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Amla (Indian gooseberries): Benefits, Uses and Nutritional Value

Amla, with the scientific name Phyllanthus emblica L, is a tree that comes from Asia. Its fruits, also known as Indian gooseberries are characterized by their particular sour taste and concentration of nutrients. In fact, they are quite popular in Ayurveda medicine, as they are considered invigorating and rejuvenating.

They are often prepared in juice or pickle form, but are also available as a powdered supplement for medicinal uses. It is believed that its regular consumption can help prevent various diseases. Do you want to know more about it? We tell you what science says.

Nutritional Properties of Amla

According to an article published in Pharmacological Research, amla is characterized by its high concentration of polyphenols (such as gallic acid and ellagic acid), tannins, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential oils and flavonoids (rutin and quercetin).

To be more precise, a half-cup serving of these berries contains the following:

  • Calories: 33.
  • Protein: less than 1 gram.
  • Fat: less than 1 gram.
  • Carbohydrates: 8 grams.
  • Fiber: 3 grams.
  • Sugar: 0 grams.

Similarly, it stands out for its significant contribution of vitamins A, C and E, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Uses and Benefits of Amla

Due to its important concentration of nutrients, amla berries are used as an anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, lipid-lowering, antioxidant, revitalizing, digestive and antimicrobial supplement. Regarding this, several studies have made interesting findings. Let’s see.

1. Immune system

Due to its concentration of vitamin C, amla juice and extracts are considered allies to strengthen the functions of the immune system. A review published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology states that it provides between 600 and 700 milligrams of vitamin C for each fruit. Thus, it is one of the main sources of this micronutrient.

Now, as a publication in the journal Nutrients explains, vitamin C not only strengthens the function of immune cells, but also protects against cell damage caused by free radicals. In this way, it provides a protective effect against infections and other diseases.

2. Cardiovascular health

The antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in amla can contribute to good heart health. In research shared in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, amla extract was helpful in improving lipid profile.

In particular, 98 people consumed 500 milligrams of amla extract 2 times a day for 12 weeks. In the end, a reduction in bad cholesterol (LDL), total cholesterol and triglycerides was observed. All of this translates into a lower risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Meanwhile, a study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine also suggests that amla extract helps lower high blood pressure, another relevant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

3. Kidney health

In Ayurvedic medicine, amla juice is a well-known remedy for caring for the health of the kidneys. Specifically, it is said to stimulate kidney functions and prevent the development of chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress.

In this regard, an animal study shared in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that the administration of amla extract helped decrease kidney damage. In turn, it favored the functions of this system. More research is required to determine if these same effects occur in humans.

4. Digestive health

Amla berries and their derivatives are considered a supplement to promote digestive health. This is largely due to its fiber content, a nutrient that supports bowel movements and reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

On the other hand, as detailed in an essay published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, its intake favors the control of heartburn and regurgitation, which contributes to the relief of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

5. Diabetes

Due to their soluble fiber content, amla berries contribute to the control of sugar absorption in the intestine. Consequently, its intake contributes to the reduction of high peaks in blood sugar. Thus, it is a food supplement for people at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Other possible benefits of amla

It is important to mention that studies of the effects of amla in humans are still limited. While berries are recognized as nutritious, there are still doubts as to their efficacy in treating disease. Therefore, it is essential to use it in moderation, without replacing medical treatments.

Other possible applications of this food are the following:

  • Liver Health: A study shared in Food and Function found that amla extract helped improve fatty liver disease in rats fed a high-fat diet. In addition, its intake was associated with a decrease in abdominal fat and body weight.
  • Hair loss: this product is used to make hair strengthening products. A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology determined that amla can block a specific enzyme involved in excessive hair loss.
  • Brain Health: Amla’s concentration of antioxidants and phytonutrients helps combat the negative effects of free radicals on brain health. Its intake is associated with strengthening memory and preventing conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

Precautions in the consumption of Indian gooseberries

Intake of these berries is safe for most people. However, if they are used in supplement form, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Likewise, if you have a pre-existing disease or are taking medications, it is best to consult your doctor before ingesting these products.

How to prepare amla juice?

Due to the boom that it has had as a food supplement, amla juice is available in the market. However, the best option is to prepare it at home without added sugars, preservatives or artificial flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 amla berries.
  • ginger (optional).
  • 2 cups of water (500 milliliters).

Preparation:

  • First, cut the berries and put them in the blender.
  • Add the water and beat for a few minutes.
  • If you prefer, add a little ginger to enhance the flavor.
  • When the drink is homogeneous, pass it through a strainer and drink it.

Indian gooseberries: an ideal food to promote well-being

Beyond its applications in Ayurvedic medicine, amla berries are an ideal food to improve the quality of the diet. Its variety of nutrients increases the energy level and reduces the risk of diseases. Of course, it should be consumed in moderation, always in the context of a healthy and varied diet.

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