The A-Z Of Indian Superfoods: Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry has a wide variety of uses, from boosting immunity to maintaining a healthy heart to preventing hair fall. The powerful antioxidants and other nutrients present in amla make it truly deserving of its superfood status. Find out why you should add this berry to your regular diet.
Indian gooseberry, popularly known as amla, has been used in traditional Indian medicine and cooking for centuries for its manifold benefits. Also named Phyllanthus emblica or Emblica officinalis, it is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C— higher levels than orange, tangerine, or lemon. Amla is also full of polyphenols such as tannins and flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant properties, and is also enriched with essential amino acids, building blocks of protein.
Benefits Of Indian Gooseberry (Amla):
- Boosts immunity: Vitamin C plays an important role in boosting your immunity. 100 g of amla contains 200-900 mg of Vitamin C, which is far greater than the recommended daily intake (75-90 mg). The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of amla are beneficial for maintaining your immune health. Amla has been widely used in Indian medicine for treatment of common cold and fever.
- Controls diabetes: In a clinical trial published in International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, taking about 3 mg of amla powder daily for 21 days showed a significant decrease in the fasting and post-eating blood sugar levels of the 32 participants. An article published in Food Research International also examined the role of amla as a dietary component useful in regulating type 2-diabetes.
- Inhibits cancer cell growth: The antioxidants present in Indian gooseberry help in neutralising harmful free radicals and protect cells from damage. According to a review published in International Journal of Chemistry Studies, amla may inhibit the growth and spread of certain cancers such as breast, uterus, liver, pancreas, and stomach. It has more than 18 compounds that can exert anti-proliferative activity on gastric and uterine cancer cells.
- Aids digestion: Indian gooseberry is useful in a range of digestive issues. A study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine showed significant reduction in frequencies of heartburn and regurgitation, which are symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in 68 participants after 4 weeks of taking two 500 mg amla tablets per day. Amla is also high in fibre content, which helps with constipation. The high Vitamin C content can help with the absorption of plant-based iron in your diet.
- Improves eye health: A study published in Aging showed that in test tube studies, amla extract helped with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The carotene present in Indian gooseberry can also be a factor in maintaining eye health.
- Improves heart health: Indian gooseberry promotes heart health through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A review published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry suggests that amla decreases bad cholesterol and helps with preventing hardening of arteries. A Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Research review shows this superfood to have anticoagulant, antihypertensive and vasodilatory effects.
- Benefits skin and hair: The antioxidant quality of amla is also helpful for healthier skin and hair. Multiple studies such as the ones published in Pharmaceutical Biology, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, and Journal of Cosmetic Science show that Indian gooseberry can protect from breakdown of collagen (a protein that serves as a building block for your skin) and against damage induced by UV rays, giving it anti-aging powers. Amla infused coconut oil has also been used to treat hair loss and greying in traditional medicine. Studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggest that amla may promote hair growth.
Ways To Incorporate Amla Into Your Diet
1. As heat compromises the nutritional quality of Indian gooseberry, it is best consumed in raw form. Dr Lakshmi K, PhD in Food Science and Nutrition, and Head Holistic Nutritionist, URLife, says, “One shot of amla juice per day is recommended first thing in the morning for a good dose of Vitamin C. Blend an amla and mix it into some water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper for taste.”
2. Add amla powder to your morning green smoothie for an added nutrition boost.
3. Incorporate Indian gooseberry to your salad, both savoury and sweet.
4.Have dried amla wedges as an after-meal digestive aid.
Things To Keep In Mind
Amla can interfere with blood clotting due to its anticoagulation property, so caution should be exercised if you are already on blood thinners, have bleeding disorders, or are about to undergo surgical procedures, as it may cause bleeding. The diabetes-controlling benefit of Indian gooseberries may be detrimental to people with low blood sugar. Consumption of very high levels of Vitamin C can cause diarrhoea in some cases.