengthens teeth and nails.
How To Eat Amla Fruit?
You can consume Indian Gooseberry (Amla) as a fresh fruit, juice, or in a dried powder form to see a big improvement in your health.
- Fresh amla:These are available in season in Indian stores. You can eat amla slices raw with salt and spices, like in India or you can mix a teaspoon of honey. Honey balances the tart taste of amla.
- Dried amla:Dried amla fruit can be chewed on. But be aware that they may have a lot of sugar added to it. In India, the candied pickle is called amla murabba.
- Amla powder:Organic versions are available in the market and can be mixed with water, honey, or yogurt to be made into a hair or face mask.
- Amla oil:This oil helps to strengthen the hair, prevents premature greying and stops hair fall.
- Amla juice:Taking amla juice diluted with water early in the morning on an empty stomach helps keep the digestive system healthy and aids in managing blood sugar levels.
(Image: Representation only)