Amla Berry, the Wonder Fruit! (aka: Indian Gooseberry)
This ancient superberry, also known as Indian gooseberry, is a traditional Ayurvedic medicinal herb and grows on a tree found wild and cultivated in all parts of India. It's a yellow-green fruit about the size of a lemon and has six vertical stripes around its rounded shape. It is said to possess five of the six tastes (sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, sweet), although sour is its main taste. Increasingly popular with consumers, and with a growing block of research demonstrating its health benefits, amla is all the rage in natural food circles today.
Gooseberries are low in calories and fat, yet packed with nutrients.
Just 1 cup (150 grams) of gooseberries contains:
Protein: 1 gram
Fat: less than 1 gram
Carbs: 15 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Vitamin C: 46% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B5: 9% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
Copper: 12% of the DV
Manganese: 9% of the DV
Potassium: 6% of the DV
Extremely High in Vitamin C
The health benefits of amla berry can mostly be attributed to its high whole food vitamin C content, and its impressive antioxidant abilities.
Vitamin C's antioxidant abilities help protect our cells from free radical damage, and supports the production of white blood cells in the body. Due to its astringent attributes, in addition to its vitamin content, amla helps supports the body’s immune response. Vitamin C in amla also supports the liver, nourishes the brain and promotes a healthy heart. It strengthens the lungs, enhances fertility, helps the urinary system, improves skin quality and promotes healthier hair.
Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that help fight the effects of free radicals. These are reactive molecules that cause cellular damage and lead to a process known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with many diseases and premature aging.
Along with the fruit's high vitamin C content, it also contains tannins, alkaloids and phenolic compounds, all with the ability to quench a wide range of reactive oxygen species. The health benefits stemming from amla's high concentration of tannins include supporting healthy tissue integrity and normal cellular growth.
Gooseberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, small amounts of vitamin E, and phytonutrients. Plants produce phytonutrients to keep healthy and protect against sun damage and insects.
Some of the phytonutrients in gooseberries include:
Flavonols. These are linked to heart health and support healthy circulation and support the body's innate resistance to pathogens. The main types in gooseberries are quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin.
Anthocyanins. These compounds are the colored pigments in fruit, and they’re associated with eye and urinary tract health, memory support, and healthy aging.
Aromatic acids. In gooseberries, these include caffeic, chlorogenic, coumaric, hydroxybenzoic, and ellagic acid.
Organic acids. They’re responsible for the tart taste of fruit. Amla berries contain citric acids, which have their own set of benefits.
The List Goes On
Amla has been cited for improving a variety of other conditions. In addition to its antioxidant capabilities, it is also good for supporting healthy, normal inflammatory levels in the body, heart health, supporting healthy gums and eyes (vision support with aging), and supports healthy blood sugar levels.
Using Amla Berry
When amla fruits are fully ripe, they take on a slightly reddish tinge. They're a wonderful, healthy fruit to include in your diet as a snack or flavorful addition to meals. If you can't find amla berries where you live, you can try amla berry powder. Consumption of the dried fruit itself is growing and also increasingly popular are extracts from the fruit in dietary supplements. It also has been used as an ingredient in medicinal teas, and is available in supplement form or as a liquid tincture or a paste.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods