Winter is the most awaited season for everyone. Have you started planning for a holiday for Christmas? But be aware, winter brings it shares of colds and cough. As a mother, constant battle with kid’s cold, cough is quite tiring. So as a parent what can I do? I am constantly looking for ways to ways to get them to eat healthy and for natural immunity boosters. One of my favorite winter superfoods is Amla (Indian Gooseberry). You will be amazed to know the benefits of Amla, for which it is considered as a super fruit. Start scrolling down.
Benefits of Amla (Indian gooseberry)
Why Amla tree is considered as Sacred?
Among ancient civilization, India is known for its rich natural resources of many medicinal plants, one of them is from the deciduous amla tree of family phyllanthacae. Indian gooseberry or Amla derived from Sanskrit word Amalaki.
In Ayurveda and Unani medicines, all parts of the amla tree are included in many of its herbal preparation. Amla is known as the fruit of immortality, it is believed to revitalize our system to increase longevity, boost immunity, provide healthy skin and healthy hair growth. These umpteen benefits of amla is the reason as to why the amla tree is considered sacred and worshiped in many parts of India.
Amla an important Rasayana
In Ayurveda Rasayana, is a Sanskrit word, with the literal meaning: Path (ayana) of essence (rasa). It is a term that in early ayurvedic medicine means the science of lengthening lifespan. Benefits of Amla holds high esteem in Ayurvedic medicine.
According to Ayurveda-
- amla contains 5 of the six tastes- sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent except salty, which aid in improving the appetite and enhances the metabolism of nutrients from food.
- amla balances the three doshas – Vata, pitta, and Kapha which according to Ayurveda are primarily responsible for good digestion and maintaining a healthy body.
Amla is the main ingredient in many classic Ayurvedic tonics like Chawanprash and Triphala which are immunity booster, enhances digestion, removes excessive salivation and internal body heat. It is considered a divine supplement in Ayurveda due to its potential health benefits. ( 1, 2)
Why is Amla a super fruit?
Research has demonstrated that this tiny berry packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidant substances, and fiber form a strong base for unique healing properties. Still not convinced? Let us check the array of amla benefits in detail. (3 , 4)
1 . Amla and its Impressive nutrient profile.
Amla is the treasure house of vitamin C. 100 grams of amla contains 600mg of vitamin C which is 20 times more than vitamin C in oranges.
This water-soluble Vitamin is highly unstable when exposed to heat, therefore citrus fruits should be eaten fresh to gain the benefits of vitamin C. However amla being a unique fruit with many active chemical compounds, which protect the vitamin C in it from being oxidized after heating or drying. The benefits of vitamin C in amla can be enjoyed even by preserving the fruit in solution or powder form. Vitamin C has many health benefits. (5)
- Strong antioxidant.
- Aids in easy absorption of iron, an important component of hemoglobin
- Immunity booster
- Maintains healthy skin teeth gum and bones.
Amla contains vitamin B5 pantothenic acid which produces energy by breaking down fat and carbohydrate. It also promotes healthy skin hair eyes and liver.
Manganese present in amla supports bone mineral density. It is a strong antioxidant and also helps in the metabolism of nutrients.
Amla is also a good source of copper which aids in maintaining healthy bones, blood vessel nerves and immune function and contribute to iron absorption.
Amla also contains a good amount of vitamin A, E, and potassium.
What makes amla superior to citrus fruits?
Vitamin C content of a few common fruits
|Common Fruits||Vitamin C (mg) per 100 grams|
|Amla (Indian Gooseberry)||600|
|Grapes (pale green)||1|
Reference – Nutritive value of Indian foods, ICMR,2016
2. Amla and its antioxidant properties
Lifestyle habits, stress and environmental factors like pollution are known to promote the excessive free radical formation and oxidative stress. Prolong oxidative stress leads to an increased risk of many life-threatening diseases. Regular intake of amla reduces the risk of negative health outcome Antioxidant properties of Amla is attributed to high content of vitamin C, bioactive phytochemicals like polyphenols, flavonol, ellagic acid, gallic acid, quercetin flavonoids, high contents of tannins and many more which are highly present in amla. (6)
3.Amla and Fiber content
Amla is a great source of water-soluble and insoluble fiber. One cup of Amla (150 grams) provides 26% of the daily recommended dietary fiber. Soluble fibers can help improve digestion and lower blood sugar levels while insoluble fiber relieves constipation.Both soluble and insoluble fiber in amla are important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent many diseases. (7)
Nutrient profile of Amla (per 100 grams)
|Ascorbic Acid (mg)||600|
Source : Nutritive values of Indian Foods,National Institute of Nutrition,ICMR,Hyderabad.
Chemical constituent of Amla
|Amino Acids||Glutamic acid,Proline ,Aspartic Acid,Alanine, Cystine, Lysine|
|Hydrolysable Tannins|| |
Emblicanin A and B, Punigluconin, Pedunculagin,
(Ellagitannin), Chebulagic acid (Benzopyran tannin), Corilagin
Geraniin (Dehydroellagitannin), Ellagotannin
|Alkaloids||Phyllantine, Phyllembein, Phyllantidine|
|Fatty Acids|| |
linoleic acid, linolenic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid,
palmitic acid and myristic acid
|Phenolic Compounds||Gallic acid, Methyl gallate, Ellagic acid,Trigallayl glucose|
|Vitamins||Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)|
|Organic Acids||Citric acid|
4) Amla benefits in treating Cancer
Folate and polyphenolic compounds, vitamin C and vitamin E present in Amla are found to reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress which leads to the development of Cancer.Recent studies demonstrated that amla extract impaired tumor progression at an early stage.
Packed with antioxidant properties, amla naturally fights free radicals that are usually responsible for cancer formation.
Research done by the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Nagasaki University showed that the fruit’s extract had the potential to prevent the dreaded disease by helping the body fight the harmful effects of chemicals that are carcinogenic and inhibit the further growth of affected cells.
According to the study, it showed maximum action on the cells of the stomach, skin, and uterus. Its extract is also known to reduce the harmful effects of radiation and chemotherapy without reducing the beneficial effects of anti-cancer treatments. ( 8, 9,10,11,12)
5) Amla benefits in Diabetes
High blood sugar level is link to type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, dementia, and much other illness. Test-tube studies revealed that amla extract is an alpha glycoside inhibitor means it binds special enzyme in your small intestine preventing them from moving sugar from your gut into your bloodstream which controls the sudden spike in the blood sugar level.
The rich source of vitamin C helps in controlling diabetes You must be wondering how? how vitamin C is linked with Diabetes. The chemical reactions occurring in the body generate free radicals. These free radicals tend to cause damage to the cell by a process called oxidation. An antioxidant is a substance that can neutralize this oxidative process. Amla is a rich source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant, and this property is responsible for most of its health benefits.
Research suggests that oxidative stress is the underlying cause of diabetes and associated complications. So, it is assumed that substances rich in antioxidants can reverse the damaging effects of oxidation and thus, help you deal with diabetes. ( 13,14,15,16,17)
6) Amla benefits for heart health
Phytonutrients present in amla help reduce Blood Pressure and improves blood vessel function which may lower your risk of heart diseases. Potassium present in amla is also responsible for the reduced risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Amla contains many nutrients that promote heart health, including antioxidants and potassium. Studies showed that purified extracts from Amla act in a very precise way to break the cycle of oxidation, inflammation and Plaque formation that underlies atherosclerosis and its disastrous consequences. Amla also helps in reducing total cholesterol and LDL(bad cholesterol) in our body. (18,19,20,21,22)
7) Amla Benefits for Brain health
Berries with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are potent food in terms of protecting the brain. Regular intake of amla improves cognitive function, increases concentration and memory. It protects the nerve cells from free radical damage and provides proper blood supply to the brain. Polyphenols and fiber present in amla lower the risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
One of the main reasons behind degenerative brain diseases is iron overload in the cells. High levels of iron, in turn, creates more free radicals, which damages the cell. The citric acid present in amla blocks the accumulation of iron in the cells and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and brain stroke if consumed regularly.(23,24,25,26)
8) Amla benefits as anti -ageing
Amla is considered as the first and the foremost food for anti-aging. With high antioxidant properties of polyphenols present in amla prevents the body from free radical, reduces dead cell damage, slows the aging process, important for collagen production, further keeping your skin healthy, free of wrinkles and also provides healthy hair and supports the immune system. Several nutrients in amla prevent infections of the eye, early onset of cataract and other eye-related problems. (27)
9) Amla benefits in Digestion
Amla strengthens the digestive system and activates the digestive enzymes which will be able to absorb more nutrients from the food.It provides healthy bowel movement through which the ability to digest the food increases. It acts as a laxative, reduces the gastric problem and provides relief from ulcers.
Amla triggers the taste receptors which ultimately makes the digestive enzymes active. It is a fiber-rich fruit that strengthens the digestive system leading to improving the ability of the body to absorb nutrients from the food. Amla aids in keeping the gastrointestinal tract clean. It has cooling and laxative properties which are beneficial in preventing constipation.
10) Amla benefits for beautiful skin and hair
Since ancient times amla as a beauty treasure has been used for healthy skin and hair care. Presence of high vitamin C and antioxidants in berry enhances the beauty of your skin and hair.
1 Acts as a skin brightening mask
2 Treats pigmentation.
3 Tones and tightens the skin
4 Cleanses the skin and keeps it hydrated.
Consume amla regularly and add it to your face mask for natural glow.
Amla as juice or powder is used in many hair tonics as it
1. Improves hair growth
2. Strengthen hair and reduces hair loss by preventing free radical damage to hair follicles.
3. Prevents drying of the scalp and thereby reduces dandruff
4. Prevents premature greying
5. Acts as a good conditioner.
Amla powder can be mixed with henna or shikakai and applied to hair. Amazed to know the beauty benefits of this small berry. So, why go for chemical-based products, when our desi natural amla is available to fix the problem.(28,29)
11) Amla enhances calcium absorption
Strong bones, teeth, and hair rely on calcium absorption and these super berries boost your body’s ability to intake calcium. Vitamin C present in Amla plays essential role in promoting the production of bone-forming cells and connective tissues. As it is also a powerful antioxidant, it protects the bone cell from damage. (30)
12) Amla Reduces Menstrual cramps
Amla helps in diminishing menstrual cramps which is very common in women nowadays.Women with heavy menstrual bleeding can use amla juice which regulates menstrual flow and reduces the cramps. Amla contains iron and also aids in iron absorption by our body, this in turn prevents anaemia due to heavy bleeding during menstruation in women.
13) Amla benefits for liver
The liver performs various functions in our body from producing bile for digestion to eliminate toxins from the body. Unfortunately, with modern-day lifestyle (increased junk food consumption, heavy drinking, incessant smoking, increased stress levels, and self-medication) liver diseases are emerging rapidly.
Amla keeps the liver functioning at optimal levels. It activates the sluggish liver to eliminate toxins from it. Antioxidants in Amla protects the liver cells from damage. It also helps in regenerating new cells of the liver.(31)
14) Amla benefits for kidneys
Amla increases the frequency and volume of urination. It has a high water content which helps in eliminating toxins from the body. It is a potent diuretic and protects kidney health.
15) Amla benefits for the eye health
Amla also contains Vitamin A (100 grams of amla contains 290 IU Vitamin A) which is good for eye health. Gooseberry is also rich in carotene, which is known to reduce the chances of getting cataracts while improving eyesight.
16) Amla for weight loss
Amla juice is a great beverage to start your day. It helps in keeping your digestive system on track throughout the day and accelerates the metabolism. Good metabolism will burn more calories effectively. Amla also helps in protein synthesis which is required for muscle development and cellular growth.(32)
17) Amla in pregnancy
Nausea and morning sickness is the most common symptoms in first trimester for most women. Amla reduces these symptoms in pregnancy. Chewing dried amla reduces nausea. Constipation and hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy. Amla helps in maintaining easy bowels due to its finer content. It also aids in the absorption of iron and other nutrients. It boosts overall digestion.
18) Amla in ulcers
Gargle twice a day with 2-3 teaspoons of amla juice mixed with normal water. This will relieve from the pain of awful mouth ulcers.
How to incorporate amla in our diet to get maximum health benefits?
a) Amla as fresh fruit –
Slices of one or two amlas can be eaten with a little salt or chat masala on it to make it more palatable. Amla can be grated or garnished into bowl of fruits or vegetables as a salad to boost your immunity. As fresh amla are seasonal, it can be preserved throughout the year in different ways as traditional sweet murabba, pickled amla or chutneys, sun-dried amla candies which can be given to children, dried amla supari which are often taken after meals for digestion, this preserved food should be avoided by diabetic and hypertension patient because of the high sugar and salt content
b )Amla juice –
Make a daily ritual of drinking this early in the morning. It is a good detox drink. Juice can be easily made in the home and mixed with water.
c) Amla powder –
Amla can be sun-dried and made into a powder that can be used throughout the year. Add a teaspoon of amla powder for a glass of water and drink early in the morning, it can be added to your smoothies, dal, soups, curries, shakes, juices or just sprinkle to your bowl of salad. One of the important feature of amla is that the vitamin C content will be intact within the fruit even if it is dried, unlike the citric fruits like oranges and sweet lime whose vitamin C levels reduces after getting dried.
I Can’t tolerate the sour taste of Amla…..
People who cannot tolerate sour taste and people with dental issues generally avoid Amla. Amla pickle or murabba have either high content salt or sugar which is not good for heart patients and diabetic people. Why ignore all other benefits of amla because of its sour taste. Try this recipe and enjoy the amla benefits.
A quick recipe of Amla for everyone-
- Take a deep bottom vessel and pour 2 glasses of water and bring it to boil.
- Now add 7-8 thoroughly amlas (whole) in the boiling water.Do not add cut amlas as nutrients will be lost in the water.
- Add a pinch of rock salt and close the pan with the lid.
- Switch off the heat. Overcooking will remove all the nutrients.
- After 10 minutes take the amlas out and let it cool.
- The lines on Amla can now be seen, cut the amlas at those lines.
- Take a pan, add 1/2 tablespoon oil, add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, add pinch of turmeric and chili powder. Now add amlas and close the lid for 1 min.
- Switch off the heat. Transfer the amlas in bowl or glass jar after it gets cool down. You can store this for a week in the refrigerator.
- Have one slice of amla every day to reap all the benefits of it.
How much of Amla to take daily?
To reap benefits of amla take one or two raw Amla fruit daily or 10 to 20 ml Amla juice diluted with water .you can also use 4-9 grams (1-2tsp)of Amla powder every day. Anything excess can lead to a harmful effect on your body.
What is the best time to have Amla?
Amla is beneficial when taken early in the morning on an empty stomach in raw form. Amla is acidic so it is better to avoid Amla in the nights as it may cause acidity. Like any other acidic food, we should not take milk with amla as it may curdle the milk and cause bloating.
Who can take Amla?
Amla is a very healthy booster of everyone. Kids (above 2 years ) and elders can equally consume amla in moderation for its benefits. If you are diabetic do consult a doctor before you switch to amla as consuming both medicine and amla in diabetes could significantly drop blood sugar level. Amla has good concentrations of Potassium patients with kidney problems must take advise from doctors before consuming it.
Can we eat Amla during cold?
Amla is a natural coolant and can bring down the body temperature. So it can aggravate the cold. It can worsen the symptoms of a cold. So it is better to avoid them in cold.
Amla or Supplements-what is best for vitamin C ?
It is always to get all the vitamins through our diet. Vitamin C is abundantly found in many vegetables and fruits. Amla is one quick fix to get your vitamin C dosage for the day. In season amla costs around 90/- per kilogram compared to very expensive fancy supplements. You can store it in powder or pickle form for the rest of the year. Until and Unless your doctor prescribed you do not go for fancy supplements and shots.
Are there any side effects of Amla?
Moderation is the key to any good food.Excess intake of amla results in acidity and constipation.
In today’s hectic and stressful lifestyle rejuvenation, cleansing and nurturing the body has become a necessary aspect towards a healthy life. Medicinal herbs like amla or Indian gooseberry in today’s medicine are nature’s boon to mankind which helps to tackle the poor intake of nutrients due to bad food habits and unhealthy lifestyle. Amla is a storehouse of good health, this divine fruit has been utilized for thousands of years for both therapeutic and preventive medicine for holistic well-being. It’s in the season, It’s natural, It’s affordable. Gear up this winter to reap all the benefits of amla and give a power punch immunity to your family. Eat raw, drink fresh juice or use it as powder, have it in any form every day will help you in a long way bringing many health benefits.(33)