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; the tree is considered sacred in India.
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 percent water, in addition to protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber. Their beneficial properties are mainly due to the potency of the antioxidants.
Indian Gooseberry (Amla) Benefits
Let’s take a look at the major benefits of Indian gooseberry (amla) in detail:
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.Amla juice, in Ayurveda, is often used to increase the white blood cells in the body, which are the main line of defense for the immune system. White blood cells attack and eliminate foreign toxins and substances into the bloodstream throughout the body.According to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, amla has potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Gooseberry contains chromium, which has a therapeutic value for diabetics. It stimulates the isolated group of cells that secrete insulin, thus reducing blood sugar in diabetic patients. 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. A 2011 research study 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.
Aids in Digestion
Amla is very high in fiber, like most fruits. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps move food through the bowels and keeps bowel movements regular. This reduces the chances of constipation. Soluble fiber (found in many fruits) can also bulk up loose stools and reduce diarrhea. Amla also stimulates the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, so food is digested efficiently, nutrients are absorbed in an optimal way, and you feel lighter and healthier.A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Food Technology found that the amla and amla powder retained water. This property helps reduce constipation and can help protect you from various disorders, and even has implications for colorectal cancer.
Prevents Heart Diseases
Berries –like blueberries and gooseberries–have been proven to improve heart health. Amla powder strengthens the heart muscles, so the blood circulation is more effective 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 may reduce the chances of stroke and heart attack. The iron content in amla also promotes the creation of new red blood cells, thereby increasing circulation and the oxygenation of organs and cells to maximize growth and regeneration of tissues.
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. Therefore, a diuretic substance is often beneficial 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.Applying amla oil to the roots of your hair improves 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.It strengthens the roots, maintains color, and improves luster.
Amla prevents health-related hyperlipidemia by reducing the number of free radicals in the body through its antioxidant qualities.Vitamin C and antioxidants help scavenge free radicals; free radicals are associated with signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots. Amla powder is used as a face mask to remove age spots.
Drinking gooseberry juice – which is rich in vitamin A – with a bit of honey, is good for improving eyesight. It helps improve nearsightedness 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 carotene improves 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 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 journal 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 been shown to have cytotoxic activity against cervical and ovarian cancer cells. Researchers from Montreal, Canada published a study that found Phyllanthus emblica extracts have strong tumor repressive properties against a number of cancer types.Other research in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention shows that the tiny fruit is packed with potent polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins, making 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 plays a part in ensuring we have beautiful, lustrous hair. One of the ways to obtain its benefits is by drinking diluted amla juice on an empty stomach.
Improves Metabolic Activity
Eating foods that are high in protein, like amla, is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. Protein is necessary for cellular growth, muscle development, organ health, and a wide range of metabolic activities that we need to remain healthy. Our enzymes can break down plant proteins into amino acids and reassemble them into usable proteins for our body.
Treats Menstrual Cramps
It is thought that the minerals and vitamins in the Indian gooseberry combine to make it very useful in the treatment of menstrual cramps.Consume amla on a regular basis so that its nutrients are always in the system and menstrual cramps can be prevented or reduced.